By Spencer Spilman
The Hays High Rebels football team started district play Friday night against a powerful Lake Travis team after an hour-long rain delay pushed back the start time. The Rebels had a fast start coming out of the delay but it didn’t last long, as the Cavaliers were just too much, taking the win on the road 62-23.
Lake Travis opened up the scoring quickly after receiving the opening kickoff. They moved the ball down the field through the air and on the ground, wasting no time.
Two big runs from Abe Willows were followed by a six-yard quarterback keeper by Charlie Brewer for the first touchdown of the game. The 72-yard drive took just three minutes.
Hays came back with a long drive of its own. Rebel quarterback Braeden Kent shared the ball around to three different receivers on the drive, and one of those went to Cody Gandy for 21 yards and got Hays into scoring position. The Cavalier defense, however, stood strong. The Rebels offense stalled inside the 10-yard line, settling for a field goal.
The Rebels would not have to wait long to get the ball back as Lake Travis fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Hays recovered with good field position. Hays’ Kent moved the ball on the ground to pick up a first down and keep the drive going on third and two. Two plays later he rolled out and pitched it to Gandy, who took it 22 yards untouched into the end zone, giving the Rebels an early 10-7 lead.
Lake Travis stormed back, and quickly. An 82-yard return on the kickoff put the Cavaliers to the Rebels’ 15-yard line. Two plays later Brewer found Connor Oates wide-open for a nine-yard touchdown. Lake Travis took back the lead just 44 seconds after losing it.
The Cavaliers got the ball back after a Hays punt, but didn’t keep it long. Rebels’ Ty Wilder made a good play in the secondary and picked-off Brewer, giving Hays the ball back right at midfield.
Kent found Jackson Effiom for a 25-yard gain, putting Hays close to the end zone again. A few plays later Kent found wide receiver Brandon Hunter from four yards out who found the end zone. Hays missed the extra point, but took a 16-14 lead.
The lead lasted 13 seconds. With the ball on the 50-yard line, Brewer passed the ball to Maleek Barkley who took it all the way for a touchdown, putting the Cavaliers back on top 21-16.
Including the long touchdown, the Cavaliers would go on to score 41 unanswered points. Lake Travis’ James Bailey blocked a punt then recovered it for a touchdown. The next play from scrimmage, Bailey forced a fumble, which he also recovered. That led to a touchdown. The Cavaliers added two field goals before halftime.
After upping the score to 55-16, Cavaliers’ backup quarterback Kevin Hathaway was intercepted by Hays’ Garrett Quinn. He returned the interception for a touchdown, bringing the score to 55-23.
Lake Travis added one more score in the fourth quarter, bringing the game to a final score of 62-23.
Hays Coach Neil Lahue was disappointed in the outcome but was optimistic for the weeks to come.
“It’s a learning experience hopefully,” said Lahue. “We have to learn from our mistakes and move on.”
The Rebels look to bounce back as they travel to play Del Valle on Friday.