Vandegrift has gotten used to its spot at the top of District 13-6A standings the last two seasons. Friday night, the Vipers they proved they belonged on top.
In a battle of unbeaten teams, the Vipers scored 31 unanswered points and kept the high-flying Vista Ridge offense in front of them to beat the Rangers 31-12 at Gupton Stadium and win their 11th straight district game.
"We're not a super explosive offense, but we're an efficient offense, and that's a recipe for winning ballgames," Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said. "I didn't really buy into the hype. I knew everybody would kind of be excited on the first drive. And it's just football after that. Our guys played like that."
The Vipers are one of three undefeated teams in District 13-6A, joining Round Rock (which beat Westwood on Friday) and Stony Point (which downed Cedar Ridge for the first time on Friday).
Senior quarterback Dru Dawson finished 7-of-12 passing for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns and rushed seven times for 61 yards. Bowen Lewis rushed 23 times for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Vista Ridge quarterback Kyle Brown entered Friday averaging nearly 300 yards per game, and he got close on Friday, completing 30 of 42 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. Adam Fogg caught seven passes for 67 yards, and Kwade Hegtvedt had six receptions for 39 yards.
"Vista Ridge is a solid program, and they brought their best effort," Vandegrift senior linebacker Jax McCauley said. "But we locked in and dug down deep and finished them in this game."
Vandegrift's opening drive stalled deep in the Vista Ridge red zone, and the Vipers settled for a 24-yard field goal.
The Rangers marched down the field on the ensuing drive and appeared to score on a diving catch by Fogg, but it was ruled short and they couldn't punch it in from a yard out.
"I like us getting a little momentum going, the toughest part was letting them drive the field right after that," Vista Ridge head coach Rodney Vincent said.
Lewis sprinted right through the middle of the Rangers' defense on the next drive for a 49-yard touchdown run that capped off an eight-play drive. The Vipers took advantage of a bad Vista Ridge snap on a punt and punched in a 5-yard score early in the second quarter.
Dawson connected with Mongauzy for a 14-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to extend the lead to four possessions.
The duo connected again early in the second half to push the Vandegrift lead to 31-0 nothing.
But the Rangers didn't give up. Brown threw a 5-yard touchdown to Ethan Heffelfinger on the second drive of the second half, and Maximums Clark rushed in from 14 yards out with just under five minutes left in the game.
"We were playing our defense because we trust our defense. We stuck with what we were doing," Sanders said.
Vista Ridge faces Leander at Bible Stadium next week, while Vandegrift continues district play against another high-powered offense when it hosts Round Rock next Friday night at Monroe Stadium.
"We're taking a lot of new steps this year, and this was a new step for us," Vincent said. "The next step for us is seeing how they respond when you're down. This is the first time this group has been on this type of stage. I was proud of them, they were fighting in the second half."