By Bill Peterson
Editor at Large
BUDA – Winds gusting to 35 miles per hour Friday night blew a difficult and ugly game on the Hays Rebels, who ended it with a first-round playoff loss and a bench-clearing brawl.
The Rebels fell, 26-14, to Magnolia at Bob Shelton Stadium, ending their season 7-4 overall after winning the District 17-4A championship. The Rebels turned up their least prosperous game of the season, throwing five interceptions among their six turnovers and totaling 285 yards, about 80 below their average of 363 yards.
Hays breathed its last with 1:29 left, when Magnolia’s A.J. Huskey intercepted junior quarterback Sam Breyfogle at the Hays 20 as the Rebels, down 26-14, tried to work one more miracle. Tempers flared at the end of the play and both benches cleared to the middle of the field.
The fight only lasted about a minute, but it was long enough to scar the end of the Hays season. When the game ended, the Magnolia players declined to shake hands with their opponents, eschewing the high school football tradition.
“That was an embarrassment to me,” Hays coach Bob Shelton said about the fight.
Shelton apologized after the game to Magnolia coach Andy Sexton, who said he ordered his players to not line up for the hand shake because he didn’t want to take a chance with 16-18 year old kids so near the heat of the moment. Shelton said he understood Sexton’s concern.
“(Sportsmanship) deteriorated on their side,” Sexton said. “Their coach apologized.”
But the offense deteriorated first for Hays, which managed only 135 yards after halftime and threw three interceptions into the wind.
The most damaging came on the last play of the first half, when Dai’Jon Chaney picked Breyfogle and went back 67 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 20-14 lead. The wind knocked the pass down about halfway into its flight.
From that point forward, every Hays possession ended with a turnover.
“It was like we went back to playing more like we were at the beginning of the year,” Shelton said. “We were doing a pretty good job at the end with not having turnovers. The wind was a difficult factor tonight. It seemed like when we got the football, they got it back.”
Magnolia finished with 314 yards, all on the ground behind a physical wishbone offense. The Bulldogs pulled out of reach with 4:33 left in the game, when Sean McKeown ran three yards for a touchdown after carries of 14 and 33 yards.
Fullback Arnold Nevarez led the Bulldogs with 117 yards, but three other Magnolia runners reached 49 yards or more. Magnolia threw only one pass, which would have been intercepted, except Hays cornerback Ryan Slaughter elected to knock down the fourth- down throw on the goal line.
“It’s what the kids believe in,” Sexton said of the wishbone, which is all but dead in the larger divisions of Texas high school football. “Some people want us to throw, but this is a physical style of offense and our kids want to be physical.”
The first half was the most even and wide-open portion of the game as both offenses scored two touchdowns.
Magnolia opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 41-yard touchdown run by Alex Smith. Hays responded quickly, going 95 yards in eight plays to tie the game on a two-yard run by Torrance Smith.
Breyfogle threw for two big gainers to move the Rebels down field. An 18-yard pass to Brandon Lawrence converted third down from the Hays eight to keep the possession alive. Later, Breyfogle and Slaughter combined for 66 yards to the Magnolia eight when Slaughter caught the ball on the opponents’ 40 and made a move on the right sideline to shake loose.
Hays took its only lead of the game four minutes into the second quarter when Trey Berry ran for one yard on fourth and goal. But Magnolia responded with 66 yards in 12 plays to tie the game with 1:35 left in the half on a two-yard run by McKeown.
Hays took possession at its own 35 with 1:27 left in the half, intending to score before intermission. But Chaney’s interception and touchdown return foreshadowed that the Hays offense would score no more and the season would end that night.Email | Print