Hays (4-5) improved to 3-2 in district play after a critical win on the road Friday at Gupton Stadium against the Vista Ridge Rangers (4-4), setting up the Rebels for a potential fourth place finish and a playoff bid.
Rebel running backs Cade Powell and Thailand Mayberry combined for five of Hays’ six rushing touchdowns on the night, with Mayberry leading the team with four touchdown runs.
Hays defense set the tone for the night with a three and out on the opening drive of the game.
The Rebel offense followed up the defensive stand with a 31-yard touchdown run up the middle by Powell. Vista Ridge senior running back Joe Goodwin answered Hays touchdown with a 2-yard touchdown run of his own on the following possession.
Mayberry recorded his first touchdown of the night on a 13-yard score midway through the first quarter. Hays connected on a 30-yard field goal to open the second quarter, followed by a 11-yard touchdown run by Mayberry to extend the Rebel lead to 24-7.
Ranger senior quarterback Jacob Taute willed Vista Ridge back into the game after a 44-yard quarterback scramble for a touchdown with five minutes remaining in the half. But the Rebel offense didn’t slow down as they were able to score another touchdown before the end of the half, this time by junior quarterback Xavier Martinez on a 17-yard quarterback keeper.
Mayberry opened the third quarter by rumbling for a 77-yard touchdown, making it his third score of the game.
Vista Ridge answered back on the next drive with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Taute to junior wide receiver Naequwan White. Mayberry scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run at the end of the third quarter, keeping the Rebel lead a three-score difference.
Vista Ridge scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late for the Rangers. Hays prevented the Ranger offense from moving up the field for a potential game tying score to close the game.
The Rebels close the regular season with a home game Friday against Vandergrift.
District 25-6A standings as of Oct. 28
Lake Travis 3-1
Vista Ridge 2-2
Teams in playoff contention: Westlake, Vandegrift, Lake Travis, Hays, Vista Ridge
On the bubble: Vista Ridge
So how can Hays earn a playoff berth?
• Win and in – A Rebel victory over Vandegrift Nov. 3 would lock Hays into a playoff spot regardless of how Vista Ridge ends the season. Hays’ win Friday earned the Rebels a tiebreaker over Vista Ridge.
• Loss and a little help – A loss to Vandegrift doesn’t mean Hays is out of the running for a playoff spot. However, the Rebels would need Vista Ridge to lose at least one of its last two games of the season. Vista Ridge closes the year against Westlake and Lake Travis.