(Temple Wildcats Athletics Facebook photo)
(Temple Wildcats Athletics Facebook photo)

TEMPLE – Friday night’s matchup was billed as a heavyweight prized fight between two of the top programs in District 17-5A with the undefeated Hutto Hippos traveling to Wildcat Stadium to face a 5-1 Temple Wildcats.

Both teams traded punches throughout the night but it was a lethal blow by Temple’s Marques Hatcher, a 71 yard touchdown jaunt with 3:15 left in the fourth that was the decisive blow in Temple’s 41-34 victory over Hutto.

Following a goal line stand by the Wildcat defense with less than 5 minutes to play and Temple leading 34-27. Hatcher shaked off several Hutto defenders at the line of scrimmage and raced 71 yards to send the homecoming crowd at Wildcat Stadium into a frenzy and giving Temple a 41-27 lead with 3:15 left to go in the game. For Hatcher, it was the third time he had found the endzone as he had first half scores of 3 and 49 yards.

Hatcher was the offensive star for Temple on Friday night as he picked up 188 yards on just 14 carries for a Wildcat offense that seemed to sputter in the second half against a Hutto defense that had come into the game only giving up 23 points on the entire season.

The victory gives the Wildcats (4-0 in 17-5A and 6-1 overall) an inside track to the District 17-5A Championship with a battle looking with 3-0 Elgin in the final game of the season still to come.

Hatcher’s big play was set up by a huge defensive stand with under five minutes to play as the Hippos aided by a pass interference penalty set the Wildcat defense backed up to its own goaline in a 34-27 game. Temple’s defense shut down the running lanes and suffocated the Hutto receivers forcing the Hippo’s to call timeout on fourth and goal at the seven. Hutto decided to go with trickery to find the endzone by running a reverse to speedy receiver Davion Davis and quarterback Tyler Herrick sneaking out as a receiver. However, with Temple’s secondary picking up Herrick, Davis’ only option was to tuck the ball and run. Temple’s Marquel Davis-Ponce saw Davis racing to the corner of the endzone and in a lightning quick decision turned his sights on the speedy Davis and blasted the Hutto runner out of bounds at the Temple 2-yard line turning the ball over on downs to the Wildcats with 4:21 left to play.

Following Hatchers 71 yard run, Hutto did respond once again by finding the enzone once again against a increasingly stubborn Temple defense with a Herrick to Davis 8-yard TD pass with 46 second remaining. However, with the Hippo’s needing possession back used an onside kick, Hutto once again tried some trickery by going to the short side of the field attempting to catch the Wildcats off guard but Temple’s Aaron Freeman had nothing to do with it and calmly secured the ball sealing the Wildcat homecoming victory.

The first half of play looked to be a typical Wildcat game as the Wildcats only needed six plays, capped by a Jeff Carr 6 yard run giving the Wildcats an early 6-0 lead with 9:37 left in the first. It would be the first touchdown Hutto had given up since Week 2 of the season.

Hutto responded with a scoring drive themselves as Jaylen Brown scored from four yards out to give Hutto a 7-6 lead with 5:04 left.

With Temple facing multiple long yardage situations on their next possession, quarterback Chad President repeatedly found open receivers and capped the drive off on a 15yd TD pass to Tyler Hannon to put Temple back on top 13-7. Hannon would finish the night with 5 receptions for 64 yards becoming a consistent target for President.

On Hutto’s next possession, sophomore Taquan Graham forced Hutto quarterback Herrick to hurry his pass and Clint Cole was able to take advantage and get the first of two inceptions on the night for the Wildcats.

Temple respond a little over minute later as Hatcher went 49 yards to put the Cats up 20-7 with 0:05 left in the first quarter.

After trading possesions, the Wildcats were set up at the Hutto 3-yard line following a Jeff Carr 40 yard run. Hatcher capped off the drive from three yards out putting the Cats up 27-7 with 4:38 left in the second.

Hutto responded with a nice drive themselves on a 51 yard TD pass from Herrick to Brandon Douglas bringing the Hippos within 27-14 with 2:33 left.

Temple methodically moved down the field and extended the lead back to 20 at 34-14 on a Chad President 1 yd quarterback sneak.

President finished the night 13-22 passing for 127 yards and picked up 95 yards on the ground. Carr had 74 yards on 12 carries for Temple.

Freeman had 2 receptions for 22 yards, Carr 1-22 and Keion Seastrunk 4-19.

Ashton Logan picked up an interception late in the third quarter picking off Herrick in the endzone ending a Hippo threat to score.

Temple will be able to secure a playoff berth next week as they will travel to Waco ISD Stadium too face long time rival Waco for the first time in many years before they have their bye week.