In a duel between two junior quarterbacks leading high-powered offenses in District 13-6A, Vista Ridge quarterback Kyle Brown was a step above his counterpart.
The Rangers playcaller was 24-of-32 for 337 passing yards and five touchdowns, in addition to a rushing touchdown, to propel Vista Ridge to a 46-43 victory over Westwood at Dragon Stadium on Friday.
Vista Ridge outscored Westwood 20-0 in the third quarter after trailing 28-26 at halftime.
The Rangers, who went 1-9 last season, improve to 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in district play. Westwood drops to 2-2 and 1-1 in District 13-6A after the defeat.
"I'm proud of (Brown) and the way he grows each week. His IQ continues to grow each week and he did a good job down the stretch," Vista Ridge head coach Rodney Vincent said. "I'm proud of him for sticking to the plan and finding the open receivers."
"I have to give it all to my offensive line and my receivers for improvising," Brown said. "They were going up against a pretty physical defense and they all played well."
Warriors quarterback R.J. Martinez finished 26-of-42 for 313 yards and three passing touchdowns while adding 157 yards and a rushing score. The Westwood junior quarterback has amassed over 1,300 passing yards through four games this season.
"Our protection was not as good as it should have been tonight, and so R.J. had to do a lot out there," Westwood head coach Anthony Wood said. "He extends plays really well and can always make something happen but tonight we didn't help him enough."
Westwood's offense would set the tone for the evening with its first drive of the night, which ended in a Nate Anderson four-yard run after Martinez hit his stride on a 29-yard rushing gain. Vista Ridge would respond when Brown's out-stretched arm crossed the goal line on a one-yard leap.
The teams traded three touchdowns apiece before the first half ended with the only difference being a pair of missed Vista Ridge extra points.
As time ticked off in the first half, Westwood would score again, as Martinez found daylight for a 12-yard rushing score. But with just a second remaining on the game clock, Brown heaved a 45-yard hail mary touchdown pass to Jacob Bowerman.
"That was probably one of the luckiest things I've seen," Brown said. "Right when I threw it, I saw that we had numbers in the endzone. And luckily Jacob came down with it."
The two teams continued to trade touchdowns in the second half. Anderson rushed his second touchdown in minutes before Brown located senior wideout Adam Fogg for a 13-yard passing score.
The Rangers faked a punt early in the third quarter, which led to a touchdown that would give them the lead for good.
"Our kids learned a lot in the offseason about how to keep grinding, and when you get a play like that, it definitely helps with momentum," Vincent said. "I was really proud of how they were sticking to the game plan after that."
That score was one of a string of 30 consecutive points by Vista Ridge.
Westwood scored again when Martinez found Lyne for a nine-yard score and then jumped on an onside kick with just minutes left in the game.
"There is no quit in this team. I don't allow it and they don't allow it," Wood said. "Our team has a lot of passion and a lot of desire but we just came up short against a good football team tonight."
The Warriors cut it to one score with a late touchdown, but it was too little, too late.
"We knew it was gonna be a dogfight and we got some clutch plays, and our defense played well," Brown said. "It was a very exciting game to be a part of."
Vista Ridge continues its district schedule when the Rangers host Vandegrift (4-0, 2-0) at Gupton Stadium next Friday at 7 p.m., while Westwood returns to Dragon Stadium in an away matchup against Round Rock (3-0) on September 27.
‘We'll enjoy this one tonight but we will go back to watching the film and studying very soon," coach Vincent said. "I have a lot of respect for Vandegrift and we can't prepare enough for them."
Follow @HCNSports on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on all local and regional sports.