The Brownwood Lions took care of business in their regular season finale, and now a postseason rematch against the Glen Rose Tigers awaits at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Stephenville in the bi-district round of the Class 3A Division II playoffs.
The Lions, who are headed to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, locked up second place outright in the final District 8-3A standings with a 41-13 victory over the Llano Yellow Jackets on Senior Night Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Leading by just eight points late in the first half, the Lions (6-4, 4-1) scored in the final minute of the second quarter and on their first drive of the second half to establish a 22-point advantage en route to the 28-point victory over Llano (3-7, 1-4).
“We still have to improve, we can’t stay at the status quo,” said Lions head coach Bob Shipley, who has guided Brownwood to at least the third round of the playoffs in each of his three previous seasons. “Obviously we made some mistakes and we have to get a lot better in a lot of areas, but I’m happy with the way the guys are working and their attitudes. All you can ask for as a coach is that kids work hard and have great attitudes.”
Defensively, the Lions limited Llano to 139 yards of total offense — a number slightly skewed due to 32 yards lost on a poor snap on a punt that resulted in a safety and Brownwood’s final points of the game. The Yellow Jackets finished with just 59 yards rushing on 30 carries and completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards.
“We kind of settled down defensively after the first quarter,” said Shipley, whose team missed a few tackles in the initial 12 minutes that allowed Llano to draw even at 7-all with seven seconds left in the opening stanza. “After that, we did a good job of containing them, but we still need to do a better job tackling. Overall, though, I thought the defense played pretty well.”
Offensively, the Lions racked up 386 yards with 215 coming on the ground behind the front five of Michael Livingston, Kevin Hobbs, Cody Skains, Jaylen Bocknite and Caleb Wilbourn.
Braxton Kilgo rushed for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Dylan Martin chipped in 66 yards and his first offensive score of the year. Kilgo also finished with a team-high 84 yards receiving on two receptions as quarterback Chris Keesee connected on 9 of 11 attempts for 159 yards with a pair of scoring strikes.
“It was really fun to show people that I can actually run,” Kilgo said. “I had a lot of good blocks from the linemen and we were all pumped up and ready to go out and win the game for our seniors.”
Added Shipley, “I was proud of the way we drove the ball all night, especially into the wind.”
Kilgo’s 71-yard catch and run for a touchdown with 34 seconds left before halftime proved to be the turning point in the contest.
Clinging to a 15-7 lead after turning the ball over near midfield late in the second period, the Lions were able to force a Llano three-and-out, but were pinned at their own 19 following a punt and a penalty on the return.
Kilgo began the drive with a 10-yard carry then, on the next snap, hauled in a screen pass from Keesee and raced down the sideline, shedding a pair of Llano defenders near midfield for the 71-yard score that pushed the Lions’ halftime edge to 22-7.
“That was really big,” Shipley said. “I was upset after the interception, but to hold them and then get that screen for a touchdown was a huge momentum builder going into the second half.”
Brownwood received the ball to begin the second half after a failed onside kick attempt and journeyed 52 yards in seven plays as Martin broke free for a 28-yard touchdown scamper with 8:33 left in the third period, increasing the Lions’ advantage to 29-7.
Llano answered with an 11-play, 74-yard scoring drive that ended with a 7-yard scoring toss from Layton Rabb to Matt Center, but the Yellow Jackets never threatened again.
The Lions responded with a 12-play, 86-yard scoring trek — which featured 11 running plays and 5:11 chewed off the clock before Kilgo scored on a 4-yard carry to extend the cushion to 36-13 with 11:25 remaining.
Matt McCrane later booted a 35-yard field goal for the Lions with 6:43 left, which was the culmination of an eight-play, 16-yard drive that began at the Llano 34.
The Yellow Jackets’ ensuing possession ended in three plays, then the snap on the punt sailed over the kicker’s head and into the end zone. The punter eventually retrieved the ball but was downed in the end zone for a safety.
Brownwood also scored on its first drive of the opening half as the Lions moved 40 yards in seven plays as Keesee hooked up with Cooper Howey on a 9-yard scoring strike.
Llano fired back with a 14-play, 70-yard, seven-minute drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Carter Tatsch.
But the Lions took the lead for good, 15-7, with 2:51 left in the first half as Kilgo scored his first touchdown on a 6-yard carry and Eddie Duque converted the two-point try. The highlight of the five-play, 61-yard drive was a 34-yard reception by Jared Crouch, which moved the ball to the Llano 27.
Next for the Lions is 9-1 Glen Rose and the Tigers will no doubt be seeking revenge for last year’s season-ending 28-14 loss to Brownwood in the second round of the playoffs.
“Glen Rose is a very good football team, but I haven’t seen them on film yet,” Shipley said.” I know they throw the ball around a lot and have a great quarterback and a lot of guys back from last year’s team. They’re 9-1 so it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
Added Kilgo, “I think we’re ready. Everybody’s been really enthusiastic at practice, practices have been rolling and we’re not making any mistakes or getting yelled at half as much. We’re doing good, having fun and ready to go.”
LIONS 41, LLANO 13
Llano 7 0 6 0 - 13
Brownwood 7 15 7 12 - 41
B: Cooper Howey 9 pass from Chris Keesee (Matt McCrane kick), 7:06, 1st
L: Carter Tatsch 2 run (22 kick), 0:07, 1st
B: Braxton Kilgo 6 run (Eddie Duque run), 2:51, 2nd
B: Kilgo 71 pass from Keesee (McCrane kick), 0:34, 2nd
B: Dylan Martin 28 run (McCrane kick), 8:33, 3rd
L: Matt Center 7 pass from Layton Rabb (pass failed), 4:46, 3rd
B: Kilgo 4 run (McCrane kick), 11:25, 4th
B: McCrane 35 FG, 6:43, 4th
B: Safety (ball snapped over punter’s head, tackled in end zone), 5:17, 4th
First Downs 13 21
Total Offense 139 386
Rushes-Yards 30-59 40-215
Passing Yards 80 171
C-A-I 10-18-0 10-13-1
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalties 3-35 7-54
Punts 3-34.3 1-36.0
L: Rhett Brooks 13-55, Carter Tatsch 13-19, Layton Rabb 3-17, Team 1-(-32).
B: Braxton Kilgo 19-118, Dylan Martin 7-66, Chris Keesee 6-17, Dillon Cox, 2-12, Eddie Duque 4-6, Daylon Johnson 1-(-1), Andre Allen 1-(-3).
L: Layton Rabb 10-18-0-80.
B: Chris Keesee 9-11-0-159, Eddie Duque 1-2-1-12.
L: Matt Center 3-33, Issac Hutto 3-19, Rhett Brooks 1-9, Sawyer Stiles 1-9, David Durham 1-4.
B: Braxton Kilgo 2-84, Jared Crouch 2-34, Cooper Howey 2-20, Matthew Gomez 2-13, Dylan Martin 1-13, Matt McCrane 1-7.