By JASON GORDON
KERRVILLE – Kerrville Tivy showed Hays exactly why it hasn’t lost a district game since 2009, as the Antlers cruised to a 31-10 win over the Rebels in 27-4A action Friday night.
Tivy (3-2, 2-0) quarterback Parks McNeil scored three rushing touchdowns and the Antler defense came up big when it needed to.
Hays (4-1, 1-1) was knocked from the unbeaten ranks despite the return of quarterback Caleb Kimbro, who has accounted for more than 4,000 total yards the past two seasons. Kimbro, who had missed Hays’ last six quarters of play with an injured shoulder, rushed for 138 yards and passed for 177 more, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Rebels to victory.
Hays played a lethargic first half and trailed 17-3 at the break.
“We slept through the first half,” Hays head coach Blake Feldt said. “They came out and physically whipped us in the first half. We didn’t have any intensity, we couldn’t block anyone, and we didn’t have any fight in us.”
McNeil converted a fourth-and-1 on a quarterback sneak play to set up his own 6-yard touchdown run on Tivy’s first drive of the game. McNeil swept to the left side of the field and stretched out his arm just enough for the football to hit the pylon to give the Antlers a 7-0 lead.
Hays drove to Tivy’s 42-yard line keyed by a 24-yard Granger Studdard catch that bounced off the hands of Rebel receiver Hayden Cagle, but the drive stalled as Taven Mayberry failed to pick up any ground on a fourth-and-2 play.
Tivy’s longest scoring drive of the game came midway through the second quarter when a Kimbro 57-yard punt had the Antlers seemingly pinned in at their own 4-yard line.
A 44-yard Will Stuckey run got the Antlers out of the shadow of their own end zone, and after a bad snap left Tivy with 30 yards to go for a first down from its own 39, McNeil ran for 10 yards and completed a 12-yard pass to Tyler Ahrnes to set up a 28-yard Brad Mitchell field goal.
Keith Henry stuck Shawn Leerssen behind the line of scrimmage for a 4-yard loss on third-and-1 on Hays’ next drive, and Tivy went on the attack again.
McNeil completed passes of 14, 11 and 10 yards to Ahrnes to set up his second touchdown run of the half, this time from 2-yards out and the Antlers led 17-0 with just under two minutes to play in the second quarter.
Hays finally got on the scoreboard as Kimbro completed passes of 30 and seven yards to Cagle to set up Peyton Kisor’s 41-yard field goal to make it 17-3 at halftime.
The Rebels looked like they were ready to make a comeback after a defensive stop to start the third quarter but Christian Rodriguez fumbled a Kimbro pass near midfield. Tivy’s Connor Gawryszewski recovered the ball.
Stuckey, who finished with 152 yards rushing on 15 carries, scored untouched on a 37-yard run a few plays later to make it 24-3.
Kimbro tried to start a rally with a 21-yard touchdown run of his own on Hays’ next possession.
The Rebels appeared to have cut into the gap even further as Aaron Johnson returned a Tivy fumble 95 yards for what looked like a momentum-changing TD, but Hays was penalized for being offsides, negating the play.
McNeil scored one play later to put the game away for Tivy.
Many Hays fans left the stadium complaining about the officiating. A 46-yard Kimbro pass to Luke Park down to the Tivy 2-yard line was also called back, this time for an illegal hands to the face penalty.
“We can’t blame the refs,” Kimbro said. “We played so bad in the first half and there are no excuses for that.”
Hays running backs Taven Mayberry and Marco Solis, who combined for 304 yards rushing in last week’s win over Lehman, were held to a total of five yards on six carries against Tivy. Mayberry, who suffered a sprained ankle during his 170-yard rushing performance against the Lobos, only had two carries for four yards and one catch for nine yards against the Antlers in limited playing time.
In addition, it clearly appeared Tivy players were intentionally trying to further injure Kimbro’s shoulder.
Tivy was flagged for three late hit personal fouls on Kimbro, including one where he was hit from behind in the area near his shoulder three yards deep in the end zone after his 21-yard touchdown run. The Antlers could have been called for at least three more personal fouls on hits against Kimbro.
A Tivy defender put his helmet directly on Kimbro’s throwing shoulder when the Hays quarterback was at least two yards out of bounds in the once in the first half and another time in the second half, which didn’t draw flags from officials. With under three minutes to play in the game, Kimbro was down on the field after being tackled when a Tivy defender speared him in the shoulder and back again, another penalty that should have been called but wasn’t.
“Tivy’s players on the field and on the sideline were asking Caleb how his shoulder was after every play,” said Hays offensive and defensive lineman William Trevillion. “They weren’t asking in a nice way. They were definitely trying to hurt him.”
Hays will have a chance to improve to 2-1 in district when the Rebs play host to Lockhart for their homecoming game next Friday.
“We know we’re going to have to be ready against Lockhart,” Trevillion said. “They are a rebuilding team that’s been playing well this year. We know we have to get back into the business of winning.”