GATESVILLE — Jake Kee finally looked like himself again Friday night, as the defending 8-3A Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns to lead Gatesville to a 23-13 win against Taylor at McKamie Stadium.
Kee had just 25 yards in Week 2 as the Hornets (2-2) sputtered to a 44-19 loss to Waco Connally.
That changed Friday thanks to Kee and timely turnovers by the Hornet defense.
“It was good for (Kee) to get a breakout game, really get that O-line rolling and get our run game going,” Hornet coach Kyle Cooper said, “so (I’m) really proud of those guys.”
Gatesville had a hard time finishing drives in the first half, with two missed field goals and an interception in Taylor territory.
But Kee put the Hornets on the board first with a 48-yard burst for a 6-0 lead with 6:24 to play in the first.
Taylor (1-3) evened the score at 6 on the first play of the second quarter when junior Joseph Lopez hit a wide-open Tim Bailey for a 54-yard touchdown.
But the Hornets nearly stole the momentum right back on the extra point, which was blocked and nearly returned for a two-point conversion.
Instead, Gatesville had its second consecutive drive end in Taylor territory as a Mark Mata interception and a missed field goal left the Hornets with no points to show for two drives that reached inside the Duck 30.
Gatesville, however, capitalized on its next drive, as sophomore Jeff Speer rolled left on second down and found Andraque Jones for a 19-yard catch and run to make it 13-6 with 3:42 to play in the first half.
Despite missing scoring opportunities at the end of the half and to start the third quarter, Kee put his team comfortably ahead when he took a direct snap 61 yards on third-and-5 for a 20-6 advantage at the 5:05 mark in the third.
Kee also later helped Gatesville chew up clock late in the game, carrying a herculean 28 times on the night.
“It was a big difference (from Week 2),” Kee said.
“Our O-line did a great job tonight. I just give them the props, I couldn’t do it without them.”
What else helped Gatesville put the game away was an interception, fumble recovery and two turnovers on downs forced by the defense in the second half.
“We’re really proud of our defense,” Cooper said. “(We) retooled a few things after last week and kind of challenged those guys a little bit, and I really felt they stepped up to the challenge.
“I thought they played really well tonight.”
And after improving to .500 on the season with the win, Kee was left with a much brighter outlook than he had after the loss to Connally.
“We’re a young team, and we’re finally coming along,” Kee said, “so I feel good about these upcoming games.”