Brownwood reels off 32 consecutive points in first half to seize control
WOLFFORTH — The Brownwood Lions’ first four games of the 2016 football season were decided on the final snap, including a season-opening 20-17 overtime loss to the Class 5A Canyon Eagles.
In Friday’s rematch at Peoples Bank Stadium, the final outcome was a foregone conclusion well before halftime as the Lions mauled Canyon, 60-20, to start the 2017 campaign in the win column.
“It was one of the best performances I’ve been a part of as far as a team playing all three phases of the game the way we needed to,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield, who guided Brownwood to a 6-4 record and bi-district championship a year ago. “This is a big night for our young players to gain some confidence not only in winning, but in each other and in the coaching staff, and to be confident in what we’re capable of this season.”
The Lions scored on their first seven possessions, — including all six in the first half, as well as two of Canyon’s — amassed 386 of their 477 total yards before halftime, and reeled off a string of 32 unanswered points over a stretch of 11:25 during the first two quarters.
“You never expect a performance like this, but I thought our third down conversions were big because we were in third down more than once and found a way to get the first,” Maxfield said. “That’s a credit to our kids and our staff for being ready for those situations.”
Defensively, Brownwood yielded 251 yards of total offense — 173 passing and 78 rushing — as Canyon scored on a 48-yard pass due to a busted assignment in the first period, and on a 28-yard toss on the final snap of the contest.
“The biggest thing that stuck out to me is we played hard and played in between the whistles and we didn’t get any extracurricular flags,” Maxfield said.
Brownwood did finish with 13 penalties for 85 yards, but most came with reserves in the contest gaining valuable experience with the outcome no longer in doubt.
The Lions also recorded four sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries — one by Hayden Donahoo in the second half and the other by Dylan Hickey, who scooped and scored from 44 yards out to change the complexion of the contest.
“I was on a blitz and took off, Hayden (Tunnell) hit the quarterback and he fumbled and I was there to scoop and score. Nobody was even to close to me,” Hickey said of his touchdown that boosted Brownwood’s lead to 20-6 midway through the first period. “The defense came out and executed all our blitzes and did a heck of a job.”
Quarterback Tommy Bowden, in his first varsity start, completed 8 of 14 passes for 193 yards and three scores — including a pair to Nick Salazar— while rushing for 63 yards and another touchdown.
“I’m so happy for Tommy and the whole offense,” Maxfield said. “I know he’s been waiting for this night a long time and he stepped up and it was great to see him have a great performance.”
Gavin Jefferson led Brownwood’s 284-yard rushing attack with 115 yards, while also hauling in a 66-yard touchdown reception. Cain Kittrell chipped in 52 yards and Joseph Johnson added 22 yards on the ground, and both reached the end zone, as did A.J. McCarty.
Jefferson’s long carry of the night was 28 yards on a third-and-12 draw play that kept Brownwood’s opening drive alive. On the next snap, Bowden connected with Salazar on a 44-yard receiver screen to put the Lions in front, 7-0, just 90 seconds into the contest.
“The receivers did a good job and we were on today,” Bowden said. “Everything was clicking so it worked out for us.”
Canyon closed the gap to 7-6 at the 7:52 mark when Rowdy Vaughn scored on a 48-yard pass from Lawton Rikel due to miscommunication in the Brownwood secondary. But the Lions responded with the next 32 points to seize control of the contest.
A 50-yard quarterback keeper by Bowden extended the Lions’ lead to 13-6 just 22 seconds after Canyon scored.
“I was supposed to read the end and he followed the back so I just it took off and the line did the rest,” Bowden said.
After Hickey’s scoop and score increased the lead to 20-6, Rylan Reagan booted a 29-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the first period to stretch the Lions’ lead to three scores, 23-6.
“The momentum change was where we scooped and scored, but another big play in the game was when Rylan made that field goal to put us up three scores,” Maxfield said.
With the Lions owning a 17-point cushion heading into the second period, the points kept coming.
First, Hunter Leonard forced an intentional grounding call in the end zone against the Canyon quarterback Rikel, resulting in a safety, two points, and a 25-6 Brownwood lead one snap into the second quarter.
