Brownwood earns consecutive wins in the series for the first time since 1986-87

STEPHENVILLE — “When we needed a big play, we made it tonight.”

Brownwood first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield’s words perfectly summed up his team’s performance Friday night, as the Lions earned their first District 3-4A Division I victory, 27-13, over the rival Stephenville Yellow Jackets in the 76th “Battle of 377.”

“It’s my first time to be a part of the ‘Battle of 377’ personally, so this feels great,” Maxfield added.

The Lions (3-3, 1-1) — who also recorded consecutive victories in the series for the first time since the 1986-87 campaigns — forced five Stephenville (1-6, 0-1) turnovers which resulted in 20 points, while also turning away a Yellow Jacket opportunity to potentially tie the game late in the fourth period.

Though Brownwood gave up 334 yards, Stephenville rushed for just 90 yards on 35 carries and lost 42 yards on the ground in the second half due to a plethora of Lion sacks and tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Yellow Jackets were also held to a season-low in points and were kept 20 points below their season average.

“That was really impressive,” Maxfield said of the defense. “Coach (defensive coordinator Sam) Gillispie and the whole defensive staff had a great plan.”

Linebacker Hunter Mares, who recovered a Stephenville fumble and was involved in numerous tackles for loss, said, “The defense definitely showed up today. To make that many stops in the red zone was good for the defense. We caused more turnovers today than I think we have the whole rest of the season.”

A pair of first-quarter Stephenville turnovers allowed the Lions to race out to a 14-0 lead, halting a four-game trend where Brownwood surrendered the first points of the contest.

On the Yellow Jackets’ second snap, Grant Fanara recovered a Krece Nowak fumble following a 24-yard gain to the Stephenville 46. The Lions needed just three plays to score as, following 4-yard carries by Gavin Jefferson and Harley Price, quarterback McLane Moore scored from 36 yards out on a third-and-2 quarterback keeper. Rylan Reagan’s extra point put the Lions in front, 7-0, just 1:37 into the contest.

Stephenville responded by marching the ball to the Brownwood 32, but Jeremy Brown went over the intended receiver’s head to pick off an Easton Jones pass at the 8:41 mark of the opening quarter — the first of two Lion interceptions in the end zone.

Brownwood methodically trekked 80 yards in 11 plays, with Jefferson — who rushed for a season-high 166 yards — scoring the first of his two touchdowns on a 20-yard, third-and-7 carry. Following Reagan’s PAT, the Lions owned a 14-0 edge with 3:50 left in the opening period.

Establishing an early two-touchdown lead was critical for the Lions, according to Maxfield. “Any time in a rivalry game you can jump ahead like that it’s big. We were rolling and had the momentum the whole first half.”

Stephenville reached the Brownwood 26 on its next drive, but the Lions pushed the Yellow Jackets back the 42 and forced the first of two punts. The Yellow Jackets were eventually able to tally points on their fourth possession as Jake Gillispie’s 37-yard field goal trimmed the Lions’ advantage to 14-3 with 3:23 left in the opening half.

The two teams then traded punts, with Brownwood getting the ball back at its own 31 with 1:39 left before intermission.

Moore then hit Corleone Pressley on a jailbreak screen — one of just two completions for Brownwood on the night — as Pressley broke free and would have scored had it not been for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called when Pressley raised the ball over his head at the 4 heading into the end zone.

The penalty didn’t harm the Lions, however, as Moore answered on the next play with a 19-yard scoring toss to Patrick Nash, and Brownwood took a 21-3 lead into the halftime locker room.

The Lions could get very little going offensively throughout much of the second half, but Brownwood’s defense kept Stephenville from taking advantage of the situation.

A snap over the punter Reagan’s head set up Stephenville with a first down at the Lion 19 just 2:04 into the second half. The Yellow Jackets were able to advance to the Brownwood 3, but the Lions defense stiffened, forcing a 20-yard Gillespie field goal that trimmed the Brownwood advantage to 21-6 at the 6:50 mark of the third.

Later in the third period, Stephenville fumbled the ball away at its own 47, but three plays later Moore’s fourth-and-7 pass was intercepted at the Yellow Jacket 24. After two more snaps, the ball was back in Brownwood’s possession as Mares recovered a loose ball. But the Lions went backward on that drive, losing 7 yards and giving the ball back to Stephenville on its own 39.

