Chaps down Dripping Springs with comeback victory

Second-half efforts lift Chaps to 27-14 win at home Friday
Mia Fillpot
Running back senior Jack Kayser runs through the secondary in Westlake’s 27-14 win over Dripping Springs Oct. 13.

With just over seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Westlake special teams unit trotted onto the field. In need of a score to remain unbeaten, the Chaps prepared to receive the ball.

Running back senior Jack Kayser waited at his own thirty yard line for the punt, but he didn’t need to touch the ball for the Chaps to get their game-sealing score.

Defensive back senior Judson Crockett led a swarm of Westlake jerseys into the backfield and stuffed punter junior Owen Burgess. The ball popped into the air and fell into the arms of wide receiver senior Heath McRee, who took it 40 yards to the end zone. The Chaps led by 13. 

“We always stress that, every week, we want to be a lethal weapon on special teams,” Crockett said. “During halftime, that was what we needed. We needed another one. Everyone was feeling the same way: We needed to go out there and do something.”

The Chaps (7-0, 5-0 District 26-6A) blocked two punts and provided a second-half shutout of Dripping Springs (5-2, 4-1 26-6A), en route to a 27-14 win at Chaparral Stadium on Friday. Westlake clicked on all three phases of the game in the second half. They forced five tackles for loss and found the endzone three times to go along with their two punt blocks. The Chaps’ second-half efficiency helped erase their greatest deficit of the season. 

As Westlake continues to roll through their district schedule, they prepare to take on Austin High next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at House Park. 

The Chaps’ first-half struggles began on the third play of the game. Running back junior Jack Tyndall accelerated through the Westlake defense for a 71-yard touchdown run just under two minutes into the game. 

“It was really just one play,” linebacker junior Elliott Schaper said. “We didn’t see it in film, so it kind of shocked us, but we knew that we could stop the run, and we knew we were the better team all along.” 

While they faced an early challenge, the Chaps dug themselves out of it. Toward the end of the first quarter, the Westlake special teams unit provided their first of two punt blocks on the night, giving the offense the ball inside the 20-yard line. 

Wide receiver junior Brody Wilhelm blocks a Dripping Springs defender in the Chaps’ win Friday (Mia Fillpot)

The Chaps’ first ten offensive plays of the night were runs, and their game plan inside the red zone was no different. A four-yard touchdown run by quarterback sophomore Rees Wise highlighted the ensuing drive, tying the game at seven apiece. 

“Our entire week was practicing for the run,” Wise said. “We were counting on it to work, and we wanted to establish the run game to make sure we could have the opportunity to pass.” 

Though the Chaps found the end zone at the end of the first quarter, Dripping Springs would take the lead again soon after. The Tigers converted a pair of long third downs and capped an efficient drive with a 42-yard touchdown pass from quarterback junior Maddox Maher to wide receiver senior Kyle Koch. Dripping Springs carried a 14-7 lead into halftime. 

“We just realized we had to play our own ball,” Crockett said. “We know that we made plenty of mistakes. It was just up to us to fix our mistakes and just do what we do.”

At the start of the second half, the Chaps did just that. Wise connected with wide receiver junior Brody Wilhelm for 44 yards and found the end zone from nine yards out soon after. Wise’s second rushing touchdown of the game reestablished the tie with ten minutes to play in the third quarter. 

Both teams failed to pull away as the quarter wound down. The Westlake defense made a crucial stop on fourth-and-five deep in their own territory. Schaper’s open-field tackle denied the Tigers any points in the final minutes of the third quarter. Heading into the fourth, the two teams remained deadlocked at 14. 

Just when the Chaps were being challenged most, they began to find their footing. Westlake pieced together a quick scoring drive, as Wise found the end zone for the third time of the night, this time from seven yards out. The Chaps took their first lead of the night, 21-14.  

“In the fourth quarter, we decided to play the way we should’ve been playing all along,” Wise said. “We locked in.”

With the momentum on their side and the score in their favor, the Chaps began to operate in familiar territory. Crockett’s second blocked punt and McRee’s return iced the Chaps’ seventh consecutive win and their first come-from-behind win of the season. 

“We knew what was going on, and our coaches put us in the right place,” Schaper said. “We were just there to make plays, and that’s what we did.”

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