By Sean Allen
BUDA – For the first time in its 52 year history, Hays High football will get to experience the second week of the postseason at the 6A level.
A steady dose of quarterback Durand Hill, to the tune of 301 all-purpose yards, helped Hays cruise to a 38-7 bi-district playoff win over the Vista Ridge Rangers at Bob Shelton Stadium. It was Hays’ first postseason win since the 2013 season, when Hays played at the 4A (now 5A) ranks, and was the program’s first at the 6A level.
Hays moves on to play San Antonio Johnson in the area round Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bob Shelton Stadium.
Friday’s bi-district game was a rematch between Hays and Vista Ridge; the Rangers won 62-35 to start the season in late August.
Hays got the jump early on and tallied 13 quick points in the first frame which began with a two-yard touchdown run by Michael Boudoin. After forcing a turnover on downs, senior quarterback Durand Hill scored his first touchdown of the night by tossing a 70-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Bryant Lewis.
The Rangers responded with their lone score of the night on a 3-yard touchdown by sophomore running back Alex Berndlmaier. The score was made possible by a roughing the kicker penalty on Hays during a Ranger field goal attempt, which allowed that drive to continue.
But a 10-point Hays blitz in the final three-plus minutes of the first half, highlighted by a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Austin Sanchez, pushed Hays to a 24-7 lead at halftime.
Hays broke through with 14 more unanswered points the rest of the way. Senior running back Josh Rodriguez began the barrage with a 51-yard touchdown run. Following a third quarter interception by Hays defensive back Will Agnew, Hill punched in an eight yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Hays High head coach Les Goad pointed to winning the turnover battle as a factor in the win.
“I’m just so proud of that,” Goad said. “You know, offensively we protected the football, the first go around with them we gave them two turnovers, so it changed the complexity of the game. But, tonight, we really focused on that and they did a great job.”
Meanwhile, Goad said maintaining pace on offense from start to finish was critical.
“I think we scored basically every possession in the first half, either with a field goal or with a touchdown, and that was kind of big,” said Goad. “In the first drive of the second half when we came out, and we got the sack and we stopped them, you know we stopped them from scoring on that first drive the second half, I think that was when the momentum really continued with us.”
Lewis hauled in 2 catches for 92 yards and a score, with senior wide receiver William Agnew adding a reception of 14 yards.
Three running backs reached the end zone with Sanchez adding 9 carries for 41 yards. Boudoin had 7 carries for 46 yards with Rodriguez tallying 6 carries for 60 yards