Vista Ridge Makes History
Updated: December 5, 2015
photo: Steve Thomas
Vista Ridge advances to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
For the second time this year, the Cedar Park Vista Ridge Rangers squared off against their district foe, the Leander Vandegrift Vipers. This time, however, the stakes were much higher with a berth in the 5A Division 1 Semifinals on the line. For the Vipers, the game also offered a chance to go to the 5A Division 1 Semifinals for the second year in a row.
When the two teams met back in October, both offenses were on full display as Vandegrift overcame a 42-14 second-quarter deficit to beat Vista Ridge 63-55. This game at Kelly Reeves Stadium in Round Rock was a much lower-scoring affair. On the opening drive, Vista Ridge drove the ball all the way to the Vandegrift 22-yard line before junior defensive lineman Sam Brod recovered a fumble by Vista Ridge senior quarterback Matt Snow. The Viper offense was unable to take advantage of the turnover going three-and-out.
On their next drive, the Vipers drove the ball 61 yards culminating in a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Travis Brannan to take a 7-0 lead.
Following the touchdown, Vandegrift senior defense back Cody Walther intercepted Snow’s pass and returned it to the Vista Ridge 40-yard line. One play later, junior quarterback Alex Brannan connected with senior tight end Bailey Middleton for a 40-yard touchdown pass to give the Vipers a 14-0 lead.
On Vista Ridge's next drive, Snow capped off a 15-play 90-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to cut the Vandegrift lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter. It appeared that Rangers would tie things up with their next possession when they drove the ball all the way to the Vandegrift four-yard line. However, the Vandegrift defense used big plays including two sacks to force Vista Ridge to settle for a 28-yard field goal by senior kicker Diogo Chiaramonte to make the score 14-10.
Vandegrift senior kicker Jackson Harris kicked a 20-yard field goal just before halftime to give the Vipers a 17-10 lead going into the break.
To open the second half, the Vipers put together a 19-play 68-yard drive but turned the ball over on downs as Travis Brannan was stopped short of the first-down marker on fourth and one. Following the turnover, Vista Ridge also went four-and-out as the Vandegrift defense stopped Snow one yard short of the first-down marker on fourth and three.
The Rangers defense responded when Vista Ridge senior defensive back Tyler Harris intercepted a pass from Fernandes to set the Rangers’ offense up at their own 30-yard line. Four plays later, Snow connected with sophomore wide receiver Jamil Pittman on a 26-yard touchdown pass to tie the game a 17-17 early in the fourth quarter.
After both teams traded three-and-outs, the Vista Ridge defense again stifled the Vandegrift offense forcing the Vipers to go four-and-out. Following the stop, Snow found Pittman again five plays later for a 28-yard touchdown pass to give the Rangers 24-17 lead.
The Vipers managed to drive Vista Ridge 39-yard line but, senior linebacker RJ Phillips came up with an interception to seal the game for Vista Ridge.
For Vandegrift, this games marks the only time this season that they have been held scoreless in the second half.
With the win, Vista Ridge moves to 13-2 overall and advances to the UIL Class 5A Division 1 Semifinals. It is the first time the team has reached the state semifinals in the school’s twelve-year history. Up next, the Rangers will face the fifth-ranked undefeated Richmond George Ranch Longhorns (14-0 overall) The Longhorns defeated last year’s 5A Division 1 runner-up Temple 59-46. The game will be next Friday at NRG Stadium in Houston.
#18 ranked Vandegrift, meanwhile, finishes the season at 11-3 overall and 5-2 in district.
by Steve Thomas