LUBBOCK – The District 2-3A champion Brownwood Lions collected their first playoff victory since 2006 Friday night at Texas Tech’s Jones AT&T Stadium, and if their bi-district championship performance is any indication, the Lions could be hanging around for quite a while this postseason.
The Lions dominated from the opening kick to the final buzzer in their 33-7 victory over the Dalhart Golden Wolves. Brownwood (9-2) tallied more points than any other Dalhart (6-5) opponent this season, while the defense surrendered just 112 total yards and stretched its string of scoreless quarters to six.
Next up for Brownwood is a Class 3A Division II, Region I area playoff game against the Seminole Indians at 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Angelo Stadium. Seminole (8-3) defeated Clint (6-5) for the second time this season, 55-7, in the bi-district round Friday.
“I was really proud of the way we played for four full quarters,” said Brownwood first-year head coach Bob Shipley. “The kids played real hard, and that’s all I can ask them to do. It’s always nice to have that first playoff win under your belt. We lived to play another week, and that’s what’s so fun about being in the high school playoffs.”
The Brownwood defense was again relentless as, aside from 93 yards rushing on 24 carries by Davonte Burks and 38 yards on nine carries by Jose Villalobos, Dalhart produced negative 19 yards of total offense. The Golden Wolves also did not complete a pass as quarterback Noah Jesko finished 0-for-9.
“The defense pitched a shutout,” Shipley said. “That’s another great job by them; we just have to keep rolling and keep getting better.”
Added defensive end Alex Elizondo, “We just tried to be really aggressive. We wanted to shut down the run, it didn’t matter who had the ball. Coach (defensive coordinator Chuck) Howard and the rest of the defensive coaches have done a good job, and we have really good effort in our practices. We’re playing with a lot of heart, mainly.”
Offensively, the Lions’ first drive stalled at the Dalhart 1, and Brownwood later escaped harm after it failed to convert a fourth-and-8 from its own 32 midway through the second period. Other than those two plays, the Lions did what they wanted offensively.
Brownwood finished with 383 yards of total offense – 253 passing and 130 rushing – and the starters produced five touchdowns in the first three periods before Shipley emptied the bench for the fourth quarter.
“Everybody got some playing time and we had some fun,” said safety/running back Derek Longoria.
Vance McShan completed 19-of-25 passes for 253 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Jaxon Shipley, who caught a team-best seven balls for 159 yards, including an 86-yard catch-and-run for six points.
“Vance was right back in sync as he always is,” Shipley said. “He did a great job and was able to hit Jaxon with a couple of deep balls. Some others, like Cade Johnson, also caught some big first down passes.”
Added McShan, “We came out and executed like we wanted to. I wasn’t happy with the way I played against Snyder, but I came out and did what I needed to do tonight to help us get a win. We’re coming together as a team, but there are still things we can get better at.”
Stehl Ratliff anchored the rushing attack with 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries, while Longoria chipped in 21 yards and a 2-yard scoring dive.
“We knew we were going to come out and run our game plan. Their numbers didn’t faze us at all,” Ratliff said of the Dalhart defense, which was allowing just 12 points per game and had not given up more than 27 points in a game this season. “We really didn’t change up anything at all. We just stuck to what we’ve been doing, the power game, and the line did a great job.”
The Lions received the opening kick and marched 71 yards to the Dalhart 1 – thanks in part to a pair of catches for 47 yards by Shipley – before the drive stalled as Brownwood could not convert a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The second Brownwood drive did result in points, however, as the Lions marched 68 yards in eight plays before Ratliff scored on an 8-yard carry.
Brownwood maintained its 7-0 edge into the second period, where Dalhart threatened after taking over on the Lion 32 after a failed fourth-and-8 pass attempt.
The Golden Wolves moved the ball to the Brownwood 8 before Caden Ellis wrestled down Burks for a 4-yard loss on third-and-8. Zinzan Puttick came on to attempt a 30-yard field goal that sailed wide left.
“I really think Dalhart came to play,” Shipley said. “They were physical up front, and it took us a while to get adjusted to it.”
After the missed field goal, Dalhart never crossed midfield again and mustered just 58 total yards the rest of the contest.
“This feels pretty good and it gives us even more confidence,” said Longoria of the Lion defense’s string of six straight scoreless quarters. “The defense did a pretty good job. We had our plan all around stopping the running back. We made the right reads, came ready to play and came out with the win.”
Two plays after the missed field goal, the Lions struck for their biggest offensive play as McShan hit Shipley streaking down the middle of the field for an 86-yard scoring toss with 4:58 left in the first half.
Brownwood tacked on its third touchdown with 13 seconds left before halftime as the Lions traveled 37 yards – following a 14-yard punt – in just nine plays before Longoria scored on a 2-yard run.
The Lions also scored on their first possession of the second half, moving 35 yards on three plays as Ratliff found the end zone on a 25-yard scamper.
“Michael Gonzales created a hole so big on that play, and I just did the rest with my speed,” Ratliff said.
McShan and Shipley hooked up one last time to cap a 13-play, 62-yard drive as Shipley hauled in a 3-yard scoring reception with 2:30 left in third period.
Dalhart scored its only points in controversial fashion with 5:51 left. Greg Carter returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown as Brownwood’s all-freshman backfield of Matt McCrane, Newt Harrell and Cameron Deal coughed up the ball on an option play. It appeared Carter recovered the ball while on the ground and then got up to run, which should not have been allowed.
“The offense gave up six points, but it really wasn’t even that,” Shipley said. “The guy was on the ground when he picked up the ball and got up and the refs missed it I think, but I’ll have to watch the film.”
Brownwood also missed an extra point and had a PAT blocked, which Shipley stated would be areas the Lions focused on this week in their preparations for Seminole.
“Obviously our protection has to get better on kicks, and even on punts,” Shipley said.