Still leading comfortably by 15 points to start the fourth period, the Lions witnessed Stephenville advance to the Brownwood 20. But Stephenville’s drive ended with a false start, losses of 5 and 2 yards on first and second down run plays and consecutive 12-yard sacks to give Brownwood the ball back at the Yellow Jacket 45.

But four plays later the Lions’ second botched snap on a punt gave the ball to the Yellow Jackets at the Brownwood 35. Jones immediately found Kyle Lindsey in the end zone for a 35-yard scoring toss, and the Lions’ lead shrank to 21-13 with 7:25 left.

On Brownwood’s next drive, Moore was intercepted again as Holstein returned to the ball the Lion 11.

With 7:10 left and Stephenville threatening to potentially tie the game, Blaine Hughes came up with a third-and-7 interception in the end zone that kept the Lions in front with 5:53 left. Hughes also recovered a fumble earlier in the second half.

“This week we worked a lot on getting pressure on the outside shoulder on the pass rush to keep them from making running lanes and that worked pretty well,” said Lion defensive lineman Hayden Tunnell. “We ended up with some sacks and a lot of hurries and that helped our DBs get some interceptions.”

After the pick, the Lions marched 80 yards, capped by a 57-yard draw play that Jefferson took to the house, to add insurance points and increase the margin to 27-13 with 2:04 left.

“We worked on that in practice and it seemed like a good play,” Jefferson said. “We were hitting them strong but they had been knocking us back and we thought that could be a big play for us. When I turned I saw the hole open. All the linemen got their blocks and I had one defender to get by.”

The Lions finished with 283 yards of total offense, but that number is skewed by the 51 yards lost on two botched punt snaps. Brownwood finished with 199 yards rushing — which could have been 250 — and 84 passing.

Defensively, the 13 points allowed by the Lions was seven fewer than any game this season and 17 below the average of 30 points surrendered,

“We had a really good week of practice and came ready to play,” said defensive lineman Devonte Evetts, who was in the Stephenville backfield a good portion of the contest. “This is a rivalry and we all came out and gave it our best.”

Brownwood has its district bye next week, then hosts Big Spring (0-7, 0-2)— a 59-7 loser to Wylie (5-1, 2-0) Friday night — in the Oct. 28 home finale.

“We’ve built some momentum going into the bye week, then we finish up against Big Spring and Snyder and we’ll see where the playoffs lead us,” Maxfield said.

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Lions 27, Stephenville 13

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Brownwood 14 7 0 6 - 27

Stephenville 0 3 3 7 - 13

SCORING SUMMARY

B: McLane Moore 36 run (Rylan Reagan kick), 10:23, 1st

B: Gavin Jefferson 20 run (Reagan kick), 3:50, 1st

S: Jake Gillispie 37 FG, 3:23, 2nd

B: Patrick Nash 19 pass from Moore (Reagan kick), 1:22, 2nd

S: Gillispie 20 FG, 6:50, 3rd

S: Kyle Lindsey 35 pass from Easton Jones (Gillispie kick), 7:25, 4th

B: Jefferson 57 run (kick failed), 2:04, 4th

TEAM STATS

B S

First Downs 16 14

Total Offense 283 334

Rushes-Yards 45-199 35-90

Passing Yards 84 244

C-A-I 2-9-2 19-34-2

Fumbles Lost 0 3

Penalties 7-67 5-33

Punts 3-41.6 2-25.0

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing

B: Gavin Jefferson 25-166, McLane Moore 14-68, Harley Price 3-17, Braden Jetton 1-2, Crystan Wright 1-(3), Team 2-(-51). S: Krece Nowak 20-89, Conner Schmutz 2-7, Easton Jones 11-(-1), Cameron Frazier 1-(-2), Victor Moreno 1-(-3).

Passing

B: Moore 2-9-2-84. S: Jones 18-32-2-210, Mason Holstein 1-1-0-34, Kade Averhoff 0-1-0-0.

Receiving

B: Corleone Pressley 1-65, Patrick Nash 1-19. S: Schmutz 7-96, Kyle Lindsey 5-111, Frazier 3-31, Nowak 3-5, Holden Haile 1-1.