LIBERTY HILL — In the first quarter, Gatesville ran nine plays with none occurring in the red zone and collected just two first downs.
But it was a good thing.
The Hornets’ quick-strike offense scored 21 straight points in the opening quarter en route to a 48-25 victory at Liberty Hill, capping its first undefeated season since going 15-0 and winning a state championship in 2000.
“It feels awesome,” Gatesville quarterback Cole Edmiston said of the perfect regular-season record. “All of our hard work paid off. Coming out tonight, we all had confidence we could do it, and just to do it, I don’t even have words for it. It’s just awesome.”
While Edmiston was referring to the season as a whole as “awesome,” he could have just as easily been talking about running back Jake Kee’s performance. The junior finished with a game-high 244 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries.
“(That is the best game I’ve had) since
junior high,” Kee said. “It’s great. Now we are 10-0, and I know I did a big majority to help out on that, and it just feels amazing.”
From the first possession, it was apparent Kee was primed to have a big game.
After receiving the game’s opening kickoff, it took just two snaps for the Hornets to find the end zone as Kee broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run. And it was just the beginning of an impressive half for the team’s leading rusher.
On possession later, Kee took a direct snap and ran for a 50-yard touchdown before the Panthers’ turnover on downs set up a one-play touchdown drive with Edmiston finding Tyler Jaynes for a 78-yard touchdown.
Gatesville’s Brantley Cole recovered a Panthers’ fumble on the ensuing possession, and the Hornets needed just three snaps to take a 28-0 lead off Kee’s third touchdown of the half. This time Kee scored from 30 yards out, giving the Hornets four touchdowns on their first four possessions.
“It starts with our line,” Kee, who posted 116 rushing yards on six carries in the first half, said. “They did an excellent job, and so did our fullbacks. I just saw the hole and took off running as fast as I could.
Liberty Hill (6-4, 2-3) responded in the second quarter, scoring 13 consecutive points to make the score 28-13 heading into halftime, but it was not enough. The Hornets outscored the Panthers 17-6 in the third quarter thanks to Sebastian Corrales’ 42-yard field goal, a second scoring connection between Edmiston and Jaynes and Kee’s fourth and final touchdown run of 51 yards.
The victory occurred in the final contest at Liberty Hill’s tradition-rich Panther Stadium as the team prepares to move to a new stadium next season. In the stadium’s farewell game, there was little Liberty Hill could do to slow down the Hornets, who accumulated 419 total yards of offense.
“One of the greatest attributes these kids have is they are very consciousness,” Gatesville coach Kyle Cooper said. “It is fun to coach when the kids care about it. They have an attention to detail, and they execute the game plan.”
The Hornets now turn their attention to the postseason. Gatesville will face District 7-3A’s Alvarado in the bi-district round Friday at Waco Midway, and the Hornets intend to continue executing their philosophy to perfection.
“It has worked for us pretty good so far, so we are planning on sticking with it,” Cooper said. “We are just going to put the kids in the best position we can and allow them to go out there and make plays. They’ve done that for 10 games now, so I expect them to rise to the occasion.”