By ZACH SMITH, Four Points News
This time around, Vandegrift’s second-half surge wasn’t quite enough.
Despite scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the second straight week, the Vipers couldn’t overcome a four-touchdown deficit in their 28-14 loss to Klein Collins in the area round of the playoffs on Nov. 22.
“Tonight’s loss definitely hurts, but in a couple of weeks I’ll reflect back on all the great things the seniors have done,” Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said. “We knew coming into the game that they outweighed us. We were able to move most of the year, but they were able to get a hold of us, and we weren’t able to get off.”
Vandegrift senior quarterback Dru Dawson completed 23 of 29 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Trey Mongauzy caught 12 passes for 96 yards, and Blake Youngblood finished with 25 yards and a touchdown.
The Vipers combined for 35 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Nathan Andrade rushed for a five-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Vandegrift turned the ball over three times in the first half, and the Tigers took advantage with a pair of touchdowns off of those turnovers.
The Klein Collins rushing attack was punishing all night, combining for 344 yards and four touchdowns on 50 attempts. Braelon Bridges had 209 yards and three touchdowns for the Tigers.
“We were able to box him up a little more in the second half,” Sanders said. “That running back is special. I was very concerned with him coming into the game, and he just has a little burst that we don’t have.”
Friday was a rematch from last year when Vandegrift outlasted Klein Collins in double overtime to break through to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since jumping up to Class 6A.
The Vipers turned the ball on their third play of the game, and Bridges was in the end zone just one play later to give Collins the lead. He scored again on a four-yard run just before the end of the first quarter.
Tigers quarterback Colby Powers kept it for a 14-yard score with more than two minutes left in the first half. The Vipers tried to get tricky with the throwback pass just before the break, but it was intercepted.
“To turn the ball over like we did in the first half, we can’t overcome that against a good team,” Sanders said.
Collins marched down the field on the first drive of the second half and scored on a six-yard run by Bridges.
Vandegrift got on the board when Dawson threw a perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone to Youngblood for a nine-yard touchdown to cap off a 14-play, 67-yard drive. Andrade rushed for a touchdown with just under three minutes remaining.
It’s not too early to appreciate the legacy that this senior class is leaving.
They were freshmen when the Vipers jumped up to Class 6A before the 2016 season. Since then, Vandegrift has five playoff wins, two district titles and an undefeated regular season streak that currently sits at 20 games.
“I owe them a lot because it’s tough to move up in classification,” Sanders said. “There are some really nice things these guys have done, and I’m going to try to focus on those things rather than the loss tonight.”