By JASON GORDON
SCHERTZ – Hays senior outside linebacker Brandon Poole may have earned himself a permanent starting spot Friday night at Clemens.
With the Rebel offense sputtering in the first half, Poole began a trend with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in his first varsity start.
It was the first of three pick-6s for the Rebels as they went on to dominate Clemens 42-7.
Poole’s interception return gave Hays (6-1, 3-1 27-4A) a 14-0 halftime lead.
Things changed quickly in the third quarter as Caleb Kimbro hit Taven Mayberry with a perfectly-placed 24-yard touchdown pass. Cornerback Christian Rodriguez followed with a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown off a JJ Elkins pass. Three plays later, Hays’ other cornerback Jared Rodriguez snared a 20-yard pick-6 after an Elkins pass.
The three touchdowns in a 70-second span put the Rebels ahead 35-0. Colin Hubert and Travis Noey also intercepted Elkins passes for the Rebels and Granger Studdard recovered a fumbled Clemens punt to help lead the turnover onslaught.
“Our defensive backs blew the game open tonight,” said Hays head coach Blake Feldt. “They couldn’t have played any better.”
Jared Rodriguez said it was a competition to see who could get the next pick-6 for the Rebels.
“Everybody on my side of the field was getting one – first Brandon and then Christian – I knew it was going to be my turn next,” said Jared Rodriguez. “I think Brandon doing what he did in his first start got us all pumped up.”
Poole said he just wanted to play well and help the Rebels earn a win.
“It was pretty exciting when I got that interception,” Poole said. “The field just opened up in front of me and I knew I wanted to score. Kyle Cox got a great block for me and after that I knew I was going to make it to the end zone.”
Hays is sitting in a two-way tie with Kerrville Tivy for second place in district and is back in the running for a share of the championship after the previously unbeaten Antlers fell to Alamo Heights on Friday. To claim a District 27-4A title, the Rebels will probably have to win each of their final three games against Seguin, Boerne Champion and a Nov. 9 showdown against the first-place Mules.
“You dream about games like this from back when you were a little kid,” Christian Rodriguez said. “All those pick-6s were amazing. “
Clemens (0-7, 0-4), which scored on the final play of the game, remained winless on the season. Hays held the Buffaloes to 71 yards total offense in the first half and 176 total yards for the game.
Hays has allowed only 13 points per game this season. The Rebel first-team defense has given up only six touchdowns all year.
“Our defense was outstanding again tonight,” Feldt said. “They kept us in the game early when we weren’t doing much on offense.”
Kimbro led the Rebels offense with 100 yards rushing and 137 yards passing.
Up next for Hays is an improved Seguin team. The Rebels host the Matadors next Thursday at Shelton Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.