Using consecutive onside kicks to start the game and then scoring rapidly with a short field, the Sealy Tigers went up 14-0 before Bellville had its first offensive possession Friday night at T.J. Mills Stadium.
The Tigers stunned the visiting Brahmas by going up 21-7 at halftime, only to have to come from behind late in the fourth quarter to get a 31-28 victory over the fifth-ranked 4A team in the state.
Down 28-24, Sealy used a four-minute, 70-yard drive capped by a 7-yard rushing score from sophomore quarterback D’vonne Hmielewski to take a 31-28 lead with only 1:59 remaining in the game.
The visiting Brahmas were unable to penetrate the Sealy defense once more after rallying from a 21-7 halftime deficit and the fifth-ranked team in “Dave Campbell’s” state rankings and the top-ranked team in “Houston Chronicle’s” area media poll fell by three points.
The Tigers notched their fourth consecutive win in the 82nd installment of the Battle of Mill Creek rivalry and secured their first home victory of the season to move to 2-0 in District 12-4A-D2. Only the La Marque Cougars – who emerged victorious, 10-7, from an overtime battle with the Royal Falcons last Friday – are also undefeated after two district games.
At halftime of Sealy’s game last week, the coaching staff knew more than 21 points were going to be needed to get the job done but offensive coordinator Chris Carruthers talked about how the underclassman signal-caller kept calm on the game-winning drive to respond to getting stuffed on a couple of consecutive drives in the second half.
“We had five minutes and 70 yards to go. We ran a run play just to get them to take a deep breath then we threw the ball a little bit and then we put the ball in his hands,” Carruthers said of Hmielewski. “For him to do that in that moment as a sophomore … for him to orchestrate that five-minute drill and to move the ball and be cool under pressure, that’s pretty special. That’s something you really can’t teach and he is really good but he’s going to be really, really good as time goes on.”
Hmielewski said he had all the confidence that the outside run play was going to work, that’s why he suggested they run it.
“I saw the defense line up and I saw who was on the left side of the line, I’m the one who called the play I told coach to call it so I knew it was going to get in,” the quarterback said. “I wasn’t going to let them stop me from getting the touchdown right there.”
The underclassman said the significance of the win was beginning to settle in postgame but he was happy to get the job done alongside his teammates.
“I want to be on this high forever but everybody was doubting us,” Hmielewski said. “They’re ranked fifth in the state, it was 80% to 20% that we were going to win, everybody was betting against us – even our school was betting against us – and we won so it feels good.”
Sealy head football coach Shane Mobley tried to instill a message to stay calm by saying this matchup was only akin to David and Goliath if they see them that way.
“My pregame talk was about David and Goliath and I said, ‘I don’t know if we’re facing Goliath tonight. It depends on if you see them as Goliath then that’s what they’re going to be,’” Mobley said. “I challenged them to play the big dog and our kids responded and did really well, this is going to be one of those fun games to go back and there’s going to be so many mistakes because those guys will make you look bad defensively and we know what we’re going to be facing in the future but we’ve got to finish this off, we’ve got to at least get another win.”
The next chance for the Tigers to collect a district win comes this Friday on the road against the Sweeny Bulldogs who took down the Wharton Tigers, 56-13, last Friday night to move to 1-1 in district play.
“To see our kids tonight, that’s all the needs to be said. It’s huge I can’t tell you the feeling from seeing what the kids did all week for our school it’s big,” Mobley said of the magnitude of the win. “The next win needs to be just as big, it’s big for our kids to see and believe we can do this.”
District 12 update
After two weeks of district play, Sealy and La Marque are the last of the unbeaten, Bellville joined Sweeny as the 1-1 teams and Royal and Wharton both fell to 0-2. In the other district matchups this week, Wharton will head to La Marque and Royal will take a trip to Bellville.
Through two district games, Bellville has scored the most points (90) and allowed the second-fewest points (38) behind Sealy and La Marque who are tied with 36 points allowed. Sweeny has scored 85 points and allowed 48 while Sealy and La Marque have scored 74 and 45, respectively. Wharton has the second-fewest points scored (20) and most points allowed (118) while Royal has the fewest points scored (15) and has allowed the second-most points (53).