BUDA – A late fourth quarter touchdown by running back Chris Bruce Friday catapulted the Hays High football team to a thrilling 35-31 area round comeback win over the San Antonio Johnson Jaguars at Bob Shelton Stadium.
With the victory, Hays advances to play San Antonio Taft in the regional semifinals Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. at Bob Shelton Stadium.
Hays (9-3) trailed 21-7 early in the second frame when Hays senior quarterback Durand Hill tossed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Michael Boudoin, cutting the Johnson lead to 21-14 at halftime.
However, Johnson quickly swiped momentum to start the third quarter via a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by wide receiver Caanan Fairley.
Johnson led 28-14 before Hays battled right back for 14 unanswered points to draw even. Boudoin kickstarted the rally with a 46-yard touchdown run, followed by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hill to wide receiver Will Agnew. Hays and Johnson were tied at 28-28 after three quarters.
Johnson temporarily broke the stalemate with a 24-yard field goal by kicker Easton Watne, which gave the Jaguars a 31-28 lead.
Hays countered with a drive that culminated in a hard-fought 18-yard touchdown run by Bruce, who broke through a stiff Jaguar defensive line and carried multiple Johnson players with him into the end zone. Bruce’s score gave Hays a 35-31 lead with minutes to go.
Johnson’s last gasp at a comeback fell short when Agnew snagged an interception in the game’s waning moments to seal the victory.
Hays’ Hill went 12 of 15 for 182 yards and two touchdown passing and rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries with a score. Boudoin rushed for 107 yards on nine carries and a touchdown and caught three passes for 65 yards with one touchdown receiving. Agnew caught three passes for 38 yards and the score.
Meanwhile, Hays’ defense limited Johnson backup quarterback Spencer Hawthorn to 202 yards on 15 of 30 passing and one touchdown with one interception.