by Moses Leos III
For roughly one half of play Friday, the Hays Rebels and Lehman Lobos stared each other down in a thrilling defensive stalemate.
But big plays helped Hays score 28 unanswered points in the final 24-plus minutes en route to a 35-7 win over Lehman Friday at Shelton Stadium.
With the win, Hays (2-5, 1-2 in 25-6A) claimed their 11th straight victory over Lehman (2-5, 0-3) in the all time series.
Hays took an early 7-0 first quarter lead after junior running back Cade Powell punched in a three yard touchdown on the team’s second play from scrimmage.
But the Rebel offense was stymied thereafter by a tenacious Lehman defense that forced two punts and a pair of turnovers in the Rebels’ final four drives of the first half. Hays was limited to 115 total yards in the first 24 minutes.
Lehman’s offense, however, was unable to generate movement against a Rebel defense that limited quarterback Jacob Zamora, running back Bryan Mendoza and wide receiver Tyler Henderson. Lehman’s offense was held to 178 total yards in the game, with the Lobos gaining 130 of those yards in the first half.
It was the Lobo defense that helped capture momentum for Lehman late in the second frame. Lehman defensive back Edward Arana intercepted a pass on a fourth down play and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. Lehman’s defense collected a second interception on the ensuing drive, giving Lehman’s offense a chance to score before halftime.
Hays recaptured momentum right back. A block by Hays’ defensive back Nathan Tovar on a 45 yard field goal attempt was scooped up by defensive back Hector Fuentes, who returned it for a touchdown.
Hays led 14-7 at halftime and continued to push ahead in the second half.
A blocked Lehman punt in the third quarter provided Hays prime field position they didn't waste. A second touchdown run by Powell gave Hays a 21-7 lead. Powell rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries and two scores.
While Hays' offense found some success, Lehman couldn't follow suit.
The Lobos couldn't maintain consistency, hindered by the Rebel defense. Lehman also struggled with maintaining composure, as the team committed 80 yards in penalties on the night.
Hays sped away in the fourth quarter when quarterback Tyler Conley and wide receiver Marquis Howard found a connection. Conley opened the fourth frame with a 62 yard touchdown pass to Howard.
The two connected again later in the quarter to give Hays a 35-7 lead.
Conley went 9 of 18 for 153 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Howard had 113 yards receiving for two scores.
Zamora went 8 of 24 for 77 yards and one interception. Mendoza rushed for 66 yards on 16 carries, while Henderson finished with 38 yards rushing.