What happened to South on Friday night in a 16-0 loss to Hays, ending the Titans’ four-game win streak to start the season, bordered on the cruel and unusual.
Start with the five turnovers.
Two came after getting the ball to the Hays’ 1-yard line and another from the Hays’ 7 – and even another on an intercepted pass at the Hays’ 20.
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Then there was the fifth – off a line-drive punt by Hays punter Kohlton Meyers that went into the back of a South player headed down for punt coverage. And the end of the first half, when South quarterback Allen Bishop tried to spike the ball from the Hays’ 7 – out of the shotgun – and was called for intentional grounding to end the half.
The final insult? South coach Kevin Steiner was ejected with just under two minutes to play and will have to sit out South’s game at undefeated Northwest on Thursday.
“You just can’t make that many mistakes and expect to win,” South defensive coordinator Bob Ray said. “You can’t turn the ball over, you can’t give up a big play ... we haven’t obviously lived up to all the expectations we’ve had, but we’ve got to keep going on the path we’ve been going on.”
Steiner was not available for comment after the game. His ejection came after a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second half on South’s sideline.
The mistakes didn’t come out of thin air, either, with both defenses on the attack the entire game. South gave up just 167 yards of total offense to go with nine tackles for loss. Hays was equally as stout, forcing the four turnovers and giving up 300 yards of offense, with 260 coming from Bishop.
“South is a totally changed team, a totally changed program,” said Hays defensive lineman/tight end Shane Berens. “We forced them into those mistakes at key points of the game, and I’m proud of us for winning a close game against a changed team.”
Berens scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Maddux Winter to give Hays a 6-0 lead in the second quarter that was set up by an interception and 68-yard return by Meyers. Hays took a 13-0 lead into halftime on a 1-yard run by Meyers.
“Just too many mistakes, and that’s on me,” Bishop said. “We’ve just got to flush this one and move on. I’ll take the blame for this loss.”
Bishop threw an interception and then fumbled on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter that went to the Hays’ 1.
Hays added to its lead on a 22-yard field goal from Logan Clark with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s such a mental game,” South linebacker Torion Neloms said. “You keep trying to fight back, you know, and then it’s another mistake and another mistake and you can’t catch up.”
H—Berens 7 pass from Winter (Clark kick)
H—Meyers 1 run (kick blocked)
H—Clark 22 FG 16-0
Rushing—Hays, Brown 12-16, Blackmon 7-15, Meyers 11-4, Dryden 7-79, Winter 4-16. South, Bishop 14-144, Eden 1-4, Wells 4-4, Hunt 5-28, Hudspeth 3-4.
Passing—Hays, Meyers 0-6-0-1, Winter 1-1-7-0. South, Bishop 8-22-116-3.
Receiving—Hays, Berens 1-7. South, Taylor 3-81, Hunt 1-(-2), Harper 3-42, Bell 3-28.