SNYDER — The 2018 high school football season is not off to the start the Brownwood Lions had envisioned.
On the heels of last week's 41-10 home loss to the Class 3A Division I No. 1 Brock Eagles, the Lions took to the road for the first time under head coach Sammy Burnett and were surprised by the 4A Division II Snyder Tigers, 31-21, Friday night.
Multiple self-inflicted wounds plagued the Lions at the most inopportune times, from dropped passes to special teams gaffes to double-digit penalties — most of which occurred on critical gains on the offensive side of the ball.
"Every time we had an opportunity on offense we either dropped the ball or had a penalty that brought us back and put us behind the chains," said Burnett, as the Lions are off to their first 0-2 start since 2013. "We never got clicking like we should and that's on us. We're just not executing. We're running on about two cylinders in a V8 engine and it just doesn't work that way.
"Defensively, we didn't get off the field when we needed to. We gave them some plays they shouldn't have got. That just goes back to the discipline part of it, we have to grow and get better and not many any excuses."
Brownwood (0-2) doubled its yardage output compared to Week 1, outgaining Snyder (2-0) in total offense 366 to 327, but the Lions were unable to finish a number of key drives.
The Lions were forced to play catch-up immediately as Snyder took the game's opening drive 70 yards in 13 plays before the Brownwood defense stiffened at the 2-yard line. A false start call against Snyder backed the Tigers up on fourth-and-goal, where Jorge Olivarez booted a 24-yard field goal as Brownwood trailed 3-0 at the 7:45 mark of the first period.
On Brownwood's first possession, a 25-yard carry by quarterback Tommy Bowden on the second play of the drive — which would have moved the ball inside the Snyder 30 — was negated due to a holding penalty, the first of 10 flags for 61 yards against the Lions.
Facing a first-and-20, the Lions were unable to move the chains. Then, on fourth-and-7, the snap sailed over the head of Bowden, who was in punt formation. Bowden was able to retrieve the ball and punt it, where it dribbled along the ground and hit a Snyder player 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Lions were unable to pounce on the ball, however, and Snyder began its second drive at the Brownwood 44.
Four plays later, Snyder quarterback Logan Greene — who completed 19 of 25 passes for 217 yards — hurled the first of his three scoring tosses to Jayden Samaniego from 25 yards out, and Brownwood faced a 10-0 deficit with 4:06 still remaining in the first period.
The Lions' next drive began on their own 12, and Brownwood moved the ball 64 yards to the Snyder 24. Faced with a fourth-and-3, Bowden — who completed 15 of 24 passes for 234 yards — fell victim to a sack which ended the scoring threat. Four plays prior, a 23-yard toss from Bowden to Zach Strong down to the Snyder 8 was wiped out by Brownwood's fourth flag.
A Theo Bryant sack on Snyder's ensuing possession resulted in a three-and-out for the Tigers, as Brownwood took the field for the third time from its own 20 midway through the second period.
The Lions picked up a pair of first downs on the drive, but an illegal procedure call and a slip on a screen pass that resulted in a 3-yard loss set Brownwood up with third-and-18 at its own 40. Bowden, after scrambling for a bit, was able to throw across his body down field to a wide open Strong — who had no defender within 20 yards — for a 60-yard scoring toss as the Lions closed the gap to 10-7 following Zack Smith's extra point with 2:05 left in the half. Strong led the Lions with 110 receiving yards on three catches.
As soon as Brownwood gained the momentum it was gone again as Snyder traveled 75 yards in seven plays as Greene connected with Jake Chavez on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left in the half to boost the Tigers' lead to 17-7. Chavez, who caught eight passes for 106 yards, also hauled in a 38-yard reception to move the ball to the Brownwood 19 on the possession.
"We had opportunities to get off the field defensively and we'd have a blown coverage, or we didn't fit where we're supposed to and we keep them on the field," Burnett said. "Tip of my hat to Snyder, they executed what they had to and they won. We just have to grow and get better."
Down 10 points at halftime, the Lions received the second half kickoff but punted the ball to Snyder after three plays. Brownwood's defense yielded one first down before forcing a Snyder punt, but the Lions muffed the punt at their own 21 and the Tigers recovered for the game's only turnover.
On the next snap, Green dumped a screen pass off to Julian Flores, who traveled 21 yards for a 24-7 Snyder lead with 7:22 to go in the third.
