Brownwood Lions let early lead slip away against Greenwood

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
The Brownwood Lions talk on the sideline during their season-opening game against Lampasas at Gordon Wood Stadium on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.

The Brownwood Lions held Midland Greenwood to one first down and 56 total yards during the first half Friday night. But in the third quarter, the Rangers exploded for 21 points and held on for a 21-20 win in Week 2 of the Texas high school football season.

Running back Aaron Fikes’ 21-yard touchdown run was the winning score, and it came one play after Greenwood recovered a fumble. Rance Purser kicked the extra point that gave the Rangers a 21-20 lead with 1:49 left in the third quarter.

Earlier in the third quarter, quarterback Ty Flowers broke scoring runs of 9 and 54 yards that rallied Greenwood from deficits of 13-0 at the half and 20-6 in the third quarter. Flowers’ 9-yard scoring run finished a 12-play, 80-yard drive that opened the second half and pulled the Rangers within 13-6 with 7:13 left in the third quarter.

Brownwood appeared to have rebounded after quarterback Chance Jones passed across the middle to Elias Huerta-Doud, who turned up field and got past a defender on the way to a 68-yard touchdown pass. The pass converted a third-and-20 and gave the Lions a 20-6 lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

But the game quickly came unraveled for Brownwood when Greenwood scored two touchdowns in 22 seconds to take the lead for good. Flowers broke a 54-yard touchdown run, and Fikes added a two-point conversion run out of the swinging gate formation as Greenwood rallied to within 20-14 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.

On the Lions’ first play after the ensuing kickoff, Jones fumbled and the Rangers recovered at the Brownwood 21-yard line. On the following play, Fikes ran around his end and scored on a 21-yard run that, combined with Purser’s extra-point kick, gave Greenwood its first lead at 21-20 with 1:49 left in the third period.

Brownwood’s next three possessions were stifled by penalties, including three for holding. The Lions had an excellent opportunity to reclaim the lead after Purser shanked a punt that netted only 1 yard. Starting from the Rangers’ 19, Konlyn Anderson ripped off a 9-yard run to the 5, but a holding penalty sent the Lions back to the 22.

Jones completed a 6-yard pass to Thad Hinds on second-and-14, but it was nullified by a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that pushed the Lions back to the Rangers’ 31 – some 12 yards behind where the possession had begun.

Third- and fourth-down passes by Jones fell incomplete, and Brownwood’s best chance to win game produced no points with 6:57 to play.

Greenwood expired the final 6:57 with a 15-play drive that gained four first downs and ended on the Brownwood 9. The Rangers converted three consecutive times on third down to keep the clinching drive alive, including Flowers runs of 8 and 12 yards.

“We didn’t execute,” Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett said on his postgame show on KOXE radio. “We had busted assignments up front, dropped passes and penalties.”

Anderson rushed for 125 yards, including a 26-yard score that staked the Lions to a 7-0 lead with 2:39 left in the first quarter. Jones and backup running back Jaylon Brown combined for 69 yards rushing.

Jones was 12-of-30 passing for 145 yards that included at least five dropped passes. Huerta-Doud finished with four receptions for 84 yards while Jason Jackson had four catches for 41 yards.

The Lions, who finished with 339 total yards, hurt themselves with 12 penalties for 112 yards.

Fikes rushed for 114 yards and Flowers added 113 yards to lead Greenwood’s offense. Flowers also passed for 88 yards.

Brownwood led 13-0 at halftime after a huge momentum-turning play from defensive end Cole Miller, a 225-pound sophomore, on a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown with just 53 seconds left before halftime. On the play, Flowers was chasing an errant shotgun snap and was trying to throw the ball away.

An errant snap on the extra-point kick left the Lions with a 13-0 halftime lead.

Brownwood’s other first-half touchdown came on Anderson’s 26-yard run that finished a 63-yard drive with 2:39 left in the first quarter. The nine-play drive included a pair of third-down conversions – a 7-yard screen pass from Jones to Anderson and a 10-yard pass from Jones to Hinds.

The Lions had an excellent chance to score again in the first half, but the Rangers’ defense threw up a goal-line stand on fourth-and-1. That drive began when the Lions recovered a muffed punt at the Rangers’ 38-yard line.

Runs by Anderson and backup Jaylon Brown totaling 20 yards moved the ball inside the 10, but Greenwood’s defense – led by linebacker Jimmy Vazquez – held on two consecutive downs at its 1-yard line.

“We use adversity to get better and to make men out of our players,” Burnett said. “The road doesn’t get any easier with China Spring next week. If we don’t show up and play well, they will embarrass us. If you don’t fight, you’re never going to win. We’ll go back to work Monday.”