If the Brownwood Lions do drop to Class 3A during UIL realignment in February, perhaps the team they will miss the least will be the Killeen Kangaroos.
The No. 6 Lions dropped their third decision in four years to the Kangaroos, suffering a 25-22 homecoming defeat at Gordon Wood Stadium Friday. The loss also dropped Brownwood out of first place in District 16-4A.
Coming off a 17-10 victory at No. 8 Copperas Cove in last week’s district opener, Brownwood took a 14-7 halftime lead before coughing up the ball three times in the second half — all of which resulted in Killeen touchdowns.
“There’s no pretty way to hide the fact that when we had the upper hand at the half and coming out in the third quarter we put it on the ground three times,” said Lions head coach Steve Freeman. “There’s no way to survive that.
“But where this team is headed right now is no different than where we were headed on Aug. 6 when we got rolling back in two-a-days. Nothing’s changed. We’re still heading that same way. We have the same theory that if we don’t give up big plays, if we keep the penalties in check and if we don’t turn the ball over, we can play with anybody.”
The Lions struggled in all three areas Friday.
The Kangaroos (5-2, 1-1) chalked up 239 of their 327 total yards in the second half against a Brownwood (5-2, 1-1) defense that had allowed just 13 points and 242.8 yards per game through the first six. Meanwhile, the Lions offense tallied just 244 total yards. Seventy of those yards came on their final scoring drive.
Trailing by 11 points late in the contest, the Lions cut the deficit to 25-22 on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Casey Pachall to Chris Munson, coupled with a Pachall to Kenny Vaccaro two-point conversion toss.
Brownwood elected to kick deep with 2:57 remaining, but Killeen’s Tamarcus Brown returned the kick 39 yards to the Lions 46. The Roos picked up two of their 21 first downs, including a 28-yard pass from Alijawon White to Levi Fuson — who grabbed five receptions for 90 yards — down to the Brownwood 7, which allowed Killeen to run out the clock.
“Our kids showed again tonight that they aren’t going to quit,” Freeman said. “Just like last week, we’re going to move forward as a team and we’re going to become a good football team.”
Still leading 14-7 at the 7:50 mark of the third period, Brownwood’s first play of the second half resulted in a fumble which was recovered by Killeen’s Devon Fontenot on the Lion 34.
Killeen needed eight plays to cover the 34 yards before tailback Marcus Tillman — who rushed for 130 yards on 29 carries — scored on a 1-yard dive. Alejandro Garcia’s extra point bounced off the left upright, which allowed Brownwood to cling to a 14-13 lead with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
On Brownwood’s next possession, the Lions picked up three consecutive first downs on runs of 15 and 10 yards by Corey Burr — who ran for a team-high 55 yards — and a 20-yard scamper by Pachall — who was sacked five times and limited to 27 yards on the ground.
Facing a second-and-9 from the Killeen 13, the shotgun snap slipped through Pachall’s hands and was pounced on by Killeen’s Demetrius Daniels.
Killeen proceeded to march 81 yards in seven plays, with the final 33 coming on a toss from White — who completed 10-of-16 passes for 132 yards — to an uncovered Jacorie Baker on the first play of the fourth quarter. Leading for the first time, 19-14, Killeen opted to try for two points, but White’s pass was picked off by Vaccaro.
Brownwood’s next possession started on its own 40, but four plays were all it took for the Lions to put the ball on the ground again. The pigskin was jarred away from Burr following a 6-yard gain and recovered by Killeen’s Titus Barnes on the Roo 41 with 9:53 left.
Again Killeen made the most of the opportunity, taking a 25-14 advantage when Tillman broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run on third-and-2 with 4:28 left. The eight-play, 59-yard march ate 4:25 off the fourth-quarter clock.
The drive was extended by a pair of Brownwood penalties — two of its six for 59 yards. The first was an offsides call on a third-and-9 incompletion, which then turned into a Tillman 6-yard run on third-and-4. The next was a pass interference call on a third-and-10 at the Lions’ 47, which advanced the ball to the Brownwood 32.
“Killeen’s a good football team and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but the wheels didn’t fall off,” Freeman said. “We were in the backyard under a shade tree and took the wheels off ourselves.”
Brownwood opened the scoring at the 8:52 mark of the second period on an 8-yard run by Zach Green, the sophomore’s first touchdown since being called up the varsity last week.
The 35-yard, six-play scoring drive began when Vaccaro dove and intercepted a White pass, which had been tipped at the line of scrimmage by Justin Ragsdale.
Killeen answered on its ensuing drive and moved 80 yards in nine plays before White hit Jerald Gould on an 8-yard scoring toss.
The final touchdown of the first half belonged to Brownwood and was again the result of a short field.
After Vaccaro downed a punt at the Killeen 1, the Roos were forced into a three-and-out and a 30-yard punt to the Killeen 31.
The Lions needed just four plays to find the end zone as Pachall — who completed 8-of-12 passes for 144 yards — threw the first of his two touchdown passes to Parker Taylor on a 20-yard fade. Jarrod Howey’s extra point with 7 seconds left in the half gave Brownwood its 14-7 advantage.
Brownwood will look to bounce back in Waco next week as the Lions face the University Trojans (1-6, 0-2), who fell, 48-21, to Copperas Cove (6-1, 1-1) Friday night. In other 16-4A action, No. 5 Waco High (6-1, 2-0) remained the district’s lone unbeaten team with a 28-3 victory over Midway (4-3, 1-1), which defeated Killeen by 24 points last week.
“It’s going to be a dogfight in this district through Week 10 regardless of what happened tonight,” Freeman said. “We’re still shooting for that district crown. That hasn’t changed for me and I know it hasn’t if you ask our players either.”