Vandy ral­lies to snap Cedar Ridge's streak

De­fend­ing 13-6A champs had won 15 straight in district play.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORTS - By Thomas Jones td­jones@states­man.com

District 13-6A, meet Van­de­grift. The Vipers, in their first year aligned with the Hen­drick­son and Round Rock Class 6A schools, showed off the char­ac­ter­is­tics that Van­de­grift’s pre­vi­ous district foes know well in a thrill- ing 17-14 over­time win over twotime de­fend­ing district cham­pion Cedar Ridge. Gritty. Re­silient. Tough. Pa­tient. The Vipers (3-0, 1-0) were all of that and more while ral­ly­ing from a 14-0 deficit in the fourth quar­ter and win­ning in over­time on a 33-yard field goal by Tim Bar­ney. The vic­tory snapped Cedar Ridge’s 15-game win­ning streak in district play, and it served no­tice to the rest of the nine-team district that Van­de­grift has the met­tle to match up with any of the usual 13-6A fa­vorites.

“We’re new to this district, but any­one who knows us knows that we’ll play tough,” Van­de­grift coach Drew San­ders said. “We may not al­ways win, but we’ll al­ways hang around.”

That’s ex­actly what the Vipers did in a soggy slugfest at Mon­roe Sta­dium. Cedar Ridge’s de­fense dom­i­nated large stretches of the game, and run­ning back Deuce Vaughn (191 yards from

scrim­mage) and re­ceiver Jaylen El­lis (104 yards re­ceiv­ing) spear­headed an of­fense that pro­duced 383 yards. When Raiders quar­ter­back Jalen Brown scooted in for a score from two yards out early in the fourth quar­ter, it ap­peared that Cedar Ridge (1-2, 0-1) would keep its district win­ning streak alive.

But Van­de­grift had other ideas. The Vipers re­sponded with a 12-play drive capped by a 2-yard run from se­nior tail­back Isa­iah Small­wood.

On the en­su­ing drive, El­lis drew a ques­tion­able per­sonal foul on a blind­side block that got him ejected and helped force a Cedar Ridge punt. Fueled by their sud­den mo­men­tum, Van­de­grift marched down the field and scored on a 10-yard run by Small­wood to force over­time.

“We just stayed pa­tient, believ­ing in the coaches and the game plan,” said Small­wood, who ran for 70 yards. “We’re the Vipers; we’re never out of the game.”

With­out El­lis, the Raiders seemed rat­tled in over­time. Van­de­grift sacked Brown twice to snuff their lone over­time pos­ses­sion, and the Vipers did just enough to get Bar­ney into field-goal range.

Bar­ney calmly split the up­rights, trig­ger­ing a wild cel­e­bra­tion.

“He makes them in prac­tice; I knew he’d make it in the game,” Small­wood said. “I wasn’t ner­vous at all.”

Van­de­grift’s fans must have been plenty ner­vous in the first half. Cedar Ridge posted 220 yards of of­fense be­fore the break, but the Raiders’ only score came when El­lis raced through the Viper sec­ondary to haul in an un­con­tested 41-yard bomb from Brown less than three min­utes into the game.

Van­de­grift had more prob­lems mov­ing the ball against a stout Cedar Ridge de­fen­sive front led by ends Edge Dil­lard-Wil­liams and Jimmy Es­parza. Small­wood only had 35 yards rush­ing be­fore half­time.

Over­all, the Vipers had 123 yards of their 294 yards of of­fense in the first half.

But the Vipers stayed pa­tient, stayed within strik­ing dis­tance and took ad­van­tage of the few er­rors Cedar Ridge made.

“We made some mis­takes, and you can’t do that against a team like that,” Cedar Ridge coach Sam Robin­son said. “(The Vipers) fought their butt off, and they weren’t go­ing to go away.

“It’s go­ing to be hard to go through this district with­out a loss. We ob­vi­ously opened against a tough one, but there will be more . ... It’s over, and we have to move on.”

RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Cedar Ridge quar­ter­back Jalen Brown fights for yardage in the first half against Van­de­grift’s Jax Mc­Cauley on Fri­day night at Van­de­grift High School sta­dium.

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