Brownwood opens playoffs against WF Hirschi Friday at ACU

The Brownwood Lions will ride a three-game win streak into the postseason, as another quick start secured the No. 3 playoff berth out in District 3-4A Division I in Friday night's regular-season finale at Gordon Wood Stadium.

The Lions scored on each of their first four possessions, racing out to 27-0 advantage just 39 seconds into the second period en route to a 47-25 triumph over the Snyder Tigers.

“We didn't want to give Snyder hope that they could play with us, but even though we got up 27-0 we got a little lackadaisical,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield “It's hard to stay up for four quarters when a game starts like that, but I'm proud of the way the guys came back and played in the second half.”

With the victory, the Lions (6-4, 2-2) earned a Region I-4A bi-district date with the District 4 runner-up Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies (8-2). Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Abilene Christian University's new Wildcat Stadium. Snyder (2-8, 1-3), the District 4 fourth seed, must now face District 4 champion Argyle (10-0) to begin the playoffs.

“Our schedule has been so tough, but I think it's prepared us for what we're about to face,” Maxfield said. “We got through it fairly healthy and we knew if we could survive and withstand some big hits and still be standing, that once you get into the tournament anything can happen.”

Behind the offensive front of Colby Coppic, Rylan Reagan, Carlos Benites, Blaize Infinger and Liam McCraw, the Lions generated 374 yards of total offense and got its running game going with 229 yards coming on the ground.

“They were all sitting there on the bench near the end and I went up and shook their hands and told them what a great job they did tonight,” Maxfield said of the offensive line. “They started imposing their will from the start and we were able to run the ball pretty effectively all night.”

Gavin Jefferson led the charge with 134 yards and three touchdowns, Cain Kittrell chipped in 62 yards with two trips to the end zone and quarterback Tommy Bowden added 47 yards and a score.

“You have to be able to run the ball when you get into the playoffs, and we feel we're in good shape there now,” Maxfield said.

Bowden also completed 9 of 14 passes for 145 yards with his 25th touchdown toss of the season. Braden Jetton caught a team-best four passes for 43 yards, A.J. McCarty added three receptions for 77 yards with a trip to the end zone and Nick Salazar caught a pair of passes totaling 25 yards.

“Tommy's been hot all year, his stats are unbelievable,” Maxfield said. “He was a little off at times tonight, but when we needed a play he always came through.”

On the defensive end, the Lions forced three turnovers — an interception and a fumble recovery by Tristin Revada and a pick by Dylan Hickey — while allowing Snyder 316 total yards, 185 on the ground and 131 through the air.

Nathan Kendrick, one of four Tigers to attempt a pass, threw for 80 yards and rushed for 63 — both team-highs. Jenile Burns caught three passes for 45 yards and added 61 yards on the ground and scored twice.

“I thought the defense played well and created some big turnovers,” Maxfield said. “They ran some razzle dazzle plays and all of the sudden you look up at halftime and it's 33-18. But we regrouped at halftime and made some adjustments, and I'm really proud of our guys for executing in the second half.”

The momentum swung back in Brownwood's favor for good early in the third period. After the Lions went three-and-out to start the second half, Snyder moved to the Lion 33 on its first drive after halftime. With a chance to possibly creep within one possession of the lead, Snyder instead threw three straight incompletions and came up 7 yards short of the first down marker on a fourth-down scramble by Kendrick.

The Lions took over at their own 30 and marched 70 yards in 10 plays and 3:50 before Kittrell's 1-yard plunge at the 5:16 mark stretched the Brownwood advantage to 40-18 after a Zack Smith extra point.

“That was big,” Maxfield said of the defensive stand. “The kids did a great job at getting stops when they had to.”

The next Snyder possession lasted just three plays as Revada recovered a fumble at the Tiger 19 after a completion from Kendrick to Jake Chavez. On the next snap, Jefferson scored as Brownwood pushed the advantage to 47-18 with 3:51 left in the third period — the final Lion points of the night.

Brownwood's opening drive of the game — after a three-and-out by Snyder — covered 58 yards in 10 plays, all rushes, before Jefferson reached the end zone on a 2-yard dive.

