Breckenridge runs past Early to improve to 2-0 in district

Carson Field
Abilene Reporter-News
Quarterback Chase Lehr scrambles from an Early defender on Oct. 15, 2021.

EARLY – With less than a minute left in the first half, Breckenridge had its back against the wall.

Leading 24-8, the Buckaroos were in need of a stop to head to the locker room to maintain their two-score lead over Early. The Longhorns had the ball at the 11-yard line after back-to-back big plays.

When needed most, the Buckaroos' defense stood tall. They stymied Early, giving up just six yards on four plays and forcing a turnover on downs as time expired in the half.

"It gave us a chance to get in some rhythm," Breckenridge coach Casey Pearce said. "Stops in this district are huge. Being able to get that stop to end the first half changed the whole complexion of the ball game."

Once play resumed, the Buckaroos didn't look back. Breckenridge sailed to a 37-20 win.

Alexis Franco attempts to strip the ball from Early's John-Stewart Gordon on Oct. 15, 2021.

Breckenridge scored touchdowns on every one of its drives, except for the last two. The Buckaroos punted just once the entire game, and that was late in the fourth quarter when they held a comfortable lead.

Several weapons stood out in the Buckaroos' offensive explosion.

Behind center, quarterback Chase Lehr was efficient. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. His top target was Anson Rodgers, who caught five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

And in the backfield, Jerry Lawson was a juggernaut. The 240-pound back was key in third- and fourth-and-short situations, helping the Buckaroos move the chains 17 times.

Adrian Ruiz breaks up a pass in the end zone while defending Early receiver Jeremy Brown on Oct. 15, 2021.

He ran for 60 yards and two touchdowns and also scored on a 44-yard touchdown reception.

"He's hard to stop," Pearce said. "I wouldn't want to tackle him."

Early coach Daniel Price said he was pleased with the Longhorns' game plan in regards to stopping Lawson.

"He's a good football player and goes downhill really hard," Price said. "Preparing for a good running back, I thought we had a good plan but just missed a few tackles."

Despite the final 17-point margin, the Longhorns' offense played well overall. 

In his first career start replacing the injured Jaxyn Price, quarterback Tucker Hale completed 17 of 28 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. His longest haul of the night was for 45 yards in the first quarter.

"I'm very proud of Tucker [Hale]," Coach Price said. "I was really pleased with how he threw the ball and ran the offense."

Early receiver Ki Houston makes a touchdown reception on Oct. 15, 2021 against Breckenridge.

While the Longhorns moved the ball well and sustained several lengthy drives, they turned the ball over on downs three times. In addition to stingy defense in the trenches from Breckenridge, the Longhorns committed a handful of costly penalties, 

"We came up short a couple of times and it could've been a different score," Coach Price said. "Couldn't get out of our own way tonight."

Breckenridge now sits 3-4 overall and is off to a 2-0 start to District 3-3A Division I play. After a brutal non-conference slate that included losses to Cisco and Holliday, Pearce feels that his team is well prepared to build on its recent success.

Breckenridge receiver Zeke Castillo makes a touchdown catch on Friday, Oct. 15 against Early.

"We're finally finishing our games," Pearce said. "Finishing is what we've been lacking. We're headed in the right direction, but there's a lot to go."

For Early (5-2, 0-2), this two-game skid is a wake-up call after the Longhorns started the year 5-0.

"We have to find a way to re-focus and get our swagger back," Coach Price said. "You didn't see our best effort tonight. When you do that against a good football team, you lose."

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Game summary

Turning point: Breckenridge got serious momentum before halftime when the Buckaroos forced a turnover on downs. Two sacks and a holding call effectively killed the Longhorns' chances of cutting Breckenridge's lead to single digits.

► Player of the game: Jerry Lawson, Breckenridge, RB/DE — Jerry Lawson was key in short yardage situations, picking up a handful of first downs for the Buckaroos. His 44-yard receiving touchdown was also Breckenridge's longest play of the night. And on defense, Lawson recorded a couple of sacks and tackles for loss.

Quarterback Tucker Hale throws a touchdown pass on Friday, Oct. 15. He completed 17 passes in Early's loss to Breckenridge.

Key stat: One punt. Between both teams, there was only one punt on Friday – and it came in garbage time when the Buckaroos led by four scores. That says a lot about both offenses. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they didn't have the same luck in short yardage situations as the Buckaroos.

Coach Pearce said: "We're finally finishing our games. "Finishing is what we've been lacking. We're headed in the right direction, but there's a lot to go."

Coach Price said: "We have to find a way to re-focus and get our swagger back. You didn't see our best effort tonight. When you do that against a good football team, you lose."

Impact: Both teams are vying for the playoffs, with Breckenridge taking a step forward with its win.

Up next: Breckenridge is home Friday to face always-tough Wall, which lost 37-20 to No. 1 state-ranked Jim Ned on Friday. Early goes to Clyde next Friday. Clyde (1-6, 1-1) beat TLCA-San Angelo 61-22 on Friday. 

DISTRICT 3-3A DIVISION I

Breckenridge 37, Early 20

Breckenridge ... 16 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 37

Early ... 8 ... 0 ... 6 ... 6 ... 20

FIRST QUARTER

BRECK — Zeke Castillo 31 pass from Chase Lehr (Jerry Lawson run), 7:14

EARL — Tre Beam 3 run (Caleb McCullough pass from Franky Villareal), 4:58

BRECK — Lawson 1 run (Lawson run), 0:10

SECOND QUARTER

BRECK — Lawson 1 run (Castillo pass from Lehr), 3:53

THIRD QUARTER

BRECK — Lawson 44 pass from Lehr (Benny Escobedo kick), 10:17

EAR — Beam 1 run (two-point conversion failed), 3:16

FOURTH QUARTER

BRECK — Anson Rodgers 12 pass from Lehr (kick failed), 7:18

EAR — Ki Houston 7 pass from Tucker Hale (two-point conversion failed), 2:08

TEAM STATISTICS

..................... Breckenridge ... Early 

First Downs ... 16 ... 14

Rushes-Yards ... 39-102 ... 38-124

Passing ... 189 ... 176

Comp-Att-Int ... 12-15-0 ... 17-28-0

Fumbles-Lost ... 1-0 ... 0-0

Penalties-Yards ... 3-35 ... 4-41

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Breckenridge, Jerry Lawson 19-60, Anson Rodgers 6-25, Kayden Garcia 9-18, Chase Lehr 5- -2. Early, Tre Beam 18-67, Tucker Hale 17-47, Franky Villareal 2-6, John-Stewart Gordon 1-4.

PASSING: Breckenridge, Chase Lehr 12-15-189. Early, Tucker Hale 17-28-176.

RECEIVING: Breckenridge, Anson Rodgers 5-67, Jerry Lawson 1-44, Zeke Castillo 2-44, Alexis Franco 1-13, Kayden Garcia 1-11, Caiden Marin 2-10. Early, Ki Houston 4-59, Jeremy Brown 5-48, Tre Beam 4-45, John-Stewart Gordon 4-24.

RECORDS: Breckenridge 3-4, 2-0; Early 5-2; 0-2.