By Nick Talbot and Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
It is do-or-die time for the Lampasas Badgers.
After high hopes before the season began, the Badgers are in a must-win situation Friday if they are going to make the playoffs. And it won't be easy. Lampasas has to travel to perennial 3A power Liberty Hill.
But at least they have the points in their favor. With time ticking down in the fourth quarter against Salado and up 24-14, the Badgers kept trying to score one last touchdown.
"We can celebrate now, but we have to get ready for Liberty Hill at their place," said Lampasas coach Joey McQueen. "It should be tough. We had to get that last touchdown at the end because our district uses a 17-point system. If we end up in a tie with somebody, I want to make sure we have the max points."
The Badgers got the score and beat Salado 31-14.
The win was also the Badgers' first win over a 3A team this season. They had lost to 3A schools, Burnet, Llano and Lorena, but had beaten every 4A school on their schedule (Manor, Austin Travis, Leander Rouse and San Angelo Lake View).
"Heck, we needed to win (against Salado)," McQueen said. "We finally beat a 3A school. Every loss we had had been the 3As. We beat the 4As."
Fast start, no finish for Eagles
Up 7-0 over Lampasas in the second quarter, Salado had its chance to put away the Badgers early.
It just could not capitalize and finish off its drive. After driving down to the Lampasas' 27-yard line, the Eagles' Cole Brentham was sacked for a loss of 8 yards. Then on second-and-13, Salado only managed 3 yards on a busted screen pass.
Brentham's next pass soared incomplete and then his next pass was tipped at the line and caught by offensive lineman Clint Scarborough for a loss of 3 yards and a turnover on downs.
Then in the fourth quarter and down 17-14, Salado went for a fake punt on a fourth-and-2 from its own 29. However, Peyton Best was stopped a yard short of the first down and Lampasas scored three plays later.
New stingers for Hornets
The Gatesville Hornets may have found extra options for their offense just at the right time.
Looking to return to the playoffs, the Hornets went into Friday's game with Waco Connally with an offense that had 2,730 yards of total offense this season. Of that total, 62 percent (1,695) came through the air.
Against Connally, Gatesville racked up 417 yards of offense.
But from that total, only 120 came via the pass. Quarterback Jake Truss was 9-of-21 passing with a touchdown.
Gatesville ran for a season-high 297 yards, more than the Hornets had combined in their previous three games. Jake Kee led the attack with 78 yards on five carries, while Kevin Clarke and Garrett Featherston added 72 and 50, respectively.
By the numbers
15.6 - average yards per carry for Gatesville's Jake Kee, who finished with 78 yards against Waco Connally on just five carries. Kee scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, going in from 15 and 17 yards.
1.72 - average yards per first-half rush attempt Lampasas had Friday against Salado. The Badgers had 28 yards on 22 carries before finishing with 268 yards for the game. Justin Maldonado ran for all but 12 of his 208 yards in the second half.
80 - total number of yards for the Florence offense against fourth-ranked Cameron Yoe.
2-of-11 - conversion rate for Salado on third and fourth down against Lampasas. The Eagles were 2-of-8 on third down and 0-of-3 on fourth.
Waco La Vega (5-3, 2-1 in 19-3A) at Gatesville (3-5, 1-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday - There's only one unbeaten team in District 19-3A through three weeks of play, so that likely leaves four teams fighting for two remaining playoff spots (Waco Connally is winless on the year).
Lampasas (5-3, 1-2 in 25-3A) at Liberty Hill (6-2, 3-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday - Three teams are ahead of Lampasas in the District 25-3A standings, and the Badgers have already lost to Burnet and Llano. A win over co-leader Liberty Hill should put Lampasas back into the playoffs
Florence (2-6, 0-4 in 12-2A) at Troy (5-3, 2-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The Buffaloes have been reeling in district play, getting outscored 169-46. Now they must face Troy, a preseason favorite which is coming off a loss to Little-River Academy.
Salado (1-7, 0-3 in 25-3A) at Taylor (1-7, 0-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday - The move to 3A has been hard on the Eagles, but this week they face Taylor, which has also been struggling mightily this season. Both teams will be looking to pick up what could be their only district win.