A.J. McCarty returned the ensuing Snyder kick to the Tiger 30 and six plays later — all runs — the Lions were in the end zone for the second time on a 1-yard dive by Hayden Tunnell, trimming the deficit to 24-14 at 4:56 of the third.
After the Lions forced the third Snyder punt, Brownwood took over at its own 25 and abandoned the spread offense in favor of the T formation. Joseph Johnson, who rushed for a team-high 54 yards, took the first carry 20 yards. Shortly thereafter, facing a fourth-and-6 at their own 47, the Lions momentarily returned to the spread, where Bowden attempted to hit Braden Jetton deep down the field. Snyder was flagged for pass interference, one of eight penalties for 60 yards against the Tigers, and the drive continued at the Snyder 36.
Back to the T formation, the Lions marched the ball down to the Snyder 9, where on fourth-and-4 it appeared Bowden had scrambled and thrown his second touchdown pass — but an ineligible man downfield penalty took away the points. Facing fourth-and-9 and at the 14, a 31-yard field goal attempt hooked left, and the Lions remained down 10 with 6:55 left.
"You have to take as they come and play the next play, but every time we had a positive play, a big play, something happened that brought it back for us," Burnett said. "It's our fault."
Snyder then delivered the fatal blow, an 80-yard, six-play drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by J.J. Burns, padding the Tigers' cushion to 31-14 with 3:29 remaining. Burns, who rushed for 86 yards on 12 attempts, had carries of 25 and 50 yards on the drive.
The Lions were able to tack on a final touchdown with 68 seconds left, as Bowden scored on a 5-yard run after passing 59 yards earlier in the possession. Brownwood was unable to recover the onside kick and the Tigers ran out the clock for their first victory over the Lions since 2011 — snapping an six-game drought.
"No excuses, Snyder played a great ball game, not taking anything away from them, but we have to find a way to get it done and we just didn't do it tonight," Burnett said. "Our kids didn't quit. I heard a lot of things from the kids blaming themselves and taking ownership in what's happening, we just have to grow and get better. Like I told them, the Lord has a plan and sometimes you have trials and you have to learn from those trials and press on and see what your character is and what your heart is because that's what He's looking for. That's all we can do is continue to work and continue to grow and if we do I think the good Lord will bless us at some point."
Brownwood's quest for its first win of the season, and the Burnett era, takes the Lions to Graham next week where the Steers (0-2) are also seeking their initial victory. Graham has opened the season with consecutive losses to Wichita Falls Hirschi, 43-29, and Mineral Wells, 34-21. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Brownwood 0 7 7 7 - 21
Snyder 10 7 7 7 - 31
S: Jorge Olivarez 24 FG, 7:45, 1st
S: Jayden Sameniego 25 pass from Logan Greene (Olivarez kick), 4:06, 1st
B: Zach Strong 60 pass from Tommy Bowden (Zack Smith kick), 2:05, 2nd
S: Jake Chavez 3 pass from Greene (Olivarez kick), 0:18, 2nd
S: Julian Flores 21 pass from Greene (Olivarez kick), 7:22, 3rd B: Hayden Tunnell 1 run (Smith kick), 4:56, 3rd
S: J.J. Burns 2 run (Olivarez kick), 3:29, 4th
B: Bowden 5 run (Smith kick), 1:08, 4th
First Downs 20 15
Total Offense 366 327
Rushing Yards 34-132 21-110
Passing Yards 234 217
C-A-I 15-24-0 19-25-0
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Punts 2-12.5 3-41.6
Penalties 10-61 8-60
B: Joseph Johnson 10-54, Tommy Bowden 13-52, A.J. McCarty 5-11, Hunter Leonard 4-9, Hayden Tunnel 2-6
S: J.J. Burns 12-86, Nathan Kendrick 1-16, Logan Greene 7-9, Julian Flores
B: Bowden 15-24-0-234
S: Greene 19-25-0-217
B: Braden Jetton 5-56, Zach Strong 3-110, Ben Kallman 3-41, McCarty 2-8,Grayson Swanzy 1-22, Khyren Deal 1-(-3).
S: Jake Chavez 8-106, Jayden Sameniego 4-47, Kendrick 4-25, Flores 1-21, Burns 1-21, Roland Morin 1-(-3).