Gatesville beat Vernon on Friday, but the Hornets won the game before ever stepping foot on the field.
After scoring the first 20 points of the Class 3A area-round playoff game, Gatesville cruised to a 40-28 victory at Weatherford’s Kangaroo Stadium. The Hornets produced 441 total yards, finished with two 100-yard rushers, scored every time they entered the red zone and did not commit a single turnover in the dominating performance.
The showing, however, was merely the byproduct of a perfect week of practice, according to Gatesville receiver/defensive back Tyler Jaynes.
“This past week was probably one of our best practices, and if we can practice like that every week, there is no doubt we will make it all the way to state,” the senior said. “Our intensity was heavy the whole week, we were flying around to the ball, and we were all pumped. There was never a play off, and we took every play seriously in practice.”
The preparation showed on both sides of the ball against the Lions as Gatesville produced points on seven of 10 possessions, while defensively forcing a turnover or punt on all of Vernon’s drives in the first half. Against a high-scoring offense, Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper believed the early stops were critical to the outcome.
“I think (that was the key to the game),” the coach said. “The defense really just came up huge in the first half and gave us some cushion. But hats off to the Lions, they just wouldn’t go away.”
Vernon scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, getting within a dozen points on three separate occasions, but could not slow down the Hornets’ explosive offense, and no player had a better individual outing than quarterback Cole Edmiston. The senior passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a game-high 161 yards and three scores, playing a role in all five of the Hornets touchdowns.
In the fourth quarter, Edmiston recorded two rushing touchdowns, including a 65-yard run with 2:19 remaining, and found Danny Byrd in the end zone to keep the Lions from ever making a true threat at a comeback.
Following the win, Byrd, who finished with a game-high 78 yards on four catches, admitted his team’s undefeated run through its schedule is hard to comprehend.
“I knew we were going to be pretty good, but I don’t think anybody knew we were going to be 12-0,” the senior said.
Throughout the season and postseason, a major reason for the Hornets’ success has stemmed from their ability to field a versatile offense capable of attacking in multiple ways. Running back Jake Kee has consistently provided Gatesville with a second option out of the backfield behind dual-threat Edmiston, and he continued to produce against Vernon.
The junior ran for 138 yards, but did a majority of his damage early, accounting for 101 yards on seven first-half carries, including four of 9 yards or longer.
“The stats are deceiving,” Edmiston said of Kee’s performance. “He hits the hole so fast and is so quick and shifty, his stats don’t show what he really did.”
- Gatesville (12-0) vs. Monahans (8-4), Division II- 3A regional at Shotwell Stadium, Abilene — Monahans is coming off a huge win, eliminating No. 6 Shallowater from the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Much of the credit belongs to junior quarterback Haasan Walker, who alternated series with typical starter Zack Navarro in the 21-7 victory. After earning his first varsity start a mere two weeks ago, Walker has received significant playing time with performances like he had against the Mustangs, when he ran for a game-high 125 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.