Senior Jerry Taylor, left, and his Hinkley defensive teammates stop Gateway junior RJ Webster short of the goal line during the first quarter of the Thunderbirds’ 38-36 win over the Olympians on Sept. 13, 2019, at Aurora Public Schools Stadium. A similar defensive stand at the goal line in the closing seconds helped Hinkley hold on to improve to 2-0. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | Down 23-0 at halftime to Aurora Public Schools rival Gateway, things didn’t look promising for the Hinkley football team Friday night at APS Stadium.

The Thunderbirds were plagued by penalties and turnovers in the opening half, but coach Michael Farda’s team did nearly everything right in the final two quarters on their way to a thrilling 38-36 victory that moved them to 2-0 on the season.

Senior Xavier Starks and junior Ty’Ren Draper rushed for two touchdowns apiece as part of a 31-point fourth quarter for Hinkley, which took its first lead of the game with just 1 minute, 29 seconds, remaining and held on.

Gateway (1-2) got down to the 1 yard-line inside the final minute, but juniors Antwuan Smith and Erick Covington were stopped short of the goal line and the clock ran out on coach Taylor Calvert and the Olys.

Covington’s touchdown passes to Smith and junior Tony Gallegos and his rushing touchdown — plus Allen Barron’s 34-yard field goal — had staked Gateway to a 23-0 halftime lead, as they picked off Starks twice to overcome some turnovers of their own.

The lead grew even larger when Covington hooked up with senior Lanier Deruso for a touchdown in the third quarter, but senior Jerry Taylor’s blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown got Hinkley going.

Starks scored on the first play of the fourth quarter and ran in the 2-point conversion to make it a 29-16 game, but Covington came right back with his fourth touchdown toss — this one 12 yards to senior DJ Wilson — to restore a 20-point lead for Gateway.

That disappeared during a five-minute stretch in which Draper scored twice — the last time to give the Thunderbirds the lead — and Starks once, plus a couple of 2-point conversion runs.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

HINKLEY 38, GATEWAY 36

Score by quarters:

Gateway  7  16   6    7 — 36

Hinkley    0    0   7  31 — 38

SCORING

First quarter

Gateway — Tony Gallegos 10 yard pass from Erick Covington (Allen Barron kick), 5:06

Second quarter

Gateway — Antwuan Smith 20 yard pass from Covington (kick failed), 6:49

Gateway — Covington 15 yard run (Barron kick), 3:40

Gateway — Barron 34 yard field goal, 0:44

Third quarter

Gateway — Lanier Deruso 9 yard pass from Covington (kick failed), 7:05

Hinkley — Jerry Taylor 17 yard punt block return (Xavier Starks run), 3:32

Fourth quarter

Hinkley — Starks 2 yard run (Starks run), 11:54

Gateway — DJ Wilson 12 yard pass from Covington (Barron kick), 9:05

Hinkley — Ty’Ren Draper 19 yard run (Starks run), 6:22

Hinkley — Starks 16 yard run (Starks run), 4:43

Hinkley — Draper 64 yard run (run failed), 1:29