By Ryan Mayner
The Hays High Rebels fought hard but lost 49-40 to the Georgetown Eagles Friday night in a non-district matchup at Bob Shelton Stadium. Fans who waited patiently outside the stadium during a 30-minute weather delay due to lightning were treated to an exciting back and forth contest between these two playoff hopefuls that lasted until almost 11 p.m.
Both offenses proved capable of scoring almost at will through the air and on the ground. Each team played inspired defense, forcing six turnovers and making several hard hits. But in the end the offenses had their way on what was a high-scoring high school football weekend all over Texas.
Quarterback Braeden Kent, running back Cody Gandy and wideout Grayson Rigsby accounted for almost every point and yard for the home team. Kent ran for three scores and threw one to Gandy, who also ran for two more. Rigsby caught 12 passes for 137 yards.
But Eagles QB Ben Bottlinger threw five touchdown passes to his wide receivers, three to Logan Hager and two to Jo’vonta Grimble. The Rebels defense intercepted Bottlinger twice, forced a fumble, and held the Eagles to under 100 yards rushing, but in the end they were unable to contain the Eagles’ passing attack.
Hays High Head Coach Neal LaHue is in his second year with the Rebels after a long coaching career that saw him win a 5A Division II state championship as offensive coordinator for Drew Brees at Westlake High. Hays will travel to play Westlake in October in the newly created Class 6A-District 14.
“It’s just another game,” LaHue said. “To be honest, I really hadn’t thought about it. It’s an exciting challenge to be playing in this district against all these good teams.”
“And you know, your non-district schedule is supposed to prepare you for your district schedule. Georgetown is a good football team; we knew that going in, and we were prepared,” he said.
A questionable ruling early on in the first quarter resulted in a Georgetown defensive score that put Hays down 14-7 and had them playing catch-up all night long. When they finally caught up, much to the exhausted crowd’s delight, two missed extra points in the fourth quarter kept them from being able to at least tie the game in regulation. From there, Georgetown switched from a hurry-up offense to a ball control and ran out the clock.
The Rebels were unable to win their home opener and avoid starting the season 0-2 after a 44-27 loss to Boerne-Champion the previous week.
“I think there were two really good teams on the field Friday night. We didn’t play very well to start the second half, but I’m proud of the way we responded in the fourth quarter. I think we showed improvement we can build on.”
Hays faces another tough foe when Austin Lake Travis comes to town for the district opener for both teams next week. They won’t have a bye until the last week of the season.