With their season on the line, the Brownwood Lions lined up and proceeded to run over, around and through the Snyder Tigers for 48 minutes en route to a playoff-clinching 49-14 victory in Friday night’s home finale at Gordon Wood Stadium.
“I’m just so proud of our players,” said Lions second-year head coach Chuck Howard. “For seven weeks we played so hard and we were all disappointed in Week 8. We had so many kids out and we lost some more early in this game, but I’m so proud of the way they came out and fought and played hard. We have so many guys playing out of position, we called up four more sophomores this week and I thought they did a great job. Obviously there are some things to clean up, but I’m proud of these players.”
Needing a victory to extend their string of consecutive postseason appearances to six, the Lions (5-4, 1-2) racked up 481 yards of total offense in Friday’s home finale — with 366 yards coming on the ground.
“That’s something we’ve been talking about for two years,” Howard said of Brownwood’s punishing ground game. “We want to be blue collar football team that’s able to line up, run the football and smash people. We challenged the players all week, that was our game plan going in. We wanted to line up, run the football and control the clock.
Behind the blocking of Michael Livingston, Kory Owen, Ryan Lewis, Justin Price, Kutter Allgood and others, the Lions averaged 9.4 yards per carry. Harley Price finished with a career-high 193 yards and three touchdowns, quarterback Colt Bertrand rushed for 86 yards in the first half alone, Bruce Sterling chipped in 54 yards and a score and Grant Lewis added 33 yards with a trip to the end zone.
“It’s demoralizing when a team can line up and run it down someone’s throat and there’s nothing you can do,” Howard said.
Brownwood attempted just five passes the entire night, but completed four for 115 yards and a touchdown.
But the Lions lost Bertrand on the final play of the first half following a sack, and running back/cornerback Triston Duque was knocked out of the game on the opening kick as the injury bug continued to feast on Brownwood.
“We’ll find out more about them tomorrow or Monday, right now we don’t know,” Howard said. “Obviously those are two guys who are a big part of our game plan, but we had other guys who stepped in and did a great job. Our players never got down, it’s always the next man up for us. Somebody has to step in and perform.”
The Lions defense yielded 410 total yards to Snyder (2-8, 0-4), including 260 rushing, but forced a pair of turnovers and delivered a goal line stand in the third period as Snyder failed to score despite a first-and-goal at the Brownwood 2. Ben Barrera rushed for 135 yards and quarterback Kodi Maxfield added 129 on the ground to go along with 150 yards passing to ignite the Tiger offense.
“Snyder is a very good offense and I’m not sure what the stats look like and honestly, I really don’t care. I just know we held them to 14 points and I’m proud of that,” Howard said. “We were disappointed after the first drive when they drove the field and scored. That was bad execution on our part, we weren’t squeezing and guys weren’t taking their responsibilities, but we got that cleaned up. Now we’ll go back to work tomorrow and get ready for Big Spring.”
Snyder drove 61 yards in seven plays to open the game, as Barrera scored on a 3-yard carry to push the Tigers in front, 7-0, with 8:53 left in the first period.
Brownwood answered with a 78-play, 11-yard march as Price scored his first touchdown on a 3-yard carry, and Lewis chipped in the two-point try as the Lions seized an 8-7 lead they would never relinquish. Lewis caught a 36-yard pass from Bertrand to move the ball to Snyder 35 to kick start the march.
The Lions’ next drive lasted just one play as Price broke free for a 79-yard touchdown sprint, and Lewis tossed a two-point pass to Hayden Day as Brownwood’s lead grew to 16-7 with 9:50 left before halftime.
Brownwood’s next possession lasted two plays as Bertrand connected with Rylee Gregory on a 63-yard post pattern as the Lions extended their advantage to 22-7 with 6:21 left in the first half.
“They were loading the box and that was a great call by (offensive coordinator) Coach (Bryce) Monsen,” Howard said. “Rylee was singled up and we felt like we could beat them on a post and we did. It was a great throw by Colt and a great catch by Rylee. We have to be able to do those types of things when they load the box on us.”
The Lions moved 80 yards in just five plays on their next drive as a Bertrand 52-yard run set the stage for Price’s 4-yard touchdown carry, which boosted Brownwood’s edge to 29-7 with 2:01 to go in the second period.
Snyder scored before the end of the half, traveling 51 yards in seven plays before Maxfield reached the end zone on an 8-yard run to cut Brownwood’s lead to 29-14 at halftime.
The third period began with a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown by Sterling, who dropped the ball at first, but picked up the pigskin and followed a convoy of blockers to the end zone.
Brownwood’s goal line stand occurred with 2:54 left in the third period after Snyder marched 59 yards to the Lion 2. On fourth-and-goal at the 3, Lewis ran down a scrambling Maxfield and knocked him out of bounds inside the 1.
The Lions followed with a 10-play, 99-yard trek — all on the ground — that ended with a 8-yard touchdown run by Lewis with 9:11 to go.
Brownwood scored once more with 1:42 remaining on a 12-yard carry by Sterling, capping a four-play, 54-yard drive.
The Lions also forced both their turnovers in the fourth period as Trent Carlton and Eli Heywood pounced on fumbles.
Playoff-bound Brownwood will close its regular season at Big Spring (6-2, 2-1), which is coming off a 49-6 loss to District 3-4A Division I leader Abilene Wylie (7-2, 3-0).
Lions 49, Snyder 14
Snyder 7 7 0 0 - 14
Brownwood 8 21 7 13 - 49
S: Ben Barrera 3 run (Chance Reneau kick), 8:53, 1st
B: Harley Price 4 run (Grant Lewis run), 3:27, 1st
B: Price 79 run (Hayden Day pass from Lewis), 9:50, 2nd
B: Rylee Gregory 63 pass from Colt Bertrand (kick blocked), 6:21, 2nd
B: Price 4 run (Abraham Oviedo kick), 2:01, 2nd
S: Kodi Maxfield 8 run (Reneau kick), 0:39, 2nd
B: Bruce Sterling 96 kick return (Oviedo kick), 11:44, 3rd
B: Lewis 8 run (Oviedo kick), 9:11, 4th
B: Sterling 12 run (kick blocked), 1:42, 4th
First Downs 22 20
Total Offense 410 481
Rushes-Yards 38-260 39-366
Passing Yards 150 115
C-A-I 13-19-0 4-5-0
Fumbles Lost 2 0
Penalties 7-78 8-78
Punts 4-39.0 2-35.5
S: Ben Barrera 19-135, Kodi Maxfield 16-129. B: Harley Price 20-193, Colt Bertrand 8-86, Bruce Sterling 4-54, Grant Lewis 7-33.
S: Maxfield 13-19-0-150. B: Bertrand 3-4-0-117, Lewis 1-1-0-(-2).
S: Abram Smith 5-45, Taylor Munkres 5-43, Jaden Zamora 2-29. B: Rylee Gregory 2-81, Lewis 1-36, Cody Richardson 1-(-2).