NEW BRAUNFELS — Any thought of another second-round exit for the Holland Hornets was squelched quickly and loudly Friday night.
Holland scored six touchdowns in the first half — three by Clay Cooper — en route to a 57-0 win over Three Rivers in a Class 2A Division I area-round playoff game at Unicorn Stadium.
“I’m very proud of our coaches and our players,” Holland coach Brad Talbert said. “I think we were the more aggressive team tonight, and it was awesome.”
The Hornets (12-0), who advanced to play Mason next week at a time and location to be determined, were indeed the more aggressive team all night long, racking up 564 yards of offense and limiting the Bulldogs (8-4) to just 58.
The onslaught started early as the Hornets scored on every possession of the first half en route to a 42-0 lead.
Cooper, who had 205 yards in the half and 220 for the game on 11 carries, got it started with a 29-yard score with 9:03 left in the opening quarter for a 6-0 Holland lead after the missed extra point.
Zane Spinn threw to Caleb Cearley for a 58-yard touchdown on the second play of the Hornets’ next possession, and Cooper added a 9-yard touchdown run for a 21-0 lead by the end of the first period.
“Our offensive line was just on the whole night,” Cooper said. “Our defense was unstoppable. Once we get rolling, we’re hard to stop.”
Cooper was almost impossible to stop, with seven of his 11 carries going for 10 or more yards. His longest was a 93-yard touchdown run that made it 35-0 in the second quarter.
“I’ve got to stay on him,” Talbert said with a laugh. “He did a great job, and the O-line did a great job. When you have Brady (Shelton) and Zane, it’s hard to load the box (to stop Cooper).”
As stout as Holland’s offense was, its defense was even better. The Bulldogs’ first six drives resulted in four punts and two turnovers on downs. They had just two first downs in the first half, one of which came on a penalty, and a total of minus-1 yards.
“We didn’t really put on anything special,” Holland defensive coordinator J.B. Chaney said. “We just did what we do. Our kids are comfortable in their roles. They work at it every day to get better every day.”
The Hornets were so dominant early that the Bulldogs quickly altered their Slot-T offense, trying several formations that were to no avail.
“We made them play left-handed,” Talbert said. “We took away the things they do well. Playing Thorndale in our district kind of prepared us for the Slot-T, so we have Thorndale to thank for that.”
Along with tying the school’s mark for most wins in a season, the 57-point win also was the largest margin of victory in a playoff game in Holland’s history, besting last season’s 63-12 bi-district win over Junction — a rout that was followed by Wallis Brazos’ 38-35 upset of the Hornets a week later.
This year’s team didn’t have a letdown.
“Our focus this week was Three Rivers, Three Rivers, Three Rivers,” Cooper said. “We were looking forward to this game and not thinking about anyone else.”
Now the focus turns to Mason, the defending state champion, and Cooper is ready to see what the Punchers have to offer.
“Putting up a goose egg and dominating on defense tonight definitely makes a big statement,” he said. “It proves we are a team in to contend with.”
HOLLAND 57, THREE RIVERS 0
Three Rivers 0 0 0 0 — 0
Holland 21 21 6 9 — 57
Hol — Clay Cooper 29 run (kick failed)
Hol — Caleb Cearley 58 pass from Zane Spinn (Spinn kick)
Hol — Cooper 9 run (Logan Mann run)
Hol — Brady Shelton 5 run (Spinn kick)
Hol — Cooper 93 run (Spinn kick)
Hol — Ethan Mann 3 run (Spinn kick)
Hol — Spinn 26 run (kick failed)
Hol — Spinn 20 field goal
Hol — Cole Ralston 3 run (run failed)
First downs 5 25
Rushes-yards 34-21 40-433
Passing yards 37 131
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-12-0 4-5-0
Punts-average 5-34.2 0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 10-74 4-50
RUSHING — Three Rivers: Zach Davis 11-21, Landon Thornton 2-11, Rigoverto Sanchez 5-10, Brandon Conn 8-2, Alex Amaro 3-2, Sean Huff 2-0, Ezra Asebedo 2-(-3), team 1-(-22); Holland: Cooper 11-220, Josh Whisenhunt 8-72, Spinn 3-49, Ethan Botts 5-34, E.Mann 3-26, Clayton Baggerley 4-17, Cearley 1-16, Shelton 2-13, Ralston 1-3, Blaze Wooley 1-(-3), team 2-(-4).
PASSING — Three Rivers: Conn 4-9-0-37, Thornton 0-2-0-0, Davis 0-1-0-0; Holland: Spinn 4-5-0-131.
RECEIVING — Three Rivers: Amaro 4-37; Holland: Cearley 2-106, L.Mann 1-16, Ayden Tomasek 1-9.