“I was in a stunt and (Hunter) Mares and Tunnell made him roll out and they helped me make the play,” said Leonard, who tallied two sacks. “It was a group effort. We always have 11 men running to the football. No one in the state of Texas can run through 11 guys at once.”
Brownwood extended its advantage to 32-6 on a 31-yard scoring toss from Bowden to Salazar, while McCarty scored on a 4-yard carry to make the score 39-6 at the 6:05 mark of the second period.
A 14-yard scamper by Rikel allowed Canyon to creep within 39-13, but Bowden connected with Jefferson on a 66-yard wheel route with 22 seconds left in the half, giving Brownwood a 46-13 edge at the break.
“I was trying to fake the run then I sprinted out to the numbers and Tommy made a perfect pass to me and I was able to finish it,” Jefferson said.
After a 2-yard Canyon punt on its first possession of the second half, the Lions had to move just 8 yards as Kittrell’s 3-yard touchdown carry staked Brownwood to a 53-13 lead at the 10:02 mark of the third period.
Johnson tacked on Brownwood’s final touchdown just 13 seconds into the fourth period, scoring on an 8-yard run that started to the left before he reserved field and outran the Canyon defense to the pylon.
Next up for the Lions is their only home date before Oct. 20 — homecoming against the Graham Steers. Graham, which won the 7-on-7 Division II state championship, defeated Sanger, 55-14, in its season opener Friday.
“The difference between this year and last year is we made the most of our opportunities, we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot and we have to build on that,” Maxfield said. “Graham is going to be a big test. They have a lot of returning starters back and we were fortunate to get a break at the end of the game last year. But Saturday we’re going to start working on trying to beat the Steers.”
Lions 60, Canyon 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Canyon 6 7 0 7 - 20
Brownwood 23 23 7 7 - 60
B: Nick Salazar 44 pass from Tommy Bowden (Zack Smith kick), 10:23, 1st
C: Rowdy Vaughn 48 pass from Lawton Rikel (kick failed), 7:52, 1st
B: Bowden 50 run (kick failed), 7:30, 1st
B: Dylan Hickey 44 fumble return (Smith kick), 5:53, 1st
B: Rylan Reagan 29 FG, 0:22, 1st
B: Safety –Rikel called for intentional grounding in end zone in grasp of Hunter Leonard, 11:53, 2nd
B: Salazar 31 pass from Bowden (Smith kick), 9:56, 2nd
B: A.J McCarty 4 run (Smith kick), 6:05, 2nd
C: Rikel 14 run (Brayden Welch kick) 2:50, 2nd
B: Gavin Jefferson 66 pass from Bowden (Smith kick), 0:48, 2nd
B: Cain Kittrell 3 run (Smith kick), 10:02, 3rd
B: Joseph Johnson 8 run (Smith kick), 11:47, 4th
C: Jack Gilley 28 pass from Rikel (Welch kick), 0:00, 4th
First Downs 14 21
Total Offense 251 477
Rushes-Yards 26-78 42-284
Passing Yards 173 193
C-A-I 16-27-0 8-14-0
Fumbles Lost 2 0
Penalties 7-57 13-85
Punts 6-26.6 3-31.2
C: Rowdy Vaughn 14-51, Lawton Rikel 11-32, Brandon Driskell 1-(-5).
B: Gavin Jefferson 13-115, Tommy Bowden 6-63, Cain Kittrell 9-52, Joseph Johnson 4-22, Alvaro Villarreal 1-14, Tristin Revada 2-6, Tye’Rus Jones 3-5, A.J. McCarty 3-4, Braden Jetton 1-3.
C: Rikel 16-27-0-173
B: Bowden 8-14-0-193.
C: Driskell 5-18, Vaughn 3-88, Jack Gilley 3-35, Cade Olsen 3-20, Seth Nickell 2-12.
B: Ben Kallman 3-35, Nick Salazar 2-75, Gavin Jefferson 1-66, Jetton 1-9, McCarty 1-8.