Dripping Springs (8-2, 6-1) and Austin Crockett (4-6, 3-4) had something to play for in their 12-5A Division I finale on Thursday night. The Tigers needed a win to stay in the district title hunt, while the Cougars needed a win to stay in the playoff hunt.
A victory was important to both because the teams weren't in control of their destinies. That was because Dripping Springs suffered an overtime loss against now-district leader Seguin (7-2, 6-0) on October 26th, and Crockett fell to Austin McCallum (5-4, 3-3) on November 1st.
Dripping Springs was the favorite coming in, and ultimately inched closer to its goal. Its fast start paved the way to a 49-7 win.
"We're going to the playoffs, and we can't have any hiccups before playoffs," VYPE Player of the Game Tanner Prewit said after Dripping Springs' dominant performance. "So, we came here knowing we had to get ready for playoffs."
The Tigers forced a punt on Crockett's opening drive, and quickly drove down the field. Jake Cox's 11-yard run brought the ball to the Cougar one-yard line, and Tanner Prewit punched in his first of five first half scores on the following play.
The defense and special teams also made key plays early. Hunter Northrup's interception ended Crockett's second drive, and the following punt went out at the Cougar four-yard line.
Even with that, Crockett bounced back in the early moments of the second quarter. Andrew Jones got the Cougars on the board with a 49-yard scamper.
Dripping Springs then took control with five straight scoring drives, starting with Prewit's handoff to Parker Alford. Along with this, the Tigers' defense forced four more Crockett punts before halftime, as well as a second interception.
Then, Prewit's passing game got going. His first touchdown pass went to Enzo Arnold...
...and his second went to Cameron O’Banan.
Prewit also added his second rushing score before the end of the half...
and found O’Banan on a second scoring connection.
The second half featured a defensive battle, so the offenses were kept in check. The best example of that came in the opening minute of the fourth. After a scoreless third, Dripping Springs moved to the Crockett one-yard line, but the ball was punched out and recovered by the Cougar defense at the 12.
Dripping Springs had another scoring opportunity at the 4:42 mark, but Coleman Chapman couldn't fit a 41-yard field goal between the goal posts.
Finally, on their third attempt, the Tigers punched their second half scoring ticket at the 1:10 mark. They handed it to senior Jackson Simon, who scored on the final play of the game. Extra lightning and stronger rain sent the teams to the locker room, and resulted in a running clock for the final 70 seconds.
"I think it was important," Dripping Springs' head coach Galen Zimmerman said of the final score. "The kid that scored was a senior, and one of those kids who doesn't get a ton of opportunities. So, when he does, we're excited to see him finish."
Dripping Springs will now wait for Friday's Seguin/Austin LBJ (7-2, 5-1) result. If Seguin wins, the Matadors will take the outright district championship. But, a LBJ win forces a three-way tie at the top. Obviously, tiebreakers will come into play if the second scenario occurs.
The final playoff participant from 12-5A Division I will be McCallum, who clinched a berth with Crockett's loss. The Knights are in the postseason for the third straight year.