Of all the blocks thrown by the Hays Rebels Friday, few had as much weight as one that happened behind the trenches.
By getting a hand on a potential game-tying extra point attempt with ten seconds left in the game, Hays’ Alex Harkey became the unlikely hero in a wild 35-34 win over the Dripping Springs Tigers (1-1) at Shelton Stadium.
For Hays (2-0) head coach Les Goad, getting that block, no matter how it took place, was the goal.
“I’m not sure if that’s how we really even drew it up but a guy (Harkey) just came through the line and got a hand up and rest is history,” Goad said. “We say the most important play is the next play, and we made that one.”
Harkey’s block capped off a thrilling affair between the two schools, which went punch-for-punch the entire game.
The Rebel rushing attack was a difference maker as they methodically marched down the field, all while controlling the clock and keeping the ball away from Dripping Springs potent pass attack.
Hays’ three-headed rushing attack of senior fullback Nash Danford, senior tailback Sam Scott and junior halfback Xavier Green combined for 341 yards on the ground and three total touchdowns.
Green led the team with 17 carries for 139 yards and a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Danford contributed 122 yards on 16 carries with two touchdown runs, while Scott added 10 carries for 80 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Hays defense struggled to stop a potent Tiger pass attack led by quarterback Tanner Prewit, who finished with 306 yards passing and four touchdowns, along with 75 yards rushing.
Hays and Dripping Springs closed the first frame tied at 14-14. A Danford touchdown gave the Rebels a 21-14 advantage early in the second quarter.
The Rebel defense closed the first half with a key interception by defensive back John Rodriguez in the second frame. They continued momentum in the third quarter with an interception by Pi-ellei Henderson.
“Well obviously the turnovers are big, but the turnovers we gave away were big also,” Goad said. “I think those things kind of balanced out themselves. Obviously we’ve got to get better at the pass coverage phase and get the pressure on the quarterback.”
But Dripping Springs fought right back, anchored by the play of wide receiver Enzo Arnold and running back Jake Cox.
Arnold was on the receiving end of a 57-yard touchdown that tied the game at 21-21 in the third quarter. After a touchdown run by Hays’ Devin Hines, Cox broke through with a critical 78-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter to re-tie the game at 28-28.
Cox finished the game with 195 yards rushing on 14 carries, while Arnold was the leading receiver with eight receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
After a huge fourth down stop by the Rebel defense late in the fourth quarter, the Rebel offense marched down the field on an 8-play, 80 yard drive and scored on a 1 yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak by senior Xavier Martinez to take the 35-28 lead.
“I told them we got to capitalize,” said Martinez. “You know it’s our time, we needed redemption, and us seniors we really wanted it.”
Prewit then drove the Tiger offense down the field during the two-minute drill and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alford with 10 seconds left in the game.
On the attempted extra point to potentially tie the game, Harkey burst through the middle of the line and got his hand on the ball, securing the win for Hays.
With the bye week coming up Friday, Goad said the Rebels are now preparing for district play.
“Now the district race starts,” Goad said. “We’ve got an open week next week and we’ve got to let this momentum carry us over the next two weeks and getting ready against that first district ball game against Anderson.”
Hays hosts Anderson Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Shelton Stadium.