YOAKUM – La Vega has suffered injuries throughout the out-of-district schedule, especially along the front lines, which has kept him from looking like his usual form.
By Friday night, the pirates were back to their old ways.
Nikzavyer Rice rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns, Bryson Roland added 93 yards and two rushing scores and the Pirates scored 28 unanswered points to edge Yoakum 42-14 at Bulldog Stadium in the final game of their out-of-district schedule.
The Pirates’ confidence in Rice has grown over the past few weeks, and it showed in dramatic fashion early in the fourth quarter.
On the fourth-and-3 of his own 44, La Vega handed the ball to Rice in the middle. He ran a man around the first down marker and went for the runs on a 56-yard touchdown that made it a 42-14 lead at La Vega.
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“Nik is a good ball carrier. He happens to be playing behind a big running back (Roland),” La Vega coach Don Hyde said. “Sometimes it happens, but we have no problem putting him in the game and letting him carry the ball. He’s a good ball carrier, but our five guys up front and our tight end did great work, and every time these guys win, you have a chance to succeed.
La Vega never trailed, even though it was a 14-14 game late in the second quarter. Roland, who played sparingly other than the two drives in the second quarter he scored on, broke the tie with a 22-yard TD sprint with 1:29 left before halftime.
Hyde said Roland suffered from a groin injury and the Pirates wanted to limit his touches, but he was effective on his 13 runs.
La Vega’s Mecca Walker intercepted a pass from Yoakum to thwart his last chance to score before halftime, and it was all La Vega in the second half.
The Pirates got a 19-yard touchdown from Rice on their first drive out of halftime, then added another on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Robert Prescott to Brandon Allen before Rice’s fourth down don’t put the game out of reach.
“We made some adjustments defensively (at half-time). They did things that they didn’t show on film, so we changed some covers and some adjustments,” Hyde said. “I think the kids did a great job adjusting defensively, and I think offensively we did a great job of blocking up front.”
Prescott threw for 144 yards and the score to Allen, who also added a 1-yard touchdown on the Pirates’ first drive of the game.
In total, La Vega rushed for 321 yards while limiting Yoakum to 253 total rushing yards.
Yoakum almost jumped ahead on the second play from the scrimmage, when Ty Gordon hit Kadarius Price in stride for what looked like a sure touchdown. La Vega cornerback Nate Washington didn’t give up play and took the ball away from Price just before he reached the goal line, and he came out from behind the penalty area. goals for a touchdown.
From there, the La Vega offense got to work and held the ball for more than half of the quarter. The Pirates went 80 yards in 15 plays and fell 6:01 behind before Allen capped the drive with the score.
Prescott and Stephon Nickerson made two big connections in third to keep the game alive. The first was an 8-yard connect on the third-and-7 of the La Vega 23, and the second push was a 25-yard rush on the third-and-17 of the Yoakum 31 that kicked the Pirates out.
Yoakum responded quickly with a 27-yard touchdown from Jayden Jones, and the teams were tied at seven after the first quarter.
Roland put La Vega ahead 14-7 with a 4-yard TD run but Yoakum responded with Jones fumbled about the La Vega 7 but Gordon picked it up and dove into the end zone with 2:52 to play before half-time. Roland’s second touchdown came less than a minute and a half later, and the Pirates never looked back.
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