LAMPASAS — Jake Kee reintroduced himself to the district Friday night.
After averaging 103.2 yards and scoring just two touchdowns through Gatesville’s first five games, the Hornets running back exploded for 213 yards and three second-half touchdowns against Lampasas.
The performance helped Gatesville win its District 8-3A opener 45-27 and reminded everybody exactly what Kee is capable of.
“He looked like the reigning offensive MVP of the district,” Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper said. “And we’ve got to get him going.”
Kee captured the 2012 award after rushing for 1,297 yards and 14 touchdowns during the Hornets’ 13-1 campaign, but had struggled at times during this year being the focal point of an offense that lost all but one starter.
Against the Badgers, however, Kee was almost unstoppable.
Rushing 23 times, Kee averaged 9.3 yards per carry and recorded three of the Hornets’ eight explosive plays of 20 yards or more and was instrumental in Gatesville (3-3, 1-0) scoring on seven consecutive possessions after an unsuccessful opening drive.
“I felt tired,” Kee admitted in the aftermath of the victory. “But it feels good coming off a win.”
Gatesville took a 20-13 advantage into halftime as the teams alternated scores for the first 24 minutes.
Then, Kee took over, scoring on runs of 8, 6 and 5 yards, with the final two coming in the fourth quarter as Gatesville pulled away after leading by six points, 33-27, to start the final period.
“We got into a situation where we had to match them possession for possession, and we just weren’t up for the test,” Lampasas first-year head coach Brian Emerson said. “We needed to get some stops every now and then or score more, obviously, but we were our own worst enemy (at times) there.”
Lampasas (2-4, 0-1) struck first after senior linebacker Knijan Bell-Williams intercepted Gatesville quarterback Jeff Speer deep in Lampasas territory.
The defensive stand set up Lampasas’ lone drive of the opening quarter that was finished on Gary Spencer’s 27-yard touchdown run with 2:51 remaining.
The Hornets responded with 75-yard drive capped off by Tariq Miller’s 2-yard run on the first snap of the second quarter, but Spencer’s 61-yard run set up his second touchdown of the game, giving the Badgers a 13-6 lead. Spencer finished with a team-high 192 yards on 18 carries.
Gatesville scored on each of its next two possessions with Speer, who completed 12 of 18 passes for 177 yards, running for a 15-yard score before finding Zae Paskett for a 12-yard touchdown, and the Hornets took a 20-13 lead into halftime.
Spencer, who ran for 313 yards against then-unbeaten China Spring two weeks ago, broke free for a 51-yard touchdown to open the second half, and the Badgers followed with a six-yard touchdown run by quarterback Logan Irvin, but went scoreless on their final three drives of the game.
Following an offseason of transition, Cooper feels his team is prepared to make a run at repeating as district championship, even if others might doubt his Hornets.
“The gold ball comes through Gatesville,” he said. “We’re the ones who’ve got it and our kids are excited about defending it.”