WACO — From four wins to three rounds deep in the playoffs, the Brownwood Lions made significant strides forward during head coach Sammy Burnett's second season in charge of his alma mater.
But as the old adage goes, all must good things must come to an end, and for the 2019 Lions — who spent most of the year ranked in the Top 10 and earned a pair of postseason victories — their season reached its conclusion Friday afternoon at Baylor University's McLane Stadium in the Class 4A Division I Region II semifinals against the unbeaten Argyle Eagles.
Ranked No. 1 state in multiple polls, the Eagles lived up to the billing with a 42-14 triumph over the Lions, who wrapped up their season with an 11-2 overall record.
Argyle (13-0) moves on to face La Vega (12-1) — which the Eagles defeated, 49-35, in Week 2 — for the regional championship next week. Brownwood's two losses came at the hands of Argyle and La Vega.
“We're not an elite team yet, we lost to the two elite teams, Argyle and La Vega, but we're going to get there,” said Lions assistant head coach David Jones, who again served in the head coach role on the field as Burnett continues his recovery from abdominal surgery. “It's not our kids' fault that we're not (elite), they've given every bit of effort that they could to this program. We're glad to coach them, we're happy to have them, we're proud of their effort, and we love every one of them.”
Argyle's size and depth proved too much for the Lions to overcome.
The Eagles finished with 488 yards of total offense — 290 rushing and 198 passing — with no turnovers. Meanwhile, the Lions generated 343 yards — 219 on the ground and 124 through the air — but mustered just two touchdowns, turned the ball over once and missed a field goal attempt.
“We did some good things offensively, but they're averaging 55 points a game and you have to put points on the board when you have a chance, and 14's not going to do it against those guys,” Jones said. “From a defensive standpoint, it felt like a leaky dyke and you're trying to plug all the holes and you don't have enough fingers. We adjusted and tried everything we knew to do and threw the kitchen sink at them, bottom line is that's a really good football team with a lot of weapons and they're hard to stop.”
Luke Farris rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns to spark the Argyle offense, while quarterback Bo Hogeboom connected on 13 of 18 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Knox Scoggins chipped in 84 yards rushing, a 33-yard touchdown pass to Cade Merka and two receptions for 53 yards. Cole Kirkpatrick hauled in six catches for 76 yards with a touchdown, and Merka grabbed three receptions for 49 yards and scored once.
For Brownwood, Reece Rodgers rushed for 194 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, giving him 1,902 yards and 28 touchdowns for the season. Quarterback Drew Huff connected on 13 of 27 passes for 108 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and rushed for 35 yards. Huff threw for 2,101 yards with 19 touchdowns and three picks while rushing for 716 yards and nine scores in 2019. A.J. McCarty caught a team-high four passes for 20 yards to finish with 44 receptions for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns. Zach Strong grabbed three receptions for 50 yards and caught 19 passes for 337 yards and three scores overall, while Dane Johnson hauled in two receptions for 16 yards and finished with 23 receptions for 286 yards and two scores on the year.
Defensively, linebackers Cooper Swanzy, Rowdee Gregory and Damion Jones tallied nine tackles apiece, while safety Khyren Deal chipped in eight. Swanzy finished with a team-high 108 tackles on the season, Gregory added 103 including 14.5 for loss and Deal notched 100 tackles.
The Lions went three-and-out to open the game, and Argyle's two-play, 42-yard drive to start the contest ended with a 33-yard halfback pass from Scoggins to Merka for a touchdown and 7-0 Eagle lead just 1:25 into the contest.
Brownwood sputtered again on its second drive and punted the ball away to Argyle, which advanced to the Lion 13 before failing to convert a fourth-and-8 pass play.
The Lions responded with a 10-play, 87-yard drive the began with a 23-yard Rodgers run, and ended with a 21-yard scoring sprint from Rodgers that knotted the score at 7, following a Strong extra point with 40 seconds left in the opening period. Brownwood kept the drive alive with a 12-yard pass from Huff to Strong on fourth-and-4 at the Argyle 46, and a 9-yard toss from Huff to McCarty on third-and-6 at the Eagle 30.
Argyle immediately answered, beginning a run of 28 straight points as Farris scored on a 1-yard dive with 10:38 left in the second period, capping a nine-play, 75-yard trek.
Brownwood's next possession ended with a Jake Sullivan pick of Huff at the Eagle 46.
After a nine-play drive, the Eagles again came away without points deep in Brownwood territory as the Lions secured a fourth-down stop at their own 26.
Huff then connected with Strong on a 25-yard pass to start the ensuing drive, and Rodgers followed with a 20-yard carry before the drive stalled at the Argyle 26. Strong, whose 34-yard field goal against Alvarado propelled the Lions into the third round, was wide right on a 43-yard effort with 3:20 left in the half.
Argyle then milked the clock before scoring with 26 seconds left in the half, as Farris' 1-yard run capped a eight-play scoring drive that began with a 50-yard sprint by Scoggins to the Brownwood 21.
Down 21-7 at the half, the Lions forced Argyle's only punt on the initial possession of the second half. Brownwood went three-and-out on offense, however, and Farris' 55-yard run set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hogeboom to Kirkpatrick to boost the lead to 28-7 with 4:53 left in the third,
Brownwood's next drive appeared to have reached the Argyle 21, but an offensive pass interference call wiped out a 31-yard pass from Huff to Johnson. The Lions, instead, were forced to punt on fourth-and-23, and moments later Hogeboom connected with Scoggins on a 54-yard pass that set up Farris' 3-yard touchdown run for a 35-7 Eagle lead on the first play of the fourth period.
The Lions tallied their final points of the season with 9:10 left in the game as Huff threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Gregory on fourth-and-goal. Rodgers advanced an option carry 61 yards to the Argyle 3 to set up the touchdown, which followed a false start against Brownwood — one of seven penalties for 60 yards.
Argyle scored its final touchdown with 5:49 left as Farris again reached the end zone from 5 yards out, capping a seven-play, 51-yard drive after Brownwood's onside kick attempt.
Reflecting on the season, Jones said, “Who would have thought we would be where we are right now? Our kids believed in our coaches and our coaches believed in our kids. We talk to them in offseason all the time that you're going to end up in a big stadium on Saturday afternoon and in a meaningful ball game and here we are, and there's a lot more of those that are going to happen in our future. We're excited about that.”
Friday's game concluded the high school careers for 21 Lion seniors, who played a pivotal role in the program's resurgence in 2019.
“This senior class has done all that we've asked and we couldn't have asked for more,” Jones said. “You just go down the list, it's a true team and we just love them. They're true Brownwood Lions.”
ARGYLE 42, LIONS 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Argyle 7 14 7 14 -42
Brownwood 7 0 0 7 - 14
A: Cade Merka 33 pass from Knox Scoggins (Caden Dodson kick), 10:35, 1st
B: Reece Rodgers 21 run (Zach Strong kick), 0:40, 1st
A: Luke Farris 1 run (Dodson kick), 10:38, 2nd
A: Farris 1 run (Dodson kick) 0:26, 2nd
A: Cole Kirkpatrick 13 pass from Bo Hogeboom (Dodson kick), 4:53, 3rd
A: Farris 3 run (Dodson kick), 11:56, 4th
B: Rowdee Gregory 6 pass from Drew Huff (Strong kick), 9:10, 4th
A: Farris 4 run (Dodson kick), 5:49, 4th
TEAM STATS A B
First downs 24 16
Total offense 488 343
Rushing yards 42-290 28-219
Passing yards 198 124
C-A-I 14-19-0 14-28-1
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalties 7-60 4-25
Punts 4-35.5 1-35.0
Rushing — A: Luke Farris 25-210, Knox Scoggins 15-84, Chase Wohnoska 1-7, Bo Hogeboom 1-(-11). B: Reece Rodgers 19-194, Drew Huff 9-35.
Passing — A: Hogeboom 13-18-0-1-65, Scoggins 1-1-0-33. B: Huff 13-27-1-0-108, A.J. McCarty 1-1-0-16.
Receiving — A: Cole Kirkpatrick 6-76, Cade Merka 3-49, Scoggins 2-53, Alex Gonzales 2-12, Farris 1-8. B: McCarty 4-20, Zach Strong 3-50, Rodgers 3-6, Dane Johnson 2-16, Huff 1-16, Rowdee Gregory 1-6.