If fans were unaware it was Friday the 13th before they arrived at Gordon Wood Stadium, they had to have realized it by the time they departed.
In a game that featured 906 yards of total offense, 51 first downs, five turnovers, eight lead changes — all of which occurred in the second half — and four touchdowns in the final four minutes, the Brownwood Lions prevailed with a 46-43 homecoming victory over the Snyder Tigers.
The win was the first for the Lions under first-year head coach Chuck Howard, who stated he had never been associated with such a wild game in his 25 years in the business.
“When I was at Coppell with Bob (Shipley), we beat Southlake Carroll in triple overtime and there were I think six lead changes and the game was in the 50s,” Howard said. “But never eight lead changes.
“I’ll absolutely remember this, but it’s not about me. I’m excited, yes, but I’m more excited for the kids because I know how hard they’ve worked, I know how important this is to them and how they want to represent their community extremely well. We’re going to continue to work to get better, but I’m so proud of the way they fought tonight.”
Trailing 43-39 with 1:41 remaining, the Lions (1-2) traveled 66 yards in just 63 seconds as Journey Buitron’s 1-yard dive with 38 seconds left resulted in the decisive touchdown. The drive began with a 54-yard pass from quarterback Chris Keesee — who connected on 25 of 35 pass attempts for 423 yards with four touchdowns — to freshman Connor Howard — who grabbed eight receptions for 200 yards with three trips to the end zone.
“That was the craziest game, but it feels so great to come out on the winning side,” Keesee said. “It’s the greatest type of game you can play.
“(The last pass) to Connor was really important. We needed a big play to get us going again because some people might have been losing hope. But my linemen blocked and gave me just enough time and Connor made a huge catch and got us down there.”
Following an 11-yard jet sweep by Kaimon Ontiveros, Buitron finished off the drive on the next play.
Snyder (0-3) — which has lost its three games by a total of five points — began its final drive at its own 18 and advanced to the Brownwood 38 with two seconds left. Following a Tiger timeout, the final snap of the game sailed over the head of Snyder backup quarterback Kodi Maxfield, which resulted in a 17-yard loss to end the game.
“I don’t know where to start,” Coach Howard said. “I’m so excited for them to get the win. A lot of people just don’t believe in them, and I really don’t know how much they believed in themselves. We just tell them they have to believe in who they are and what we’re trying to do. We’re overcoming some things and we’re going to get to where we need to be.”
The Lions, who finished with 466 yards of total offense, jumped out to a 15-0 first-quarter lead and clung to an 18-15 advantage at halftime before the fireworks began.
Brownwood took the opening kick of the second half from its own 35 to the Snyder 11 before a poor snap resulted in a fumble Tiger Felix Martinez scooped up and returned to the Lion 5. Two plays later, D’Vincent Allison, who rushed for 162 of Snyder’s 278 yards on the ground, scored from 1 yard out to give the Tigers their first lead, 22-18, at the 7:23 mark of the third period.
The Lions answered immediately as Bryan Johnson took the Snyder kick 93 yards, breaking a tackle at midfield, for a touchdown to push Brownwood back in front, 24-22, with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
Snyder, which generated 440 yards of total offense, came back with an eight-play, 59-yard march and grabbed a 29-24 lead at the 4:44 mark of the third period on a 5-yard run by Allison, an advantage the Tigers carried into the fourth period.
Brownwood’s next drive stalled at the Snyder 30 after an apparent touchdown catch was dropped inside the Tiger 10, but the Lions recovered a Snyder fumble — one of three by the Tigers — on the first play of the fourth period at the Brownwood 46. Two plays later, Keesee and Howard hooked up on a 54-yard scoring toss and the Lions were back in front, 32-29, with 11:35 to go.
The Lions maintained their lead until Snyder struck for a 37-yard touchdown pass from Skillet Rhinehart — who also rushed for 132 yards — to Martinez at the 3:40 mark.
Down 36-32, the Lions needed just five plays to travel 59 yards and reclaim the lead. A 35-yard pass from Keesee to Ontiveros, followed by a 12-yard Howard reception set up a 10-yard connection from Keesee to Howard at the two-minute mark, making the score 39-36 in favor Brownwood.
Snyder fielded a short kick at its own 43, and two plays later the Tigers were back in the end zone, and in front 43-39, on a 42-yard scamper by Allison.
But the Tigers left 1:41 on the clock, which proved to be plenty of time for the Lions to snatch the victory.
“This is huge,” Keesee said of the victory. “We needed a win. The first two games were tough against good teams. I think this will help our confidence a lot.”
Added Howard, “This game was so ugly tonight in a lot of areas, but there were also so many great plays. What I am most proud of is we could have laid down on at least three or four occasions, but every time we rose to the occasion. We’re happy to have a victory and I know our fans are proud of the kids and the way they fought.”
The Lions will attempt to even their season record next week at Abilene Wylie, which is coming off a loss to state-ranked Graham.
LIONS 46, SNYDER 43
Snyder 0 15 14 14 - 43
Brownwood 15 3 7 21 - 46
B: Isaac Sanchez 10 pass from Chris Keesee (Abraham Oviedo kick), 9:35, 1st
B: Connor Howard 38 pass from Keesee (Kaimon Ontiveros run), 1:51, 1st
S: D’Vincent Allison 17 run (Chance Reneau kick), 10:22, 2nd
B: Oviedo 23 FG, 6:30, 2nd
S: Felix Martinez 40 pass from Skillet Rhinehart (Reneau kick), 0:19, 2nd
S: Rhinehart 1 run (Reneau kick), 7:23, 3rd
B: Bryan Johnson 93 kick return (kick failed), 7:08, 3rd
S: Allison 5 run (Reneau kick), 4:44, 3rd
B: Howard 54 pass from Keesee (Howard pass from Keesee), 11:35, 4th
S: Martinez 37 pass from Rhinehart (Reneau kick), 3:40, 4th
B: Howard 10 pass from Keesee (Oviedo kick), 2:00, 4th
S: Allison 42 run (Reneau kick), 1:41, 4th
B: Journey Buitron 1 run (Oviedo kick), 0:38, 4th
First Downs 27 24 Total Offense 440 466 Rushes-Yards 41-278 30-43
Passing Yards 176 423
C-A-I 11-16-0 26-35-0
Fumbles Lost 3 2
Penalties 6-35 8-61
Punts 2-28.0 1-39.0
S: D’Vincent Allison 24-162, Skillet Rhinehart 15-132
B: Journey Buitron 10-45, Kaimon Ontiveros 3-18; Bryan Johnson 2-12; Carson Cloy 7-7; Chris Keesee 8-(-25).
S: Rhinehart 11-16-0-176
B: Keesee 26-35-0-423
S: Felix Martinez 3-85, Jonathan Garcia 3-46
B: Connor Howard 8-200, Buitron 4-24, Carson Cloy 3-33, Matt Gomez 2-46, Ontiveros 2-41, Johnson 2-39, Ceth Hardy 2-26, Isaac Sanchez 1-10, Brandon Diaz 1-4.