Better days are ahead for the Brownwood Lions.
In their debut under new head coach Sammy Burnett, the first former Lion player to lead the program, Brownwood was dealt a 41-10 loss by the Class 3A Division I No. 1 Brock Eagles Friday evening at Gordon Wood Stadium in a game nationally televised by Fox Sports Southwest.
The smothering 10-1 defense of Brock, coupled with five new starters on the offensive line for Brownwood, resulted in just 179 yards of total offense for the Lions — including 41 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“Brock controlled the game up front in the trenches and I knew that might be an issue for us,” Burnett said. “But our kids fought hard, never quit and showed character and that's improvement for us. We're going to go back to the drawing board, we're going to work with our front five and we're going to get better every week so when we have the opportunity to step into district we're going to be where we need to be.”
As for the opportunity for Brownwood to be showcased on a Fox Sports Southwest broadcast, Burnett said, “It was absolutely amazing. I've been doing this for 25 years, I've been to state championships, and I don't think it was as awesome as it was tonight with our fans and the community. I thank Fox and everybody with Fox Sports Southwest because people got to see what football means in Brownwood. You could look up at the end of the game in the stands and they were all still here, and that's a testament to them and the support they have for our kids and community.”
After the two teams traded points on their initial possessions — a touchdown for Brock and a field goal for Brownwood — neither team scored again until the final play from scrimmage in the first half. A touchdown for the Eagles began a run of 34 straight points, which the Lions eventually ended in the final two minutes with their lone touchdown.
“The score is not indicative of how our kids played,” Burnett said. “Our kids' attitudes right now are positive because they felt like they left it all on the field. That's all I ask them to do, do the best you can, use the talent you have and leave it on the field and they did that.”
Brock compiled 369 yards of total offense, but was limited to 126 yards over the first two periods. The Eagles' play-action passing game came to life in the final two periods where Brock threw for 134 of its 166 yards. On the ground, Brock finished with 203 rushing yards on 40 carries.
“Other than a couple of big plays they made, which was a lack of discipline on our part, we hit them in the mouth at what they enjoy best which is smash-mouth,” Burnett said. “We were aggressive on defense, and I'm extremely pleased with our defense.”
Brock took the opening possession of the game 71 yards in 13 yards, and the drive was prolonged on a pass interference call on fourth-and-10 at the Brownwood 28 — one of just six flags for 50 yards against the Lions. The Eagles were whistled 11 times for 84 yards.
Three plays later, Toby Morrison — who rushed for a game-high 112 yards on 18 carries — scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns on a 1-yard plunge with 5:05 left in the opening quarter.
The Lions responded with their own 13-play trek to the Brock 1 — thanks to a 29-yard completion from Tommy Bowden to Grayson Swanzy on fourth-and-19. At the Brock 1, illegal procedure and delay of game penalties backed up the Lions, as did the Eagles barreling through the Brownwood offensive front. Instead of six points, the Lions settled for a 32-yard field goal from Zack Smith, shaving the deficit to 7-3 on the first snap of the second period.
“That's a good football team we just played with a very good defense,” Burnett said. “They're moving and slanting so many directions with people from all over the place. When you're new up front I knew that was going to give us some fits.”
The teams traded punts the rest of the quarter until an 18-yard boot set up Brock at the Brownwood 43 with 2:45 left in the half. Brock whittled the clock down to one second before eventually scoring on a fourth-and-goal quarterback sneak by Tripp Jones.
The second half began with a three-and-out for the Lions, while Brock needed just two plays before Jones — who completed 5 of 9 passes for 166 yards and three scores — connected with Takota Taylor for a 53-yard strike and 21-3 lead just 3:15 into the third period.
Brock extended its lead to 27-3 with 35 seconds left in the third as a 44-yard scamper by Morrison pushed the ball to the Lion 19. Six plays later, Morrison was back in the end zone again from 1 yard out.
Following yet another Brownwood three-and-out, Brock needed just one play to travel 61 yards as Jones found tight end Baylor Cupp, a Texas A&M commit, wide open for a 34-3 edge.
Jones completed his final scoring toss with 2:50 left, connecting with Jake Teskey from 20 yards away.
The Lions' final possession consisted of a four-play, 64-yard trek aided by personal four and pass interference calls. Of Brownwood's 11 first downs, three occurred on the final drive and two via penalty. Bowden — who completed 6 of 19 passes for 138 yards and rushed for 38 yards despite being sacked six times — found the end zone from 2 yards out, and Smith's extra point capped the scoring.
“This wasn't because of a lack of effort, we tried hard, we're just at a spot right now where they may be on step 10 and we're on step one on that ladder,” Burnett said in assessing the final outcome. “We just have to keep growing and developing our team and we'll get there.”
Brownwood will attempt to bounce back next when it visits former district rival Snyder (1-0), which defeated Littlefield, 27-13, Friday night. The game will be the first of three straight on the road for the Lions, with dates at Graham and Wichita Falls Rider to following before hosting Abilene Wylie for homecoming in the pre-district finale.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Brock: Toby Morrison 1 run (Tatum Saathoff kick), 5:05, 1st
Bwd: Zack Smith 32 FG, 11:55, 2nd
Brock: Tripp Jones 1 run (Saathoff kick), 0:01, 2nd
Brock: Takota Taylor 53 pass from Jones (Saathoff kick), 9:45, 3rd
Brock: Morrison 1 run (kick blocked), 0:35, 3rd
Brock: Baylor Cupp 61 pass from Jones (Saathoff kick), 11:04, 4th
Brock: Jake Teskey 20 pass from Jones (Saathoff kick), 2:50, 4th
Bwd: Tommy Bowden 2 run (Smith kick), 1:40, 4th
Brock: Toby Morrison 18-112, Jake Teskey 8-43, Tripp Jones 8-24, Tommy Merrill 1-16, Jesse Hallmark 1-6, Hunter Bramblett 4-2
Bwd: Tommy Bowden 18-38, Joseph Johnson 6-4, A.J. McCarty 3-(-1).
Brock: Jones 5-9-0-166.
Bwd: : Bowden 6-19-0-138
Brock: Teskey 2-27, Baylor Cupp 1-61, Takota Taylor 1-53, Merrill 1-25.
Bwd: McCarty 3-52, Zach Strong 1-40, Grayson Swanzy 1-29, Braden Jetton 1-17.