BUDA – Christmas came just a few hours early for the Hays High football team Dec. 24.
A 28-point second half blitz spearheaded a comeback for the ages as Hays rallied for a thrilling 62-41 Region IV, semifinal win over the San Antonio Taft Raiders at Bob Shelton Stadium.
That victory pushes Hays into the 6A, Division II State Quarterfinals where Hays takes on Central Texas neighbor Vandegrift for the Region IV title. Kickoff for that contest is Saturday, Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. at Bob Shelton Stadium and is Hays’ fourth straight home playoff game in a row.
Carrying Hays into its deepest playoff run since 2006 was adequacy in nearly every phase of the game. It began with special teams via a 98-yard Hays kickoff return by Chris Bruce, which at the time gave Hays a 14-7 first quarter lead.
Hays quickly leaned on its offense, led by quarterback Durand Hill, wide receiver Michael Boudoin and running back Quincy Jackson, to keep pace with an equally explosive Taft attack. Both programs went toe-to-toe in the first two frames and traded body blow after body blow. Hays and Taft accounted for six touchdown plays of 30-yards or more in the first 24 minutes of the contest.
A one-yard touchdown run by Durand Hill tied the score at 34-34 at intermission following a missed extra point.
But Hays’ defense stepped forward in the final two frames and shut out Taft’s adept ground game for the rest of the contest. Raider quarterback Justice Hurt and running back TJ Andrews collected more than 260 yards rushing combined but was limited greatly by Hays’ defense.
Meanwhile the Hays offense kept the ball rolling and gathered separation with 14 unanswered third quarter points to take a 48-34 lead. They maintained momentum into the final frame with 14 more unanswered points which included a 39-yard interception for a touchdown by Will Agnew late in the contest to seal the deal.
Hill threw for 17 yards and a touchdown on only two total passes in the game Friday. He also rushed for 119 yards on 19 carries and two scores. Jackson rushed the ball 12 times for 125 yards and a touchdown while Boudoin rushed for 72 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
Hays’ push to the state quarterfinals marks the program’s deepest playoff run since the team reached the same round in the 4A (now 5A) ranks in 2006.