The No. 9 Brownwood Lions left no doubt when it comes to the level of dominance they are capable of on either side of the football.
The Lions offense scored two touchdowns in each quarter, while the defense did not yield a first down until late in the third period as Brownwood demolished the Sweetwater Mustangs, 55-7, in the Gordon Wood Classic Friday night.
“Our kids played with good effort tonight,” said Lions head coach Steve Freeman. “This is all about us and putting together good building blocks. We’re going to put blocks in place and I want make sure they’re solid and firm.”
Defensively, the Lions (2-0) forced five turnovers and gave up only 169 yards of total offense, but Sweetwater (0-2) padded its meager stats in the final 12 minutes.
Through three quarters, the Mustangs had mustered just 30 yards of total offense and a pair of first downs. Sweetwater was awarded a first down following a pass interference call with 5:05 left in third period, then the Mustangs earned their second first down 73 seconds later.
Brownwood safety Kenny Vaccaro recovered three Sweetwater fumbles, while linebacker Jordan Longoria intercepted his second pass in as many weeks and cornerback Jason Maldonado also picked off a pass.
Sweetwater’s triple-option attack finished with only 93 yards rushing on 40 carries (2.3 yards per attempt) by 11 different ball carriers. Eight of the Mustangs’ rush attempts ended with tackles for loss.
“The defense took control and that’s a good indicator about what I’ve been talking about since day one with the defense feeding the offense, and the offense feeding the defense,” Freeman said. “The yardage after contact we allowed was significant through the scrimmages. It improved last week and tonight we took a major step putting a hat on them.”
Through the air, the Mustangs completed just 3-of-11 passes for 86 yards, with 80 of that coming on a late touchdown.
Nathan Bobbitt ran onto the field just prior to the snap and was left uncovered, then caught a 20-yard pass from Jake Lawrence that turned into an 80-yard catch-and-run for six points with 9:46 left in the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, Lions quarterback Casey Pachall threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and finished 11-of-18 for 163 yards. Pachall connected on scoring tosses of 12 yards to Chris Munson, 16 yards to Vaccaro, 25 yards to Corey Burr and 14 yards to Jarrod Howey.
Brownwood’s 239-yard ground attack was led by Burr, who rushed for three touchdowns and 95 yards on 11 attempts. Burr scored on runs of 4, 1 and 5 yards.
As a team, the Lions finished with 402 yards of total offense, despite an average starting field position of the Sweetwater 46 on their 14 possessions.
Brownwood’s first play was a negative, but the four that followed set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The Lions fumbled the opening kickoff, which Sweetwater recovered on the Brownwood 27. Grady Staton sacked Sweetwater quarterback Zach Birdwell for a 9-yard loss on the Mustangs’ first snap, which signaled what was to come from the Brownwood defense.
Sweetwater later turned the ball over on downs after losing 12 yards, and the Mustangs’ ensuing three possessions all ended with turnovers.
“The defense fed us and held their guys out and we were able to get rolling offensively and have things go our way,” Freeman said.
Longoria’s interception at the 6:35 mark of the first period set up Brownwood’s first scoring drive on the Sweetwater 20. Following a Burr 13-yard run and an illegal procedure penalty, Pachall and Munson hooked up on a 12-yard scoring toss. Howey’s two-point run gave the Lions an 8-0 lead at the 5:42 mark of the first period.
“Jordan’s interception took place between the numbers and the sideline and he was playing the middle linebacker position, which shows the mobility he has,” Freeman said.
Vaccaro pounced on a Mustang fumble 55 seconds later, setting up Brownwood at the Sweetwater 17. The Lions needed three plays to score this time as Pachall found Vaccaro on a 16-yard scoring toss that Vaccaro ripped out of a defender’s hands.
Leading 15-0 after one quarter, the Lions tacked on their third touchdown following a five-play, 92-yard march. Longoria rambled for 79 yards on third-and-2 from Brownwood 16, which set up Burr’s 4-yard run at the 7:43 juncture.
Brownwood went into halftime up 27-0 following a 25-yard Pachall to Burr pass, which came with 3:44 left in the second period directly after a Mustang fumble.
The Lions needed less than two minutes to add to their lead in the second half as another Sweetwater fumble three plays into the third period set up Brownwood’s 29-yard scoring drive.
Pachall and Howey hooked up on a 14-yard scoring toss to increase the lead to 34-0 just 100 seconds into the third quarter.
At the 5:14 mark of the third period, Burr scored on a 1-yard run to cap a five-play, 33-yard trek and boost the Lions’ advantage to 41-0.
Pachall picked up his first rushing touchdown of the season on an 18-yard run with 10:05 left in the game, and Burr added Brownwood’s final touchdown 65 seconds later. Burr’s score capped a three-play, 69-yard drive that answered Sweetwater’s lone touchdown.
The Lions — who are 2-0 for the first time since the undefeated regular season of 2003 — will look to avenge another of their seven losses from 2006 when they head to Burnet next week.
The Bulldogs knocked off Brownwood, 40-22, in the Gordon Wood Classic last year, but fell to Class 3A No. 2 Liberty Hill, 34-17, Friday night.