A 30-point first half bombardment Friday kept the Hays High Rebels’ playoff hopes in 14-6A afloat.
Hays’ 433 total yards on offense, along with a stingy defensive effort, pushed Hays to a 37-17 win over the Del Valle Cardinals.
The Rebels hit the ground running as junior running back Cody Gandy rumbled 29-yards for a rushing touchdown. It was later followed by a safety via a blocked punt by senior linebacker Emory Cuzze.
Hays led 9-0 midway through the first quarter. Junior quarterback Braeden Kent asserted his dominance from that point.
Friday belonged to Kent, who threw for 234 yards and four scores. His first passing touchdown, a seven-yard strike to Brandon Hunter, gave the Rebels a 16-0 advantage.
Kent said that drive helped shape momentum the rest of the way. The Rebels drove 95 yards, aided by a 70-plus yard reception by Grayson Rigsby,
“That gave us a sigh of relief,” Kent said.
The Rebel offense continued their aerial assault. Kent threw two more touchdowns in the half; a second score going to Brandon Hunter.
Hays went on a 14-3 second quarter run, taking a 30-3 halftime advantage.
Hays’ defense provided the backbone for its success Friday. Led by Cuzze and Coby Brown, the Rebels stymied Del Valle’s progress all evening long. Both linebackers accumulated five tackles and a sack each.
Del Valle quarterback David Gutierrez threw for 130 yards and one touchdown. But the Cardinals couldn’t generate movement on the ground. Hays’ defense gave up only 111 rushing yards, 99 of those yards to running back Will Grear.
The Cardinals scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but Hays responded in kind in the fourth. Kent tossed a one-yard dump pass to Gandy, who turned it into a 50-yard strike, giving Hays a 37-10 lead.
Gandy finished with 219 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. Kent said Gandy’s ability to be a rushing and receiving threat keeps defenses honest.
“[Gandy is] such a threat on jet sweeps and he can catch as well,” Kent said. “He’s an amazing runner. It makes people take it into consideration. They have to respect him as a runner and a receiver.”
Cardinal running back Andre Butler scored a late touchdown, but it proved inconsequential to the final result.
Now with a win under their belt, the Rebels look to the crosstown showdown with the Lehman Lobos. Kent said the team’s ability to finish boosted team morale.
“It was a great feeling. All of our spirits were back up. We weren’t down on ourselves, but we were ready for that first win,” Kent said. “It boosted our confidence and now we are going to keep going. We are getting started right now.”