HICO - In a Cross Timbers match-up of 11-2A playoff hopefuls, the signal callers turned to show stealers as Hico beat Dublin by the final score of 41-19.
Westin Williams led Hico past rival DeWayne Keith and Dublin Friday night to lock up Hico's 10th playoff berth in Head Coach Wade Williams' 18 seasons at Hico.
Williams was dominant in every aspect of the game. He completed 12 of 22 passes for 171 yards and threw for three touchdowns and just one interception.
Sean Shipman was the "go-to-guy" for Williams. Shipman had three big catches for over 25 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-19 in the second quarter. He hauled in four passes for 103 yards. Andrew Wise also aided Williams by catching six passes for 51 yards.
Williams racked up most of his yards on the ground by keeping it 12 times and chalking up 191 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run to seal the deal for Hico in the third quarter.
Jordan Turner was a nice compliment to Williams on the ground with 101 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
"Our offensive line did a great job," said Coach Williams. "They made the blocks and all he (Westin) did was carry the biscuit."
Hico totaled 489 yards in the contest.
On the other side of the ball was DeWayne Keith. Coming into the game Keith was looking to surpass the 1,000-yard mark passing for the season. He accomplished this feat by completing 10 of 24 passes for 97 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Keith now has 1,065 yards on the season.
Keith has also been a solid runner for Dublin, entering the contest with 641 yards on the ground. He added 135 yards on 17 carries Friday.
However, the Hico defense was able to contain the rest of the Lions by only allowing only 79 yards to everyone not named Keith.
"The defense played well," said Coach Williams. "We've been giving up the big plays all year long and we shut those down, but Dublin played great. After watching film on the Keith kid, he was more impressive here. He has a lot of speed, and I didn't know he was as good of a defensive player as he is. We tried to put him in a bind because they had the injuries there, and all night he stopped us so we had to throw the ball instead of running it."
Injury-plagued Dublin tried to hit a few big plays but just couldn't haul in the deep passes, and the big plays they did get were forced to return due to penalties.
"We moved the ball offensively," said Dublin Head Coach Dwayne Ross. "We had a couple of big plays called back and dropped a few passes, and of course Westin (Williams) was just unconscious. He threw the ball really well and we had way too many missed tackles."
Hico is in the 2A State Playoffs and will travel to Grandview next week. If Hico upsets Grandview, then it will mean the Tigers are District 11-2A Co-Champions.
Dublin will host Itasca next week with hopes, for their first playoff berth in four years still alive.
"We got Itasca next week," said Coach Ross. "I think we'll have to beat Itasca by 10 to put us ahead of them."
Kickoffs for each game will be at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.
Nathan Bural is a member of the sports staff at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241.