Brownwood tallies five TDs, 458 yards while allowing just two first downs, 26 yards
BURNET — As first impressions go, the Brownwood Lions couldn't have envisioned one much better.
In the first of two preseason football scrimmages, the Lions mauled the Burnet Bulldogs — a 7-4 playoff team a year ago with three offensive and four defensive starters back — from start to finish Friday night, racking up five touchdowns and allowing none, while yielding just two first downs in the process.
“We kept asking ourselves how much team speed and quickness do we have, and I know we're going to play some teams that will match our speed, but I think that was the big difference in the scrimmage tonight — just the speed on our offensive and defensive units versus theirs,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield.
The dominant performance unquestionably had the Lions fired up at the end of the night, but Maxfield cautioned that it was only a scrimmage.
“We couldn't have asked for a better effort,” Maxfield said. “I felt like we dominated up front on both sides of the ball, more so probably on the defensive side, but our offensive line came off the ball pretty well. There's a lot of things to build on from tonight, but, once again, it's a scrimmage, it's controlled and there's still so much to work on and there's a long way to go.”
Over the course of 40 offensive snaps, the Lions first- and second-team offense generated 458 yards of total offense — 11.5 yards per play. Brownwood's five touchdowns alone accounted for 199 yards, with three coming from 45 yards out or farther. The Lions finished with 281 yards on the ground on 26 carries — an average of 10.8 yards per tote — and amassed 177 yards through the air on just eight completions — an average of 22.1 yards per catch.
Behind an offensive line nucleus of center Wyatt Jacobs, guards Blaize Infinger and Tyelor Chew and tackles Colby Coppic and Liam McCraw, five different Lions reached the end zone. Tommy Bowden scored first on a 10-yard option keeper at quarterback, then he tossed a 70-yard touchdown to A.J. McCarty. Dylan Hickey scored on a 4-yard dive, Cain Kittrell sprinted to the end zone from 69 yards out and Joseph Johnson added a 46-yard scoring jaunt.
“Any time you score that many times in the first scrimmage it's kind of a surprise,” Maxfield said. “What was a big plus for tonight was different guys touching the ball. It's easy to do that in a scrimmage, we just have to keep that same philosophy when we get into the season. The more people that touch the ball, the more people that can score, the harder we are to defend.”
Burnet also took 40 snaps and mustered a mere 26 yards — 23 passing and 3 rushing. The Bulldogs were also sacked four times. In the first series of 24 plays for the Bulldogs first- and second-team offense, the Lions yielded just 4 yards and did not give up a first down.
Sacks were recorded by Hunter Leonard, despite playing with a severely sprained wrist that requires a cast, and Infinger, among others. Patrick Nash, Grayson Swanzy, Braden Jetton and Tristin Revada also made jarring hits that prevented pass completions
“Burnet struggled getting back to the line of scrimmage not only running the ball but also with their quick passing game,” Maxfield said. “We were breaking on the ball really well and making plays all over the field. Our pursuit to the ball was great. That was a big thing (defensive coordinator) Coach (Sam) Gillispie wanted to see with the defense, just flying around and getting to the ball.”
After the Lions' first three plays netted no yards, Brownwood marched 70 yards in eight snaps before Bowden scored, breaking one tackle at the line of scrimmage and another near the end zone to account for the first touchdown.
With one snap left in Brownwood's initial 12 plays for the first-team, Bowden connected with McCarty at midfield, who shook off one defender and outran the rest of the Bulldog defense to the end zone.
The Lions' second-team then traveled 70 yards in five plays, sparked by a 42-yard scramble by quarterback Clayton Bertrand, before Hickey scored from 4 yards out.
On the second set of plays for the Brownwood second-team, Kittrell took the second snap the distance, sprinting past the Burnet defense for the score.
And with three snaps remaining for the Lions, Johnson slithered through the Bulldog defense and broke for his scoring scamper.
Kittrell led the ground game with 78 yards followed by Johnson with 67 yards, Bertrand with 42, Hickey with 32, Gavin Jefferson with 31 and Bowden with 20.
Bowden completed 5 of 8 passes for 114 yards, McCarty connected on a pair of 51 yards and Bertrand added a 12-yard completion.
Leading receivers included McCarty with the 70-yard scoring reception, Marcus Mosley with a 41-yard catch and run, Ben Kallman with two grabs for 27 yards, Nick Salazar with two catches covering 22 yards, Revada with a 12-yard pick up and Jetton with a 7-yard reception. A 37-yard reception by Salazar was negated by a penalty, which would have put the Lions in the neighborhood of 500 yards of total offense for the scrimmage.
On the health front, Bertrand suffered a right shoulder injury on his 42-yard scramble, but later to action. His night ended early, however, and his right shoulder was iced before the scrimmage concluded.
Also, linebacker Hunter Mares turned an ankle close to the end of the scrimmage but the injury did not appear to be major.
“We came out of it healthy for the most but, that's our No. 1 concern, but we had a couple of dings out there,” Maxfield said. Regarding Bertrand and Mares, Maxfield said, “They're banged up a little bit, but nothing too serious right now.”
Next for the Lions is their second and final scrimmage at Wichita Falls Rider on Thursday. Currently, JV and freshman action is slated to begin at 4 p.m with the varsity scrimmage to follow around 5:30 p.m.
“It'd be nice to see the same result next week, but Rider's a team that will probably match our speed a little better than what we saw tonight,” Maxfield said. “We just want to get better every day. Monday we go to afternoon practices so we get into our season routine. Wednesday we'll back off a little bit so we'll have our legs back on Thursday. Then we'll spend Friday lifting and conditioning and evaluating the film.”
The Lions open the season Friday, Sept. 1 against Canyon at Wolfforth Frenship.