Lions capitalize on Hornets’ mistakes to win Bi-District title
By Alonzo Garza
The Lockhart Lions proved to be the most tenacious team at Rhodes Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 15. After a hard-hitting playoff contest that went back and forth until the last seconds of the game, the Lions prevailed 35-28 over the Huntsville Hornets.
The Lions took the Hornets to task with a “slot-T” offense and a defense
that kept Huntsville working hard for every yard. The Lions wore the Hornets out before taking them down in the last seconds of the game.
The Lions outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the Hornets. Lockhart made 21 first downs, while Huntsville made only 12. The Lions rushed 59 times for a total of 339 yards while the Hornets rushed 36 times for 160 yards. The Lions received five penalties for a loss of 25 yards while the Hornets had nine for a loss of 91 yards.
The Hornets’ three fumbles though, were their most costly mistakes.
“I am very proud to be a Lockhart Lion today,” Head Coach Troy Moses said on Monday. “The Lockhart boys played like men on Saturday night. They played together, they played with their hearts and they played with one thing on their minds – Gold Ball!”
“What a game,” Coach Ernie Bustamante said. “We felt this would be an exciting game and it was. It was a great challenge to take on one of the top rated division one teams in our region.”
“Gold Ball!” Moses said. “That is exactly what they got. Saturday night, the 2008 Lockhart Lions won the first Bi-District Championship since 1971 and for their accomplishment, they will have a Gold Ball in the trophy case with their names on it.”
The Hornets went into the contest as the District 18-4A Champions and were favored to win by most game predictors unfamiliar with the 2008 Lion Pride.
The game began with the Hornets’ Lonnie Lipscomb scoring the first touchdown of the night at 6:13. Lipscomb scored with a 4-yard run and after a successful extra point kick by Martin Juarez the Hornets led 7-0 to the delight of the Huntsville fans.
The Lions answered with an 11-yard touchdown run by Richard Ybarra at 2:05 and Michael Pittman’s kick tied the score at 7.
The Hornets struck back with a stinging 58-yard kickoff return touchdown by James Davidson at 1:55. Juarez’s kick was good for a 14-7 score and a Huntsville lead at the end of the first.
The second quarter showcased strong defensive plays by both teams keeping the scoring to a minimum. The Lions scored the only touchdown of the quarter with a 2-yard run by Dominique Hardaway at 8:20 to tie the game at 14.
“The defensive staff is extremely proud of the effort our young men gave,” Bustamante said. “It is exciting that at this point we are playing great football. Some of our young men had ‘career nights’ on Saturday.”
The third quarter scoring was even, with both teams scoring one touchdown.
The Hornets scored first on a 39-yard touchdown run by Lipscomb followed by a good kick by Juarez for a score of 21-14.
The Huntsville touchdown was met with boos from the Lockhart fans since it came immediately after a controversial official’s call, which granted Huntsville the ball after the Lions recovered a Hornet fumble.
The Hornets fumbled again at 5:28 and the Lions regained possession of the ball. After a few carries, Hardaway scored a touchdown and Pittman made the extra point kick to tie the score at 21 with 1:37 remaining in the third.
The fourth was the most exciting quarter of the game. As everything hung in the balance after Huntsville scored to tie at 28 with 1:45 left on the clock.
The fourth quarter also proved to be the most productive for the Lions who scored 14 points while holding the Hornets to one touchdown.
Scoring began with a 2-yard touchdown run by Kory Robbins at 4:31, followed by a good kick by Pittman for a 28-21 lead over the Hornets.
The Hornets scored at 1:46 with a 4-yard touchdown run by Devin Butcher. A good kick by Juarez tied the score. With a tie at 28 and 1:45 left to play, the Lions lost Robbins to an injury.
At 1:40, the Lions had a first-and-ten at the 24-yard line. By 1:24, Hardaway carried the ball seven yards and continued to inch his way forward until he made a 47-yard run after breaking through the Hornet line. Hardaway was pushed out of bounds at the 20-yard line.
With 23 seconds remaining, the Lion and Hornet fans screaming, the team coaches jumping and yelling and the sideline players ready to burst, the Lions were at the 14-yard line with a second-and-four to go.
Ybarra carried the ball to the 5-yard line for a first-and-goal with 16 seconds to go and the Lion fans held their collective breath until Zachary Leija broke through for the final touchdown of the night with 12 seconds to spare. Pittman’s kick made the score 35-28, sealing the victory for the Lions.
The Lions attempted an onside kick then called a time out with eight seconds to go. The Hornets called a time out of their own, then attempted a Hail Mary-like pass and failed.
According to the officials, the Lions began to celebrate their victory too early and were forced to return to the sidelines. One second was put back on the clock, allowing the Hornets a second chance at a miracle, but the pass was an exact replay of the previous pass and was blocked by Hardaway in the last play of the game.
The Lions charged the field and jumped for joy as coaches and players congratulated themselves. The most impressive part of the celebration was a team “Thank You” that was shouted out in unison to the fans who responded in kind.
“I would like to thank everybody that drove to Katy Saturday night, sat in the cold and cheered the Lions on to victory,” Moses said. “It was a huge boost to the young men out on the field. To know you have so many people supporting you is a great feeling.”
“We would like to thank the administration, parents and community for their tremendous support,” Bustamante said. “Your ‘12th Man Support’ really motivated our young men to make all of you proud.”
“I told the team we needed to play our best game of the year and that is what we did,” Moses said. “Defensively we created turnovers and made stops when we needed them. Our offense executed well, didn’t make mistakes and took what Huntsville gave us. There wasn’t anything that was going to keep our kids out of the end zone. The Dallas Cowboys could have been on the other side of the ball and we still would have scored! That is the kind of determination and passion we played with all night long. Words cannot express the joy I felt after the final second ticked off the clock… I can only imagine what the boys were feeling.”
“Texas playoff football is something all high school athletes should experience,” Bustamante said. “It provides experiences these young men will remember for the rest of their lives. Our second round game versus Beaumont Central should be another exciting playoff contest. We hope to see our side of the stadium overflowing with maroon on Saturday night.”
The Region III, District I, