Having the offense and defense feed off each other is a goal Brownwood head coach Steve Freeman has repeatedly stated he wanted to see from the Lions. In the third quarter of Friday’s non-district finale, the Lions achieved near perfection in that area en route to a 50-30 victory over the Class 4A Manor Mustangs at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Brownwood broke a 22-all halftime tie by scoring 28 third-quarter points, including 14 off turnovers, to seize control of the contest.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been in the win column and this is good for them,” Freeman said. “We had a good third quarter. Defensively we bent a few times, but we also came through with some stops and turnovers. Offensively, we were able to put it together and keep it together and come out on the good side.”
The Lions finished with 453 yards of total offense - 257 passing and a season-high 196 rushing - but had to move an average of just 37 yards per touchdown drive in the third period.
Brownwood’s opening possession of the second half began on the Lions’ 48 following a personal foul call against Manor (1-4) on the kickoff. Brownwood needed just five plays to find the end zone as Casey Pachall connected with Rashad Deal on a 52-yard scoring toss.
Coming off his school record 477-yard, six-touchdown passing effort against No. 1 Liberty Hill two weeks ago, Pachall answered with an 11-of-18, 233-yard passing night that featured three scoring tosses. He also rushed for a team-high 124 yards and two more scores on 15 carries.
Deal, meanwhile, doubled his season reception total with three catches for 76 yards.
Leading 29-22, the Lions needed only two plays to get the ball back. Linebacker Tracer Skelton, who entered the game with a team-high 60 tackles, intercepted a deflected pass by Manor quarterback Riley Beecher at the Brownwood 27.
Six plays later the Lions established their first two-score lead, 36-22, on a 1-yard Pachall run with 7:45 left in the period.
Manor was able to manufacture a first down on its next possession, but a 16-yard punt allowed Brownwood to take over on the Mustangs’ 43.
A diving 42-yard grab by Shelby Miller - who led all Lions with four catches for 123 yards - on the first snap set up Levi Perez’s 1-yard touchdown run, which gave Brownwood a 43-22 advantage at the 4:54 mark of the third period.
The Mustangs’ next drive ended on its eighth play as Parker Taylor intercepted another Beecher pass and returned it 17 yards to the Manor 28.
Beecher, who completed 9-of-15 passes for 215 yards in the first half, did not complete any of his first second attempts after halftime. The Lions allowed just 63 yards through the air and 156 of Manor’s 402 total yards after halftime.
Offensively, Brownwood reached the 50-point mark for the first time this season following a three-play, 28-yard drive that saw Derek Longoria receive all the carries, including his 2-yard scoring plunge. Longoria finished with 44 yards on five carries.
Following a 50-minute lightning delay prior to the opening kickoff, Manor used a 59-yard pass from Beecher to Donte Moore just 2:03 into the contest to produce the first points. Moore caught four passes for 128 yards, but turned an ankle late in the first half and was a non-factor in the second half due to his injury.
Trailing 6-0, the Lions took their first lead 13 seconds into the second quarter on a 12-yard pass from Pachall to Taylor. Miller added the extra point for a 7-6 Brownwood edge.
Earlier in the drive, the Lion offense was jump started on a 37-yard pass from Pachall to Miller. Pachall avoided two sacks on the play, then found Miller, who tapped down a toe while making a diving catch on the sidelines at the Mustang 21.
Manor answered with a six-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard Lawrence Roberts touchdown run. A Beecher to Daquan Roberts two-point conversion pushed the Mustangs back in front, 14-7, with 8:37 left in the half.
The Lions then regained the lead, 15-14, at the 2:53 juncture of the second period on a 23-yard Pachall run as Brownwood was facing a 3rd-and-17 situation. Hayden Hewitt scored a two-point conversion as he ran an option keeper out of his position as holder on the extra point.
Brownwood also received a late boost in the second quarter when Richard Lopez blocked a punt that was originally snapped over the head of Beecher.
The Lions took over at the Manor 31 and forged into the end zone three plays later when Pachall and Taylor made their eighth touchdown connection of the year from 9 yards away.
But Manor was able to pull even at halftime by running three plays after time expired. Brownwood - which finished with 15 penalties for 111 yards - was flagged for offsides and pass interference, which moved the ball from the Lion 21 to the 1. Beecher then scored on a 1-yard dive and Lawrence Roberts added the two-point conversion.
“The latter part of the first half we felt a strong thrust of momentum when we went up 22-14, then to go into the half in a tie ball game, we felt somewhat dejected,” Freeman said. “We had our head under our wing a little bit. We know things don’t just happen, you have to make them happen. The kids responded in the second half.’
The Lions (2-3), who snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory, will visit No. 7 Abilene Wylie (3-2) in the District 2-3A opener next week.