Right place. Right time.
Hixson caught previously unbeaten Marion County in a convenient spot on the schedule Friday night and may have taken advantage of the Warriors looking ahead one week.
Marion County was off to its best start since 1995 with a much-anticipated date against county rival South Pittsburg next week. Hixson saw to it that the Warriors will head into that game with one loss, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 36-27 homecoming victory.
Hixson had every opportunity to quit, falling behind 27-14 with just 11:30 left in the game, but the late scores will help first-year coach Jason Fitzgerald teach an important lesson.
"We're a young football team that's just learning how to compete," Fitzgerald said. "When we got down late, we kept preaching to compete until the final horn. We saw tonight what that kind of effort can do. This will be a great teaching tool for these young players."
Actually, Marion County helped quite a bit along the way. The Warriors fumbled six times, losing all six.
The most important came on the kickoff following Trey Coleman's 3-yard TD run that shrank the margin to 27-22 with 6:18 left.
The Warriors believed Hixson would onside kick and positioned their "hands" team across the front. But Hixson kicked deep, and with fewer players aligned there, Hixson's Preston Wilkey recovered the kickoff in the Marion County end zone.
Without a second ticking off the clock, the Wildcats led 28-27.
After Hixson held and took over on downs, Marion County allowed Kedrick Bradley to score from 20 yards out, making the score 34-27 with 2:18 left. Hixson sealed the win when quarterback Gill Brown leaped into the end zone on the two-point conversion and a nine-point lead.
Hixson was not without miscues. The Wildcats fumbled five times and threw one interception.
The Warriors trailed 14-13 at halftime but came out blazing in the third quarter. A strong ground game led by Blake Zeman and Jayme Ford gave their team a 21-14 lead and stretched it to 27-14 early in the fourth.
Hixson was led defensively by Dylan Bargerstock with six stops, while Josh Zumbrunn added five. Zeman added six stops for Marion.
April Nix was presented as Hixson's homecoming queen.