There has been much written about the Viper defense and rightfully so. But on Friday night at Monroe Stadium, the Vipers offense was the story of the night. The Vipers entered Friday night’s tilt against the Round Rock Dragons riding an 11 game District 13 winning streak along with a 15 game regular season winning streak. The Vipers mettle would be tested by a 4-0 Dragon team that came into the game averaging over 50 points a game.
The Dragons took possession to start the game and came out breathing fire. Behind a strong running game, the Dragons marched 75 yards in 14 plays capped by a 1 yard TD run by RB Israel Morgan. On the PAT, LB Lax McCauley burst through the Dragon O Line and blocked the kick. With 7:43 to play in Q1, the Dragons led 6-0. As we’ve seen many times this year, the Vipers are a mentally tough team and they wouldn’t be down for long. On their first drive of the game, the Vipers drove 74 yards in 7 plays capped by a 19 yard TD pass from Dru Dawson to a wide open TE Brady Middleton down the middle of the field. After a K Charlie Fournier PAT, the Vipers took their first lead of the night, 7-6. In uncharacteristic fashion, the Viper offense scored in less than two minutes. We learned a few things on the Viper opening drive – 1) their offense can be explosive and 2) the middle of the field is wide open.
On the Dragons second drive, the Viper D stiffened and extinguished the fire. They forced a three and out highlighted by a key Kaleb Lewis tackle on a 3rd and 13 that stopped the Dragon QB Seth Ford just shy of the first down marker. The Vipers started their second drive on the 17 yard line. The Viper offense showed their fangs on their way to a 9 play, 83 yard drive culminating in a 31 yard dart from Dru Dawson to WR Trey Mongauzy who made a highlight reel one-handed catch in the end zone as the defender was draped all over him. With 1:37 remaining in the first quarter, the Vipers now led the Dragons 14-6. The Dragons finished the first quarter and started the second quarter on a 10 play drive which started on their 17 yard line. On 3 and 6 from the Viper 19 yard line, Dragon QB Seth Ford errantly pitched the ball to RB Morgan. The fumble was quickly surrounded by DE Matthew Graham and Joker JJ Parker. After a brief scrum, Sophomore Safety Reece Beauchamp came up with the huge fumble recovery. The explosive Viper offense struck again with a 5 play 65 yard drive culminating with a RB Bowen Lewis 47 yard swing pass from Dru Dawson. On the play, Lewis was sprung by a nice block by WR Blake Youngblood and a nifty juke by Lewis to make the last defender miss. After the Fournier PAT it was now the Vipers 21 and the Dragons 6 with 8:15 left in the 1st half. In 6 quick plays, the Dragons drove 75 yards capped off with a 23 yard TD run by QB Ford bringing the score to 21-13. The Vipers last drive of the half started at the 30 yard line. While the Vipers put together a nice drive of 40 yards, the drive was ultimately doomed by 4 Viper penalties and the Dragons took over on downs. The Dragons ran out the clock to end the first half. Vipers 21 and Dragons 13.
The Vipers took possession to start the 2nd half. On the 4th play of the drive, Dawson was intercepted when Dragon CB Ty Dillon jumped the WR’s route. The interception was returned to the Viper 41 yard line. 5 plays later, RB Morgan pounded the ball in from 2 yards out. After a missed two point conversion, it was now Vandegrift 21 and Round Rock 19 with 8:58 left in the 3rd quarter. The ensuing drive was once again hampered by 3 penalties. The Vipers drove down to the Dragon 11 but had to settle for a Fournier 22 yard FG to increase the Viper lead to 24-19 with 3:34 left in the 3rd quarter. The Dragons simply wouldn’t back down. In just 6 plays, the Dragons drove 69 yards capped with an 18 yard TD pass from QB Ford to WR Collin Sullivan giving the Dragons a 25-24 lead with 1:01 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Dragons attempted a two point conversion with a pass from WR/RB Jordan Smart to Collin Sullivan. Safety Tyler Mongauzy blanketed Sullivan on the pass and it fell incomplete out of bounds.
Vandegrift started the 4th quarter with the ball and their most critical drive so far this season. Their undefeated district winning streak was now in jeopardy. Their drive began on the 30 yard line. On 2nd and 5, Taylor Dummar lined up in the slot on the right hash. He sprinted ahead ten yards faked inside, froze his defender, and then cut his route inside and down the middle of the field on a post route. QB Dawson launched a pass that seemed to hang in the air for eternity. As the crowd fell silent, Dummar dove fully extended to haul in the Dawson bomb and the crowd erupted. 1st down Vipers on the Dragon 15 yard line. Three plays later, Dawson scrambled to his left to buy time to find an open receiver. To the rescue came Brady Middleton. Middleton broke off his post route and floated back across the end zone to get Dawson’s attention. Dawson threw to Middleton right on target for a 9 yard TD. 31-25 Vipers. The Vipers decided to go for two to expand their lead to 7 points. WR Beau Dawson went in motion from the right slot to right end. As the ball was snapped, Beau Dawson snuck across the line of scrimmage right behind the Dragon defensive line. He continued his route toward the pylon at the goal line. Beau Dawson was wide open and his brother Dru delivered a perfect pass to complete the 2 point conversion and to give the Vipers a 32-25 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. The Viper D tightened up for the rest of the game and forced a three and out and a turnover on downs. What a game, what a victory!
It was a coming out party of sorts for TE Brady Middleton. While Middleton has been a major contributor for the Vipers over the past two seasons, he has rarely had an impact in the passing game. Friday was a game of firsts for Brady – his first varsity reception and his first TD’s. Middleton caught 3 passes for 33 yards and 2 TD’s. Kudos to the Vipers DB’s led by CB’s Ryan Arnold and Logan Arnold, JJ Parker, Tyler Mongauzy, Kaleb Lewis, Wyatt Breckenridge and Reece Beauchamp. Round Rock’s high powered offense included WR and Purdue commit, Collin Sullivan. Coming into the game, Sullivan had 36 catches for 613 yards and 8 TD’s. The Arnolds and the rest of the DBs limited Sullivan to just 1 catch for 18 yards and a TD. Dru Dawson had an incredible night completing 21 of 24 passes for 298 yards and 4 TD’s. Bowen Lewis again led the rushing attack with 24 carries for 152 yards. Dru Dawson had 7 rushes for 70 yards. Trey Mongauzy led the receiving corps with 11 receptions for 134 yards and a TD. JJ Parker led the defense with 13 tackles followed by Rover Kaleb Lewis with 11, LB Zach Gillcrist with 10, LB Jax McCauley with 8, DE Greyson Ratcliff and Safety Wyatt Breckenridge with 7. DT Joseph Clark and DE Ratcliff each had a QB sack. Shout out to the O Line of Harry Witt, James Collyer, Ethan Fiske, Landon Thomason, Jack Gullett and Matthew Lee for opening up lanes in the run game and providing time for Dawson to pick apart the Dragon defense through the air. Once again, due to injury, the O Line had to play musical chairs with Matthew Lee and Brady Wootton out with injury. Jack Gullett has done a great job stepping in. In the 2nd half, Thomason had to leave the game with an injury and Lee jumped back into the trenches earlier than expected. The Vipers brothers have each other’s backs and that is what may be the secret ingredient to a long playoff run. Go Vipers! #TWO19
By Morgan Radocha