Big plays boost HHS at Brownwood
No. 9-ranked Jags pile up over 500 total yards in District 5-4A (I) opener
BROWNWOOD — It seemed as if the Midlothian Heritage Jaguars were zipping around Gordon Wood Stadium on Friday night in a brand new Ferrari while the Brownwood Lions were grinding out a deliberate pace in an old Jeep.
Ninth-ranked Heritage beat Brownwood 43-25 in the District 5-4A Division I football opener by hitting the scrappy Lions with a barrage of big plays. The Jaguars scored on runs of 67 and 30 yards, plus passes of 33, 31 and 44 yards. They also had a 73-yard pass that didn’t score a touchdown but set up one.
Heritage quarterback Kaden Brown rushed for 124 yards on just seven carries and scored on runs of 2 and 67 yards. Brown also finished 12-of-19 passing for 228 yards, including long-range TDs of 33 and 31 yards to T.J. Pride and 44 yards to Xavier Moten. Running back Mason O’Neal added the 30-yard touchdown as Heritage piled up 513 total yards and averaged 9.3 yards per play.
“There’s no doubt the difference in the game was their big plays,” Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett said of the Jaguars. “We played hard to finish, but they’d break a tackle, pop through the line or get loose for a long pass play. If you took out four or five plays, were played even with the No. 9 team in the state.”
If the Lions covered well in the secondary and pressured Brown, the junior quarterback was at his best when scrambling for key yardage and important first downs.
Heritage improved to 5-1 overall while Brownwood fell to 2-4. It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions next week as they host Waco La Vega, which was ranked No. 6 prior to Friday’s loss to No. 2 Stephenville.
Brownwood hoped to control the ball with its running game, and the Lions did that to an extent. Konlyn Anderson carried 30 times for 141 yards, but was settling for 6 and 7 yards gains while Heritage was breaking long touchdown plays. Anderson’s 141 yards extended his season total to 1,090 yards.
“I’m just trying to keep going and get as many yards as I can to help my teammates and help us reach our potential,” said Anderson, who scored on a 2-yard run just before halftime. “Even though we lost tonight, we played with heart and we improved this week.”
Another good sign for Brownwood was touchdown passes of 37 and 54 yards from quarterback Chance Jones to receiver Jason Jackson, who finished with five catches for 99 yards. The Lions had struggled at times this season with their vertical passing game.
“I felt pretty good tonight. I was waiting and ready when they came to me,” said Jackson, who also played cornerback for the Lions. “Chance threw some good balls tonight.
“They (Heritage) have a good team, but we could have done better.”
Although Brownwood’s offense kept coming back in the second half, 22-13 was as close as the Lions got to the Jaguars. Jackson’s 37-yard touchdown reception pulled the Lions within 22-13 with 6:52 left in the third quarter. But just two minutes later, Heritage struck with Brown’s 31-yard pass to Pride to regain the momentum with a 29-13 lead.
Before the third quarter ended, O’Neal had popped his 30-yard scoring run as the Jaguars’ lead grew to 36-13.
“Even though we didn’t win, we played with great passion and effort, and we played a lot more physical,” Burnett said. “We wanted to make them earn everything they got tonight. We just gave up too many big plays.
“Chance Jones played through a thumb injury tonight, and we would have been in a bind without him. And Quentin Thompson came from the safety position and made some big hits. He really grew up tonight.”
The Lions, who fell behind 22-0 in the second quarter, fought back into contention with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that included five carries for 43 yards by Anderson. The junior back scored the touchdown on a direct-snap, 2-yard run as Brownwood pulled within 22-7 with 18 seconds left before halftime.
Heritage controlled much of the first half with its big plays. A 73-yard screen pass from Brown to Barela set up Brown’s 2-yard touchdown run that staked the Jaguars to a 7-0 lead with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
Brown scored his second rushing touchdown on a 67-yard sprint that extended the Jaguars’ lead to 14-0 with 7:39 left in the second quarter.
After Heritage recovered a Brownwood fumble at the Lions’ 33-yard line, Brown immediate threw deep for a 33-yard touchdown pass to Pride as the Jaguars increased their lead to 22-0 with 6:42 left before halftime.