WACO — The Brownwood Lions on Friday night experienced firsthand the explosiveness of the offense for the No. 2 Waco La Vega Pirates.
La Vega scored on its first seven possessions — including all six in the first half — en route to a 57-19 victory over the Lions Friday night, which locked up at least a share of the District 5-4A Division I championship with the victory.
The postseason fate of the Lions (4-4, 1-2), meanwhile, will come down to next week when they host the China Spring Cougars (4-5, 0-3) in the regular season finale at Gordon Wood Stadium.
If Brownwood is able to snap its two-game district skid the Lions are in the playoffs as the league’s third seed, assuming Gatesville (3-6, 1-2) falls to La Vega. A Brownwood loss to China Spring could ultimately result in a three-way tie for third place between the Lions, Cougars and Gatesville (3-6, 1-2) — which lost to Stephenville, 31-3, Friday night.
“We don’t want to worry about Gatesville and what happens with them, all I know is if we go out and beat China Spring next week we’re in the playoffs,” said Lions first-year head coach Sammy Burnett. “That’s what our goal has been from the get go. We wanted to win a district championship, of course that’s not going to happen, but we still have a chance to be bi-district champions and I want that for our kids, they’ve earned it. We just need to bounce back, be resilient, show good character, go to work and do what we can to get back in the win column next week.”
As for the Lions’ outing against La Vega, Brownwood yielded 537 yards of total offense, including 392 in the first half alone as the Pirates raced out to a 43-19 halftime edge.
La Vega sophomore running back Jar’quae Walton rushed for 203 yards and five touchdowns on just 11 carries, while Elisha Cummings tacked on 80 yards and two trips to the end zone as the Pirates amassed 390 rushing yards on 36 carries — an average of 10.8 yards per rush.
Pirate quarterback Ara Rauls completed 5 of 6 passes for 147 yards as Taequan Tyler caught three passes for 64 yards while Malachi Wright grabbed two receptions for 83 yards.
“Defensively, we just didn’t show up, “Burnett said. “We were concerned getting off the bus and during the pre-game. Coach (David) Jones and I were talking and things just seemed off, I don’t know what it was. We were finally able to get them off the field a couple of times in the second half, but we have to have more out of our defense than that. We laid an egg on defense tonight.”
Offensively, the Lions generated 433 yards of total offense —253 passing and 180 rushing — but couldn’t find the end zone outside of the second quarter.
Quarterback Tommy Bowden completed 18 of 35 passes for 253 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception, while rushing for a team-high 104 yards and another score.
Braden Jetton led the receiving corps with seven catches for 123 yards and a score, A.J. McCarty hauled in five catches for 82 yards and Khyren Deal rushed for 78 yards on just four carries.
“I thought our offensive line played pretty well,” Burnett said. “We were able to move the ball but we didn’t finish some drives in the red zone I felt we should have. It wasn’t for a lack of effort on the offense’s part, I thought they played OK.”
The Lions moved the ball to the La Vega 45 on the game’s first drive before punting the pigskin away. The Pirates then scored the first of their two opening-quarter touchdowns on an 11-yard run by Cummings. A 52-yard pass from Rawls to Wright set up the score.
A three-and-out on Brownwood’s second possession set up La Vega on its own 41 after a Lion punt, and six plays later Walton scored his first touchdown on a 6-yard carry as the Pirates opened a 14-0 edge at 4:31 of the first.
The Lions began a 48-point second quarter between the two teams by scoring their first touchdown on a 4-yard toss from Bowden to Ben Kallman, closing the gap to 14-6 just 49 seconds into the quarter, which capped a 14-play , 79-yard drive. Bowden completed a 9-yard pass to Hunter Leonard on a fourth-and-6 fake punt from the Lion 47 to keep the drive alive.
The Pirates answered in 2:15 as a 39-yard pass from Rauls to Tyler set up an 8-yard Walton touchdown run and a 21-6 La Vega lead with 9:56 left in the half.
The Lions fired back in three plays as Bowden connected with Jetton on third-and-11 for an 83-yard touchdown as Jetton broke away from the defense at midfield after pulling down a jump ball.
La Vega pushed the lead to 29-12 a mere 21 seconds later as Walton scored on a 64-yard sprint, then added the two-point conversion at 8:25 of the second quarter.
Brownwood’s Joseph Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the La Vega 19, but three plays later Bowden was picked off in the end zone by Donta Stuart, who returned the ball to the Lion 38. Four plays later, Walton’s 25-yard scamper increased La Vega’s cushion to 36-12.
The Lions answered with their final points of the night at the 3:48 mark of the second quarter, as Bowden scored on a 9-yard carry. Brownwood’s drive covered 59 yards in nine plays and started with a 27-yard Bowden run. Stuart’s second interception of Bowden at the La Vega 3 was overturned due to a roughing the passing call, and the Lions scored on the next snap.
La Vega tallied their final points of the second period 38 seconds after the Lions’ final score, as Walton scored from 56 yards out.
The Pirates opened the second half with their seventh straight scoring drive, which ended at 8:59 of the third on a 1-yard plunge by Cummings.
Then, just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter, La Vega notched the game’s final touchdown on a 22-yard jaunt by Daylon Williams.
“We have been sort of a typical first-year program,” Burnett said. “We have our ups and our downs and our inconsistencies.”
LA VEGA 57, BROWNWOOD 19
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Brownwood 0 19 0 0 - 19
La Vega 14 29 7 7 - 57
LV: Elisha Cummings 11 run (kick good), 7:58, 1st — 0-7
LV: Jar’quae Walton (kick good), 4:31, 1st — 0-14
B: Ben Kallman 4 pass from Tommy Bowden (kick failed), 11:11, 2nd (kick failed)
LV: Walton 8 run (kick good), 9:56, 2nd — 6-21
B: Braden Jetton 83 pass from Bowden (run failed), 8:46, 2nd — 12-21
LV: Walton 64 run (Walton run), 8:25, 2nd — 12-29
LV: Walton 25 run (kick good), 6:39, 2nd — 12-36
B: Bowden 9 run (Zack Smith kick), 3:48, 2nd — 19-36
LV: Walton 56 run (kick good), 3:10, 2nd — 19-43
LV: Cummings 1 run (kick good), 8:59, 3rd — 19-50
LV: Daylon Williams 22 run (kick good), 11:22, 4th — 19-57
First Downs 24 25
Total Offense 433 537
Rushing Yards 36-180 36-390
Passing Yards 253 147
C-A-I 18-35-1 5-6-0
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalties 1-10 6-53
Punts 3-27.6 2-39.5
B: Tommy Bowden 23-104, Khyren Deal 4-78, Reece Rodgers 5-3, Joseph Johnson 2-2, Clayton Bertrand 2-(-7).
L: Jar’quae Walton 11-203, Elijah Cummings 12-80, Daylon Williams 4-41, Ijoshawon Hamilton 4-28, Ara Rawls 3-23, Taequan Tyler 1-9, Demicco Chambliss 1-7.
B: Bowden 18-35-1-253.
L: Rawls 5-6-0-147.
B: Braden Jetton 7-123, AJ McCarty 5-82, Hunter Leonard 3-38, Rodgers 2-6, Ben Kallman 1-4.
L: Tyler 3-64, Malachi Wright 2-83.