BURNET — Facing their greatest adversity — and first road test — of the young season, the No. 9 Brownwood Lions fought from behind to keep their unbeaten record intact.
The Lions defense yielded just three field goals, while the offense scratched out a couple of touchdowns to escape with a 12-9 victory over the Burnet Bulldogs here Friday night.
“This was a good win for us,” said Lions head coach Steve Freeman. “I’m proud of the fact that our kids came on and did what we needed them to do. We may be disappointed that we only put 12 points on board, but we’re not disappointed they only had nine. A win is a win.”
Corey Burr rushed for 212 of Brownwood’s 360 yards of total offense and ran for a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 1:07 left in the third period.
Defensively, the Lions surrendered just two first downs and 71 yards in the second half, and gave up only 214 total yards the entire game.
“The defense kept us on the map again for the entire game, especially early in the game,” Freeman said.
Burr’s 1-yard dive late in the third capped a 13-play, 79-yard drive that ate 6:02 off the clock and turned the tide firmly back in the Lions (3-0) favor.
Burnet (1-2) had a second chance to expand on a 9-6 lead early in the third quarter as Jake Myer’s 38-yard reception keyed the Bulldogs’ march to the Brownwood 12. Burnet then committed a pair of penalties and lost 15 yards before Ross Evans — who had made his first 16 kicks of the season, including three field goals in the first period — hooked a 38-yard attempt wide left to help the Lions dodge another bullet.
Brownwood’s methodical march featured runs of 18 and 15 yards by Burr, 10 and 8 yards by Casey Pachall and two 16-yard passes from Pachall to Parker Taylor.
After Burr powered for five yards to the Bulldog 2, the Burnet defense stood tough for the next two snaps. But Burr barreled into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1, which gave Brownwood its first lead since the 20-second mark of the first quarter.
“Offensively, we made some plays when it was time to make some plays,” Freeman said. ‘In the second half we were able to capitalize on some key first downs in third down situations and Corey was able to grind it out behind the people up front.”
Burnet was also poised to increase its three-point lead late in the first half before the Lions turned the Bulldogs away with a goal-line stand.
The Bulldogs began a 76-yard trek down to the Brownwood 2 with 8:23 left in the first half. Quarterback Kyle Brunson’s 47-yard scramble moved the Bulldogs to the Lions’ 24, then David Lindley followed with an 11-yard end-around.
Burnet had two downs to pick up three yards and a first down at the Brownwood 1, but Bubba Richards and Darius Nesby were unable to continue the drive, which ended with 5:07 left in the first half.
“The defense did a great job again,” Freeman said. “They’re putting together some great building blocks. That stand on the goal line and helping us win the field position battles all night, they came through on multiple different factors.”
In the first period, Burnet received field goals of 29, 45, and 47 yards from Evans to take the lead, though the Bulldogs generated only 52 yards of total offense on the three possessions.
The first field goal was set up by a blocked punt that was recovered by Cory Kuhn on the Brownwood 9. The Bulldogs lost three yards on that drive, gained 22 on the second and moved 33 yards for the third field goal.
Burr’s first touchdown run came just 22 seconds into the contest as the Lions’ senior running back took the first play from scrimmage 94 yards around the left end. Jarrod Howey missed the first of two extra-point kicks, however, leaving the score 6-0.
“We had such a quick start and then such a slow rest of the first half offensively,” Freeman said. “We made some mistakes, but we endured through them.”
Among the Lions’ offensive troubles were two turnovers and just 95 total yards the rest of the first half following Burr’s touchdown. The Lions also had drives that reached the Burnet 29, 25, 21 and 5 that did not result in points.
“I’m going to have to check our drives that have approached the 30 and 25 and see where we are percentage-wise,” Freeman said. “In years past it’s been extremely high. I’ll probably be surprised because we’ve defaulted a few times this year.”
The Lions will have almost two weeks to fix any lingering errors from Friday’s win. Brownwood, which is off to its first 3-0 start since 2003, is off next week, then visits San Angelo Lake View on Thursday, Sept. 27.