Win Against Rouse Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive

The+team+celebrates+Brett+Koster%27s+game+winning+16-yard+field+goal.+

The team celebrates Brett Koster's game winning 16-yard field goal.

Danielle Docherty and Taylor Watson, Sports Editor and Editor in Chief

Running back Yuron Shears had his best game of the season, rushing for four touchdowns and over 300 yards.

The Vandegrift Vipers’ 31-29 win Friday night against the Rouse Raiders seemed certain until the fourth quarter.

 “We all thought we could beat Rouse, but we all knew we would have to work and do our jobs for that to happen,” Vandegrift linebacker Forrest Threadgill said.

 The first three quarters of the game, the Vipers did just that. Running back Yuron Shears ran for three touchdowns totaling 113 yards, including a 54-yard run in the third quarter. Shears had his best game of the season with 17 carries, four touchdowns and over 300 rushing yards, which was the 3rd highest total in a single game in Central Texas this season.  

In the first 36 minutes of play, the Viper defense held the Raiders to 14 points, giving Vandegrift a 28-14 lead going into the fourth quarter.

 But that’s where things got shaky.

 In the fourth quarter, Rouse quarterback Tai Gaddison scored on two quarterback keepers. The second, with less than 45 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Raiders a 29-28 lead after they completed the two-point conversion.

 “We were proud of ourselves for making a comeback and never giving up as a team,” Gaddison said.

 When Vandegrift got the ball back on the Rouse 45-yard line, there were 36 seconds left on the clock. 

 “I saw [receiver] Tristan Paffe open down field because Brandon [Brown] was double covered. I knew he was going to connect the pass,” Viper quarterback Dakota Prukop said.

 On the third down, Prukop connected with Paffe on a 47-yard pass, sending the Vipers to their own six yard line with 3 seconds on the clock.

 “I felt like the momentum switched from Rouse to Vandegrift when I caught that pass,” Paffe said. “All of a sudden they got really quiet and our fans got really loud. I could feel the energy and so could my teammates.”

 The Vipers were left with one second for their remaining play – a field goal attempt by kicker Brett Koster.

 “It was just like any other kick. I don’t get nervous,” Koster said.

 As time expired, Koster’s 16-yard kick sailed between the uprights, bringing the final score to 31-29.

 “We played for the team rather than ourselves,” Paffe said. “That’s a value our coaches have been stressing since day one.”

 Vandegrift’s first varsity district win also kept their playoff hopes alive. This Friday, the Vipers take on the Marble Falls Mustangs at home in their final game of the season. If the team wins by at least 17 points, they will advance to playoffs.

 “A lot of teams will be playing for nothing but pride on Friday night, but that’s not the situation the Vipers are in,” head coach Drew Sanders said. “I encourage everyone to come out to the game to help push the boys on and show them what a playoff crowd is like.”

Sanders hopes to have the biggest Viper Walk of the season. The football boosters will host a tailgate event for the public before the walk begins at 6:25 on Friday night.