Kennedale picks apart Decatur in 55-7 blowout

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, August 31, 2018.
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A herculean task awaited the Decatur Eagles Friday night in Kennedale.

Squaring off with the No. 7 Wildcats — the 2017 4A Division I runner-up — the Eagles (0-1) appeared to hold their own for the first few minutes. Decatur forced Kennedale (1-0) into a fourth down on its first drive, but the Wildcats easily converted with a play action pass over the top. Two plays later, Kennedale was in the end zone.

It proved to be a sign of things to come.

The Wildcats piled up 595 yards of total offense, routing Decatur 55-7 in the regular season opener.

“Kennedale is really good,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “It was my fault for not having them more prepared. We have been telling them all week [Kennedale] is a great football team and they will be physical and try to shock you out of the box. We didn’t withstand it.”

Kennedale racked up 492 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Micah Conner ran for 284 yards and three scores, while DJ Kirven tallied 146 yards and three scores.

Decatur got its only touchdown of the night on a 77-yard run by A.J. Martinez. The junior put the Eagles on the board in the second quarter when he made a cutback, broke a tackle and eluded the Wildcats’ safety.

“I came through the hole and saw Ridge [Burden] one-on-one with the tiny linebacker,” Martinez said. “I hid behind Ridge, broke one way and the receiver did a good job of blocking the cornerback, and I was one-on-one with the safety.”

Martinez’ touchdown run was the lone bright spot for the Decatur offense, which committed six turnovers on the night.

Decatur’s Armando Benitez dives to tackle Kennedale wide receiver Jaden Smith during Friday’s 55-7 loss. Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

In his first start at quarterback, junior Roman Fuller went 4-for-22 for 75 yards and five interceptions. Backup Chase Oberle threw the sixth interception in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles’ usual high-flying, up-tempo attack was stymied by Kennedale’s stingy defense. Decatur managed just 190 yards of total offense.

Martinez said the Wildcats’ front seven posed problems for the Eagles from the outset.

“They are just really quick coming off the ball,” Martinez said. “It was hard to get a block on them. It missed up everything from there with the quarterback being rushed like that. When you don’t start off good, it’s going to be hard to recover.”

Decatur running back A.J. Martinez is tackled during Friday’s 55-7 loss to Kennedale. Messenger photo by Joe Duty.

After Martinez’ touchdown run made it 21-7 Kennedale, the Wildcats rattled off 34 unanswered points to put the game away.
Decatur was shut out in the final two quarters and only recorded two first downs in the second half.

Although Kennedale averaged 12.6 yards per carry, Fuller said he was proud of the defense’s effort. The Eagles forced two turnovers and also made a goal line stand on fourth down.

Now, Fuller and Decatur’s focus shifts to using this game as a teaching point to improve and grow.

“It was a nightmare for us from start to finish,” Fuller said. “We didn’t execute the things we needed to do to be successful against a team like this. It started bad and kind of got worse. I think it was my fault, [but] I think we have a lot of pride and can learn from it.”

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