Brownwood knocks off Merkel, Gatesville and Jim Ned in OT

The state-bound Brownwood Lions ran their win streak to five in 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament games as they swept the field in Pool B Saturday at their own event.

Having earned their 17th consecutive trip to the 7-on-7 state tournament last week in Gatesville, the Lions were limited to three games but came out on top in each — 47-13 over Merkel, 28-27 in overtime over Jim Ned and 47-6 over Gatesville.

“When you host a tournament you want to execute and play well for the home crowd and I thought our guys did a great job of that,” said Lions first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield, who observed Saturday's action.

Offensively, the Lions scored on 15 of 24 possessions in three games as quarterback McLane Moore connected on 53 of 81 passes with 12 touchdowns and one interception, off a deflection, while Clayton Bertrand completed 19 of 34 attempts with three scoring tosses.

Three Lions led the way with 13 receptions — Nick Salazar, who finished with a team-best five touchdowns; Corleone Pressley, who hauled in three scoring receptions; and Crystan Wright. Jeremy Brown chipped in eight grabs with three scores, Braden Jetton pulled seven receptions with a pair of touchdowns, Harley Price caught seven passes with a trip to the end zone, Jordan Ortega finished with six grabs, Gavin Jefferson added four and a score and Tristin Revada caught three passes.

Defensively, after intercepting 16 passes last week the Lions picked off just four Saturday, but returned three for touchdowns. Hunter Mares recorded two picks — returning one for six points while tossing a lateral to Dylan Hickey for another touchdown. Hayden Donahoo contributed a pick six as well while Kirk Vickers also tallied an interception.

As was the case a week ago, the Lions' biggest challenge came in their second pool game as Brownwood wasn't nearly as sharp as it was in the other two contests.

Moore completed 20 of 37 passes with four touchdowns and a pick, while Bertrand was just 3 of 9 as both quarterbacks were victimized by drops.

The Lions scored on just four of 10 drives and failed on the first two as Jim Ned grabbed an early 7-0 lead. Brownwood drew even at 7 on a Moore toss to Pressley while Brown hauled in the extra-point reception.

Jim Ned quickly regained a 13-7 edge while the Lions went three and one on their next possession. On the final play of the half, it appeared the Indians had opened a double-digit advantage, but a touchdown pass was waved off with a four-second call — the equivalent of a sack in 7-on-7.

The Lions then took the opening possession of the second half and grabbed their first lead, 14-13, as Moore hooked up with Salazar and Wright caught the go-ahead extra point.

Four possessions later — after two by Jim Ned and one by Brownwood — the Lions stretched the lead to 21-13 as Moore again found Salazar on a touchdown strike and Brown tacked on the extra point.

Jim Ned knotted the score at 21, and both teams had one additional drive to attempt to win the game in regulation, but came up short.

In the overtime session, Brownwood started with the ball and Moore connected with Jefferson for the touchdown, while Pressley caught the decisive extra point.

Jim Ned matched the touchdown, but failed on the two-point attempt as the Lions prevailed.

“The second game we struggled a little bit with some drops, but the quarterbacks made good calls and good reads,” Maxfield said. “It was really nice to see the way they competed at the end for the win.”

In the opener, the Lions coasted past Merkel, scoring on five of seven possessions.

Brownwood led 20-6 at halftime on scoring tosses by Moore — who was 16 of 22 with four touchdowns — to Brown, Pressley and Jetton.

Donahoo returned an interception for a touchdown to start the second half, Bertrand connected with Pressley for a touchdown, Mares followed with a pick six and Salazar hauled in a scoring toss from Moore to account for the second-half points.

In the finale, the Lions avenged a 36-14 loss to Gatesville last week with a 41-point thrashing.

Brownwood again led 20-6 at the break as Moore — who was 17 of 22 with four scoring strikes — hit Price and Brown for touchdowns in the first half, while Salazar caught a touchdown from Bertrand.

During the second half, Moore threw touchdowns to Salazar and Jetton while Bertrand also hooked up Salazar. The final points came after Mares picked off a pass and pitched it to Hickey, who scored.

“The first and last games we were clicking on all cylinders,” Maxfield said. “I think we scored on about 80 percent of the possessions.”

The Lions — who will compete in the 7-on-7 Division II state tournament July 7-8 in College Station — wrap up state qualifying tournament action next Saturday at Jim Ned. Maxfield stated a different looking Brownwood squad will likely make the trip northwest.

“We're going to rest some of the older guys and get some of the younger guys some reps,” Maxfield said.

In other 7-on-7 qualifying action Saturday, Early posted an 0-3 record at the Brownwood qualifier falling to Pool A winner Glen Rose, Ballinger and the JV Lions.

Stephenville and Glen Rose earned the two state qualifying berths.