By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
AUSTIN - Lampasas' offense seemingly couldn't be stopped.
Not any time this season and not Friday night in the 3A Region IV regional playoff against La Vernia.
The Badgers ran for 374 yards, including 167 from running back Justin Maldonado.
But the defense couldn't stop anyone either - especially not La Vernia running back Aaron Grubb.
Grubb had 236 yards on 28 carries and scored three touchdowns Friday to lead the Bears past Lampasas 36-21 at Round Rock's Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
"Grubb is like a water bug," said La Vernia coach Bo Robinson. "He is pretty slippery and quick ... that is the first time he carried the ball that much this year.
"Our offense goes through him and we knew we were going to have to match them score for score."
The only thing that stopped the Lampasas (10-2) offense was the Badgers themselves.
"A few times we had penalties, another time we had Secody (Howard) open and we didn't hit him, then we fumbled," said Lampasas coach Joey McQueen. "Really, they never stopped us. We just didn't play very well."
In the second quarter, with the Badgers driving, both Maldonado and Marcus Kehoe had to leave the game with minor injuries. Without them, the drive which had started at their own 20 stalled at the La Vernia 15 as senior quarterback Brandon Scott missed an open Howard at the 5-yard line.
The next play, Grubb made them pay.
The Bears senior running back took off down the sideline and with a key block from Josh Rutledge, broke free into the end zone. The 85-yard run put the Bears ahead 22-15.
"When we got stopped there and then he goes for 85 - that was tough," McQueen said.
La Vernia (7-5), who will play West Columbia next week in the quarterfinals, opened the scoring after quarterback Vince Gill hit Levi Andrews for a 32-yard score in the corner of the end zone.
Lampasas answered, driving 63 yards in a minute and 20 seconds. The drive was keyed by a 31-yard run by Marcus Kehoe and capped off with a 14-yard touchdown run by Howard. Maldonado did the damage on the Badgers' next possession, shooting through the gap and down the sideline for a 47-yard score.
Lampasas' defense just couldn't come up with the stops it needed, though. The Bears drove 69 yards in 3:19, with Grubb scoring on a 7-yard run. Then he hit the Badgers with the 85 yarder and La Vernia went into the half up seven.
After Lampasas' first drive of the third quarter seemed to stall, the Badgers were bailed out on a facemask penalty. On the next play, Scott scored from 11 yards out on a quarterback keeper up the middle.
However, the two-point conversion was botched and the Badgers still trailed 22-21.
"We thought we were going to tie it up ... We had a long drive like we wanted to, but didn't get the extra point," McQueen said. "But, it didn't matter because we couldn't stop them."
The Badgers went three-and-out on their ensuing possession and then Grubb finished them off with a 13-yard touchdown run to put the Bears up 29-21. And after the Bears forced Lampasas to punt, Gill broke off a 25-yard run as La Vernia moved down the field with ease. Gill then finished the drive with a 1-yard keeper to put La Vernia up by the final margin of 15.