STEPHENVILLE — A year ago, the Brownwood Lions ended the Glen Rose Tigers’ season in the second round of the playoffs. Friday night, the roles were reversed in the Division II-3A Region I bi-district round as the Lions’ year came to a conclusion, 14-10.
Brownwood (6-5) forced three turnovers and limited Glen Rose (10-1) to 31 fewer points than the Tigers averaged per game during the regular season, but the Lions offense struggled throughout the game and was unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities to generate points.
“It was an incredible effort by our defense against a team that averages 45 points a game, and we hold them to 14,” said Lions head coach Bob Shipley, who for the first time in his four-year tenure did not have a team reach at least the third round of the playoffs. “The blame certainly rests with our offense and our inability to get points out of great field position. You have to give Glen Rose credit. They have a great defense and our offense just wasn’t able to take advantage of situations, and that was the difference in the game.”
Brownwood managed just 131 yards of total offense, surrendered six sacks and manufactured only 30 yards and one first down over the final two quarters. Glen Rose produced 231 yards, also well below average, but generated 160 yards during the second half.
The Lions led 10-7 at halftime thanks to a 3-yard touchdown pass from Chris Keesee to Mack Monsen with 23 seconds left in the first half and a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter by Matt McCrane. But the lead could have been much larger.
Glen Rose quarterback Colten Bretton, who had thrown only four interceptions during the regular season, was picked off three times in the first half — all in Tiger territory.
Trailing 7-0 and with Glen Rose pinned inside its own 5, Cooper Howey intercepted a Bretton offering and juked his way to the Tiger 13 on the return. The Lions lost 2 yards in three plays, however, and settled for a McCrane field goal and their first points with 1:13 left in the opening period.
The ensuing drive for Glen Rose also ended in a turnover as Bryce Vickers picked off Bretton’s attempted screen pass at Tiger 46 and returned the ball to the 37. Brownwood went three-and-out, losing 1 yard in that span, and punted the ball back to the Tigers.
Three plays later, Kaimon Ontiveros stepped in front of a Bretton pass and returned the interception to the Glen Rose 32. After losing 11 yards in that series of downs, the Lions again punted and pinned the Tigers at their own 3.
“That gave us a lot of momentum, but it was also very disappointing to only get three points out of three interceptions,” Shipley said. “We needed to take full advantage of the field position and we didn’t do it.”
Brownwood’s lone touchdown drive came without the benefit of a takeaway. After Glen Rose ended its string of three straight possessions with a turnover, the Tigers punted the ball away to the Lions, who returned the kick to the Glen Rose 35 with 3:06 left before halftime.
This particular drive seemed no different from the previous three for the Lions, who found themselves facing a fourth-and-6 at the Glen Rose 31 with just under a minute left before intermission. Instead of opting for another field goal from McCrane, who booted a school-record 52-yard in Stephenville last year, the Lions rolled the dice.
Keesee scrambled momentarily, then found Howey, whose 28-yard catch and run — the longest play from scrimmage for Brownwood — moved the ball to the Glen Rose 3. On the next play Keesee rolled to his right and found the tight end Monsen in the back of the end zone for his first reception of the season.
Leading 10-7 at intermission, the Lions came out and attempted an onside kick out of an untraditional formation to start the second half. Brownwood recovered, but was flagged for illegal procedure — one of 11 penalties on the night.
The Lions then elected a traditional kick, which was fair caught at the Glen Rose 30. The Tigers then marched 70 yards in eight plays to regain a 14-10 advantage at the 8:04 mark of the quarter.
Cody Burtscher, who rushed for 100 yards and caught three passes for 28 yards, reeled off a 26-yard carry on fourth-and-1 from the Tiger 39. Then, facing a third-and-20 at the Brownwood 45, Bretton connected with Justin Weatherley — who finished with a game-high eight receptions for 133 yards — on a 43-yard pass play that set up Bretton’s 2-yard dive one play later.
The Lions advanced to the Glen Rose 38 on the following possession before punting again, and Brownwood also reached the Tiger 41, but never threatened to reclaim the lead in the second half.
“I was hoping we could pick up a little bit of momentum in the second half, but we weren’t able to do that,” Shipley said.
After a 1-3 start, the Lions reeled off five victories in their last six games to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, and placed second in District 8-3A behind undefeated Gatesville, which knocked off Alvarado, 48-28, Friday night.
“I love these seniors, they’re such a great group of kids,” Shipley said. “They love each other, they created a family atmosphere with this team and I’ll miss them sorely. They came back from adversity time and time again this season and had a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs. I hurt for them more than anything because they played their last football game tonight.”
GLEN ROSE 14, LIONS 10
Brownwood 3 7 0 0 - 10
Glen Rose 7 0 7 0 - 14
G: Cody Burtscher 18 run (Martin De Los Santos kick), 6:26, 1st
B: Matt McCrane 32 FG, 1:13, 1st
B: Mack Monsen 3 pass from Chris Keesee (McCrane kick), 0:23, 2nd
G: Colten Bretton 2 run (De Los Santos), 8:04, 3rd
First Downs 7 12
Total Offense 131 231
Rushes-Yards 23-40 25-69
Passing Yards 91 162
C-A-I 13-16-0 13-21-3
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Punts 6-38.8 3-39.0
Penalties 11-74 7-32
B: Braxton Kilgo 13-37, Dylan Martin 2-4, Chris Keesee 8-(-1)
G: Cody Burtscher 19-100, Colten Bretton 5-(-31)
B: Chris Keesee 13-16-0-91
G: Colten Bretton 13-21-3-162
B: Cooper Howey 5-48, Matt McCrane 3-17, Kyle Steele 1-9, Braxton Kilgo 1-7, Jared Crouch 1-4, Dylan Martin 1-3, Mack Monsen 1-3
G: Justin Weatherley 8-133, Cody Burtscher 3-28