Amid a handful of first half miscues Oct. 3, the Hays Rebels stayed in the realm of the unbeaten.
A 21-point third quarter outburst ultimately helped Hays (5-0, 3-0) overcome a sluggish start en route to a 45-7 win over the Akins Eagles at Burger Stadium.
But as the back half of the 2019 campaign arrives, Rebel head coach Les Goad said his team must find a way to eliminate early game mistakes as several key tests loom.
“We figured some things out before halftime. In the second half, we figured out some blocking schemes and made some adjustments. It paid off for us,” Goad said. “We have to get off to a better start and we have to eliminate those mistakes.”
Early game struggles centered on a myriad of Rebel penalties in the first two quarters. Of the 101 yards of penalties Hays had Thursday, 55 of those were issued in the first half.
While part of those issues could have stemmed from an emotional hangover from Hays’ one-point win over Bowie, Goad said Hays “can’t use those as reasons” for early game struggles.
“We have to focus on what we can do and eliminate the penalties,” Goad said.
Hays’ struggles were Akins’ gain as the Eagles, guided by a strong defensive effort, kept the game scoreless through one quarter.
But a key turnover on downs forced by Hays’ defense early in the second frame was the catalyst for a 10-point Rebel flurry before the halftime break.
Momentum carried over into the second half as Hays scored 21 more unanswered points over a seven-minute span in the third frame, highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown run by Xavier Green, who finished with 186 yards rushing on 16 carries. Hays led 31-0 before Akins countered with its lone touchdown via a seven-yard strike from quarterback Quincy Welch to wide receiver Greg Borgeson.
Rebel running back JoeAngel Carrasco, who finished with a game-high 212 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, said the offensive line found its groove after a slow start. Hays’ offense amassed 591 total yards, 512 of those on the ground.
“They (the offensive line) just picked it up. They came out of gate strong in the second half,” Carrasco said. “They found it deep down inside.”
On the opposite side, Hays’ defense clipped the Eagles to 91 total yards of offense. Welch amassed 71 total yards in the game. Goad said the Rebel defense kept the team in “great position” in the first half, but he also lauded Akins’ effort.
“They (Akins) played their butts off and they had a great scheme for us,” Goad said.
Learning from their mistakes is now a priority for Hays as the team readies for the final half of the season. After hosting Austin High Friday and taking on Lehman Oct. 18, Hays then faces district frontrunners Westlake and Lake Travis followed by a test against a scrappy Del Valle squad. The latter three programs have a combined 14-3 overall record.
Rebel quarterback Durand Hill, who finished with 111 total yards and three scores, said coming together “as one, as a team” could go a long way toward success.
“If we’re going to really reach our potential as a football team, we have to reduce the penalties and establish our assignments more properly,” Goad said.