If the Hutto Hippos looked at Rouse’s 1-8 record and decided the outcome of their upcoming game was a foregone conclusion, the events of the first half Friday at Hutto Memorial Stadium notified them otherwise.
Hutto started strong, capping a sturdy opening drive with a 23-yard Mekhi Kimble touchdown run. The Hippos scored again on their drive with a 24-yard connection between Grayson Doggett and recent Texas Longhorns commit Dajon Harrison to jump out to a 13-0 lead.
From there, Hutto sputtered offensively and allowed the Raiders to hang around to the tune of a 13-6 halftime tally.
The Hippos weren’t infallible in the second half, but luckily for them, running back Mekhi Kimble was. After his first-quarter score, Kimble came out like a man possessed in the second half, adding three more touchdowns to pace the Hippos to a 34-15 win in a sloppy affair that featuring ten total turnovers.
Each team threw three interceptions, including a sequence in the second quarter that saw interceptions on consecutive plays. After Rouse threw one to set Hutto up with good field position, the Hippos gave it right back. That inability by Hutto (8-1, 5-1 District 11-5A DI) in the first half to take advantage of its opportunities against an inferior opponent was perhaps indicative of the Hippos looking ahead on their schedule to a more meaningful game. Hutto will host Seguin next Thursday or Friday in the first round of the playoffs.
A loss to Rouse (1-9, 1-5) wouldn’t have changed that for the Hippos, and at times throughout the night, they played as though they were aware of that fact. Fortunately, the athleticism of their playmakers carried the day, as Harrison corralled six passes for 91 yards before leaving the game after an awkward landing on his final catch. But it wasn't the Texas commit Harrison making the most noise Friday, with Kimble outpacing the former in touchdowns by a margin of four to one.
Kimble came out of the halftime locker room with a purpose, bulldozing a would-be tackler to turn a screen pass into a 52-yard touchdown. His final tally of the night was perhaps his most impressive; on a kickoff return, Kimble fielded a bouncing ball around the 23-yard line only after it had made contact with an up-man. That didn't deter Kimble, as he weaved his way for a house call to put the game in-hand in the third.