Bulletin Staff Report
LAKE TRAVIS — At full strength for the first time this summer, the Brownwood Lions roared through pool play at the Lake Travis state qualifier Saturday and appeared on the verge of wrapping up their ninth straight trip to the 7-on-7 state tournament.
But an unlucky bounce in the closing seconds of Brownwood’s semifinals showdown with Round Rock McNeil kept the Lions out of the championship game, and still on the outside looking in when it comes to a trip to College Station July 13-14.
Round Rock McNeil — which went on to face fellow state qualifier Georgetown in the tournament championship game — snatched a 41-36 victory from Brownwood on the final play of the game as Lion defensive back Jason Maldonado batted down a ball into the waiting arms of a Maverick receiver.
Brownwood had grabbed a 36-35 lead in the back-and-forth encounter with less than a minute remaining. Casey Pachall connected with Travis Holleman for the tying touchdown, then the Lions converted the one-point extra-point to forge ahead.
Aside from the final snap of the day, the Lions had an otherwise stellar outing in just their second tournament of the summer.
Brownwood received a boost with seven members of the roster — Maldonado, Parker Taylor, Jarrod Howey, Jacob Allen, Collin Seale, Garrett Goodwin and Shelby Miller — making their debuts following the baseball team’s run to the Region II-4A semifinals.
With the roster fully intact, the Lions easily improved on the 20.7 points per game they averaged at the Round Rock state qualifier on May 26.
Brownwood started the day with an easy 41-18 victory over Mission in the Eagles’ first 7-on-7 state qualifying game of the summer.
The Lions then handed state qualifier and Round Rock tournament champion Lake Travis its first defeat in 10 qualifying games, 26-21.
Brownwood earned its spot in the semifinals with a 37-22 victory over Round Rock Westwood in the pool play finale. Westwood defeated the Lions, 27-14, in Round Rock two weeks ago.
“Overall it was a good day for us and we played pretty well,” said Lions secondary coach Andy Howard.
Among Saturday’s individual standouts, Howard noted Pachall, Taylor and Chris Munson had solid days offensively. Defensively, Kenny Vaccaro returned a couple of interceptions for touchdowns.
The Lions — who are now 5-2 this summer — have two chances left to qualify for the state tournament. Brownwood will compete in the Abilene state qualifier on Saturday before hosting its own tournament on June 23.