By Jonathan Hull
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Matthew Hawkins was hoping to earn a little self-redemption at the Oil Bowl. It’s fair to say he got it.
Hawkins was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player at the 77th annual Oil Bowl after leading a stellar defensive showing by West Texas in a 28-0 victory against East Texas at Memorial Stadium.
The West linebacker ended up with 11 tackles, including 3 1/2 for loss, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and half a sack. In a way, this performance was more fulfilling than the one he delivered in the Class 4A Division II state championship game for Aledo in December. Despite winning the state title, the experience was bittersweet for Hawkins, who felt he had one of his worst games of the season.
There was nothing bitter about Saturday.
“It was a great day for sure,” Hawkins said. “I just wanted to ball out for my last game and hopefully I did that. I feel like I definitely got redemption from the state game. I didn’t want to end on that note.”
Hawkins was consistently in the right place at the right time throughout the night. He led the West with five tackles in the first half and had an interception with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Hawkins burst into the East backfield and got a clean hit on quarterback Dravion Smith, jarring the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by fellow West linebacker Gunner Linhart of Austin Vandergrift at the East 29. Six plays later, Holliday’s Logan Allen scored the game’s final TD on a 1-yard plunge with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
“Some college needs to take that guy,” West coach Weldon Nelms said of Hawkins, who is still undecided on which college he’ll attend. “That kid can play. He’s instinctive, he’s fast, he’s a football player. And he’s a wonderful kid — disciplined and he studies the game.”
Hawkins was ultimately one of several defenders who had standout performances for the West. Keller Central’s Drew Bolin had a game-high 13 tackles, while Linhart finished with five tackles, including two for loss and a sack. Arlington’s Darron Harris — a Sam Houston State commit — had five tackles and a sack.
Also contributing in the shutout were Vernon’s David Garza (four tackles), Old High’s Neil Esteves (two tackles) and Iowa Park’s Dakota Schweiger (one tackle).
Using a 3-3 stack formation that seemed to cause some confusion for the East offense, the West was able to limit the East to just 106 total yards, including just 11 passing. Smith, who was the only quarterback on the East roster, was just 2-of-14 passing with an interception.
“A stack is a tough defense because there’s so many people in the box so that was a little bit different,” East coach Doug Stephens said. “But I think momentum is such a big deal in a game like this. The kids just got to know one another and then they’re not really sure what’s going on and who to trust.
While the East offense was struggling, the West was fairly consistent, racking up 325 total yards. Rider running back Carlos Fleeks was the Offensive MVP with 97 rushing yards and a TD on 10 carries and 17 receiving yards on one reception. Fleeks was a late addition to the West roster, being called in Tuesday to replace no-show Robert Lee of Lubbock Coronado.
He showed the West coaches made a wise decision when he broke a 52-yard run for a TD in the second quarter, giving the West a 14-0 lead with 1:41 left in the first half. The long TD run came shortly after he was stuffed at the goal line on fourth and 1.
“They gave me the ball, I saw the hole and I cut in, cut back and just went,” Fleeks said of his TD run. “I was kind of mad about that (goal-line stop).”
Fleeks’ Raider teammate Davon Allison led the West with 73 receiving yards on three receptions. Also making an impact in the passing game was Graham’s Dillon Gonzales, who finished with 57 receiving yards on three receptions, including a 45-yard TD catch from Burnet’s Derek Kiser in the first quarter that got the scoring started.
Boyd running back Fino Cardona had the West’s other score, scampering in from 21 yards out on his first carry of the night with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
The 28-point margin of victory is the most lopsided since Oklahoma defeated Texas 41-13 in 2005, and it’s the first shutout since Texas defeated Oklahoma 17-0 in 2006.
For Nelms, the reason behind the impressive victory was simple.
“These are a special bunch of kids that came together early in camp,” Nelms said. “They bonded so quickly and the chemistry was amazing. That was all the difference.”
77th annual Oil Bowl
West Texas 28, East Texas 0
West Texas 7 7 14 0 — 28
East Texas 0 0 0 0 — 0
WEST — Dillon Gonzales 45 yd pass from Derek Kiser (Chris Scott kick) 10:46
WEST — Carlos Fleeks 52 yd run (Chris Scott kick) 1:41
WEST — Fino Cardona 21 yd run (Chris Scott kick) 7:33
WEST — Logan Allen 1 yd run (Chris Scott kick) 1:23
First downs 18 11
Rushes-Yards 46-149 40-95
Passing 176 11
Comp-Att-Int 9-21-0 2-14-1
Punts 4-35 7-51.1
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 5-3
Penalties-Yards 5-55 4-35
RUSHING — (WT) Carlos Fleeks 10-97; Fino Cardona 3-38; Dallas Ray Herring 7-18; Dennis Adrole 4-16; Logaln Allen 4-14; Dillon Gonzales 3-5; Malik Sims, Amar 2-3; Garland McCoy 2-2; Derek Kiser 2-(-3); Caden Coots 6-(-4); David Garza 1-(-6); TEAM 1-(-31). (ET) Tavarius Luke 9-57; Nicholas Gabriel 9-46; Shadavian Reed 3-5; John Lewis 1-2; Derek Shelby 1-1; team 1- (-7); Dra Smith 16-(-9).
PASSING — (WT) Derek Kiser 5-10-0, 74, 1 TD; Caden Coots 3-7-0, 93, 1 TD; Garland McCoy 1-1-0, 9. (ET) Dra Smith 2-14-1, 11.
RECEIVING — (WT) Davon Allison 3-73; Dillon Gonzales 3-57, 1 TD; Malik Sims, Amar 1-20; Carlos Fleeks 1-17; Chris Scott 1-9. (ET) TaVarius Luke 2-11.