The Lions extended the lead to 14-0 on an 8-yard Kittrell run that capped a five-play, 41-yard drive. Kittrell ran for 15 yards the play prior to his touchdown, while Bowden connected with Jetton on an 18-yard catch-and-run to move the ball to the brink of the end zone.

Hickey's interception of Julian Flores ended Snyder's ensuing possession after one play. Five snaps later, Bowden scored on an option keeper on fourth-and-goal from the 5, and the Lions led 20-0 with 2:11 remaining in the opening stanza.

Brownwood's next possession covered 68 yards in eight plays as Jefferson found the end zone from 6 yards out to extend the lead to four touchdowns. Bowden rushed for 30 yards on the first play of the drive to move the ball to the Snyder 38.

Snyder closed the gap to 27-10 following a 14-yard throw back pass from Chavez to Kendrick, while Omar Alonzo booted a 31-yard field goal after a bad snap on a Brownwood punt resulted in a 26-yard loss and the Tigers with starting field position at the Lion 17.

Brownwood responded in just two plays, however, as a 7-yard reception by Jetton set up a 58-yard scoring strike from Bowden to McCarty. Brownwood led 33-10 with 2:46 left in the half, but Snyder scored with 29 seconds left on a wheel route from Kendrick to Burns, who also added the two-point conversion, to close the gap to 15 points at intermission.

Friday was also Senior Night for the Lions, the second class Maxfield has witnessed play their final games at Gordon Wood Stadium.

“It's been great the last two years watching these men and they have really grown up and matured since I first met them,” Maxfield said. “To go out with a win at home, I'm really proud of them, but they're still hungry, still all-in and still wanting to make a run. One thing is certain, they play hard from beginning to end and I don't expect anything less in the playoffs.”

Hirschi, the first-round opponent for the Lions, has lost only to Graham (42-35) and Argyle (37-29). Running back Daimarqua Foster went into Friday's 41-21 win over Gainesville with 2,137 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns for the season.

“Hirschi is for real, the real deal, legit, whatever you want to say about them,” Maxfield said. “They have a running back that's out of this world and a defensive tackle that's being recruited by all the SEC teams. They haven't played as tough an overall schedule as us, but when you play Argyle and Graham, those are two of the best teams in the state.”

•••

Lions 47, Snyder 25

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Snyder 0 18 0 7 - 25

Brownwood 20 13 14 0 - 47

SCORING SUMMARY

B: Gavin Jefferson 2 run (Zack Smith kick), 6:52, 1st

B: Cain Kittrell 8 run (Smith kick), 3:41, 1st

B: Tommy Bowden 5 run (Smith kick), 2:11, 1st

B: Jefferson 6 run (kick failed), 11:21, 2nd

S: Nathan Kendrick 14 pass from Jake Chavez (Omar Alonzo kick), 7:32, 2nd

S: Alonzo 31 FG, 3:42, 2nd

B: A.J. McCarty 58 pass from Bowden (run failed), 2:46, 2nd

S: Jenile Burns 18 pass from Kendrick (Burns run), 0:29 2nd

B: Kittrell 1 run (Smith kick), 5:16, 3rd

B: Jefferson 19 run (Smith kick), 3:51, 3rd

S: Burns 10 run (Alonzo kick), 1:21, 4th

TEAM STATS

S B

First Downs 15 26

Total Offense 316 374

Rushes-Yards 27-185 40-229

Passing Yards 131 145

C-A-I 11-27-2 9-14-0

Fumbles Lost 1 0

Penalties 9-50 6-63

Punts 3-29.0 1-29.0

PLAYER STATS

Rushing

S: Nathan Kendrick 8-63, Jenile Burns 12-61, Julian Flores 7-61. B: Gavin Jefferson 28-134, Cain Kittrell 11-62, Tommy Bowden 6-47, A.J. McCarty 3-17, Tye’Rus Jones 2-(-5), Team 1-(-26).

Passing

S: Kendrick 6-16-0-80, Flores 4-9-1-37, Jake Chavez 1-1-0-14, Burns 0-1-1-0. B: Bowden 9-14-0-145.

Receiving

S: Burns 3-45, Chavez 3-13, Kendrick 2-22, Julian Murillo 2-17, Cedrick Quinoz 1-34. B: Braden Jetton 4-43, McCarty 3-77, Nick Salazar 2-25.