Drew Sanders put his defense in position to stop the zone read. With Killeen attempting a two-point conversion to go ahead late in the fourth quarter, the Leander Vandegrift coach expected Killeen running back Daniel McCants to get the ball.
He didn’t have much reason to think otherwise. McCants ran all over the Vipers, racking up 182 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.
However, the Roos called for a pass. And then Vandegrift got lucky. The pass was batted around in the end zone and fell harmlessly to the ground, preserving the Vipers’ one-point lead.
“I thought they were going to run the zone on that play and I called the defense to stop it,” Sanders said. “That is the play for McCants and they did something different and we accidently stopped that play.”
Vandegrift quarterback Jamie Hudson then picked up 22 yards on a third and 18 and the Vipers ran the clock down and defeated Killeen 36-29 on Friday at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“We thought they were going to pile it in there I guess,” Killeen coach Sam Jones said. “If we do it all over again, I could run it now. I wouldn’t throw a pass. You can second guess yourself all night. … If it was a district ball game (there is) no way we do it that way. But, it is a preseason game and hopefully by the time we make it to district we can make the right decision and they can perform.”
It looked like the Vipers (2-0) were going to go up big on the Roos early when Killeen quarterback Garrett Gaskamp was intercepted by Justin Hirschhorn at the 31 and he returned it 20 yards.
Gaskamp’s error, though, only cost the Roos (0-2) three points as the defense tightened down and forced a three-and-out.
Keondre Parker almost got it back when he returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards. McCants then scored his first touchdown of the night, hauling it in from 18 yards out. Later he hauled in a 37-yard pass to give the Roos a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and Gaskamp put the Roos on top with a quarterback sneak.
The Roos nearly put the game out of reach before the half, marching 65 yards in 35 seconds. However, they settled for the easy points and a 19-yard field goal by Alex Gilland after spiking the ball with one second left.
But the Vipers only needed one big play to get back in the game. Down 23-10, Peterman broke through again, this time hauling in an 85-yard touchdown pass from Hudson. The Roos fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Hudson, who rushed 20 times for 152 yards — 115 in the second half — took it to the end zone himself, churning out 17 yards for the game-tying score.
“We felt like they were overplaying us to the outside and it opened up the middle and we have a good running quarterback, so we took advantage of that,” Sanders said.
Killeen fumbled its next possession away as well. Fighting for extra yards, Parker lost the ball and Vandegrift recovered. Eight plays later, Hudson hit Christian Reyes on a 21-yard screen pass to regain the lead 30-23. The Vipers added a touchdown as time expired when Tristan Prukop returned Gaskamp’s desperation heave for a game-ending score.
“Hopefully we can get all of this out of our system, learn from it, get better and by district time I hope we are where we need to be,” Jones said. “I would love to win and sit here and tell you we are 2-0, but there are some things we have to fix and that is what a good team will do, and I believe we are a good football team.”