Brownwood scores 14 points off three turnovers, snaps two-game skid
ALVARADO — With the Brownwood offense being held to season-lows in points and yardage, the Lions’ defense answered the challenge and put forth its best performance of the season en route to 21-7 road victory over the Alvarado Indians Friday night.
“Obviously our offense wasn’t as potent tonight as it has been, but it’s a team win because the defense stepped up,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield.
The Lions (2-2) forced three turnovers, two of which were turned into Brownwood first-half touchdowns, and surrendered a season-low 232 yards to Alvarado (0-4).
“I’m so happy for the kids and the coaches. They really worked hard this week to bounce back,” Maxfield said. “It’s a credit to everyone on that side of the ball and our whole staff because Alvarado’s not a bad team on offense. We only gave up one or two plays all night.”
Alvarado scored its only touchdown on a 50-yard draw play by Blake Henderson with 55 seconds left in the first half. The Indians also completed passes of 39 and 26 yards. Aside from those three plays, however, Alvarado managed just 117 yards on 50 snaps — an average of 2.3 yards per play.
Brownwood was coming off a two-game stretch in which it surrendered 124 points and 1,437 yards in losses to Graham and Liberty Hill.
“Defensively we had a meeting Monday and talked about things, trying to figure out what we’ve been doing wrong, and we came together as a team and decided to step it up and do what we needed to do,” said linebacker Hunter Mares, an AP All-State honorable mention selection a year ago. “Coming off my ankle injury, this was the best I’ve felt all year. A couple of people have asked me where I’ve been, and that frustrated me, so I felt like I had to come out here and prove myself.”
Offensively, the Lions took their first drive — which followed an opening three-and-out by Alvarado — 63 yards in 10 plays with Tommy Bowden scoring the first of his two rushing touchdowns on the ground from 1 yard out. A botched extra point turned into a two-point conversion when Bowden found Hayden Tunnell in the back of the end zone to make the score 8-0 at the 7:31 mark of the first period.
Brownwood started its next two possessions on Alvarado’s side of the field following a Theo Bryant fumble recovery and a Kirk Vickers interception, both of which resulted in touchdowns.
Three plays after Brownwood’s first touchdown, Bryant pounced on a dropped snapped by Alvarado quarterback Colten Robles at the Indian 32.
Seven plays later, Cain Kittrell reached the end zone on a 2-yard carry that increased the lead to 14-0 with 2:32 left in the first period after a missed extra point.
Alvarado picked up its initial first down on the next series before Vickers intercepted Robles on a fourth-and-3 call from the Indian 43.
The Lions started their third possession at the Indian 45 and took nine plays to collect their third touchdown on a 12-yard scamper by Bowden. Zack Smith’s extra point extended the Brownwood advantage to 21-0 with 7:22 left in the first half.
“We really came out on fire and that was a great, quick start,” Maxfield said.
The Lions amassed 137 yards on their first three drives, and finished with 181 yards in the first half, but tallied just 214 for the game.
Right tackle Colby Coppic and right guard Tyelor Chew were hobbled by injuries, so the Lions opted for a more ball-controlled attack with Rylan Reagan and Carlos Benitez filling those spots up front. The Lions attempted just 11 passes while rushing 39 times for 174 yards.
“We had some kids step up and I’ll be interested to watch the film,” Maxfield said. “The second half we got really conservative and we have to learn to get first downs and run the clock better.”
Brownwood center Wyatt Jacobs was lined up against Alvarado’s 6-foot, 295-pound nose guard Amir Foston — who Maxfield felt was among the Indians’ best defensive players — throughout the night.
“We knew Amir was going to be good and hard to move, we just came out and worked on staying low, working our feet and staying on him,” Jacobs said. “In the end our conditioning beat out theirs and we worked them over.”
Bowden rushed for 65 yards, Gavin Jefferson added 64 and Kittrell finished with 38 yards. Bowden connected on 6 of 10 passes with five going to A.J. McCarty for 32 yards while Braden Jetton made an 8-yard grab. McCarty also added a 7-yard carry.
While the Lions offense sputtered from the midway point of the second period on, the defense stood its ground — with the exception of Henderson’s touchdown run from midfield.
Twice the Lions forced Alvarado into punt situations in which the snap sailed over the punter’s head and resulted in incomplete passes after heavy pursuit.
Alvarado used a 39-yard completion from Robles — who was 3 of 12 for 79 yards — to Jake McCullough to eventually advance to the Brownwood 12, where the Lions held on a fourth-and-7 with 6:08 remaining.
Isaiah Marquez moved from linebacker to defensive tackle to fill in for the injured Santanna Espinoza Friday night, and played a pivotal role in the Lions allowing 153 rushing yards on 39 carries —3.9 yards per tote. Taking away the Henderson touchdown, Alvarado averaged only 2.7 yards on 38 rushing attempts.
“It was a lot different for me coming from playing linebacker,” Marquez said. “It’s a little harder to get off the ball, but in practice I’ve been working on drills to help get off faster and read the run.”
The Lions will seek their first win streak of 2017 as they play their third consecutive game away from home next week when they tangle with the Giddings Buffaloes at Temple High School — the second neutral site game of the season for Brownwood. Giddings (1-3) is coming off a 56-28 loss to Yoakum.
“I’m proud of these kids tonight, but Giddings is going to be another big test and we’re going to have to get better,” Maxfield said.
Lions 21, Alvarado 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Brownwood 14 7 0 0 - 21
Alvarado 0 7 0 0 - 7
B: Tommy Bowden 1 run (Hayden Tunnell pass from Bowden), 7:31, 1st
B: Cain Kittrell 2 run (kick failed), 2:32, 1st
B: Bowden 12 run (Zack Smith kick), 7:22, 2nd
A: Blake Henderson 50 run (Luis Quintana kick), 0:55, 2nd
First Downs 15 11
Total Offense 214 232
Rushes-Yards 39-174 39-153
Passing Yards 40 79
C-A-I 6-11-0 3-14-1
Fumbles Lost 1 2
Penalties 4-45 4-30
Punts 3-39.0 1-37.0
B: Tommy Bowden 9-65, Gavin Jefferson 18-64, Cain Kittrell 11-38, A.J. McCarty 1-7
A: Blake Henderson 14-78, Jonathan Wall 11-51, Colton Robles 8-16, Jacob Shockley 2-5, Braylon Ray 4-3.
B: Bowden 6-10-0-40, McCarty 0-1-0-0.
A: Robles 3-12-1-79, Punter 0-2-0-0
B: McCarty 5-32, Braden Jetton 1-8.
A: Jacoby Rivera 2-40, Jake McCullough 1-39.