ROBINSON - The sweet taste of victory made the bitter cold more bearable for the Hico Tigers, who defeated the Goldthwaite Eagles 14-7 in a 1A Division I quarterfinal at Rocket Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The game was a rematch between District 5-A rivals and the Tigers refused to be on the losing end for a second time this year. They claimed the Region II championship with the win, after Goldthwaite won the district title on the shoulders of its 28-21 victory on Oct. 11.
The Eagles scored their only points of the contest on a surprise 27-yard pass in the first quarter and looked to be in command after converting on two fourth downs.
Hico's first points came in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Blake Hyles. Both Hico touchdowns were scored by a Hyles, with Duane adding the game winner in the fourth quarter.
Hico rushed for 226 yards on 50 carries. Blake Hyles led the way with 112 yards.
Hico quarterback Hunter Wood was 5-6 passing for 67 yards, including a key fourth-down conversion pass on what proved to be the game-winning drive. Wood also added 56 yards on the ground.
"I can't express how excited I am. There isn't a group who deserves it more than these guys," said Hico head coach Keith Wood. "They've been working all year long for this."
The game marked the end of an 11-year absence from the state quarterfinals for Hico, and the win sealed its deepest playoff push in school history.
It was the first real test the Tigers have faced in the postseason. In four playoff wins, Hico has outscored opponents 177-60.
The Tigers will face reigning Class A Division I champ Stamford or New Deal in the semifinals. Their quarterfinal has been postponed until Monday afternoon.