GATESVILLE — Class 4A No. 4 Waco La Vega beat Gatesville 49-15, but it was not the Hornets’ biggest loss Friday.
The Pirates broke open a tied game by scoring 35 unanswered points in the second half en route to cruising to a victory, and helping deny the Hornets a playoff berth.
But only momentarily.
Gatesville maintained hope of advancing to the playoffs via a Brownwood victory against China Spring, but the Cougars rallied from a 27-16 halftime deficit to win 47-34, crushing the Hornets’ postseason chances. China Spring's margin of victory was especially devastating. Gatesville still would have advanced if the Cougars had won by eight or less.
Instead, the Hornets will be the league's only team home for the postseason.
Gatesville (3-7, 1-3 District 5-4A) opened its finale by capping off the game’s first drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior Tyler Lewis, but La Vega responded with a touchdown approximately two minutes later when Jar’quae Walton ran for an 18-yard score.
Midway through the second quarter, the Pirates, who entered the contest as district champions, took a 14-7 lead as Ara Rauls III found Taequan Tyler for a 67-yard touchdown to complete a one-play drive.
The Hornets were able to tie the score 14-14 going into halftime, though, after Kyle Stifflemire crossed the goal on a 2-yard run with 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
La Vega (8-2, 4-0) went on to dominate the second half, though.
Gatesville senior quarterback Preston Preciado completed 11 of 15 passes for 113 yards with Lewis accounting for 87 yards on five receptions. Lewis also accounted for 43 yards on five carries, while teammate Anthony Costas carried the ball 18 times for 37 yards.
Pirates sophomore running back Elisha Cummings posted a game-high 245 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.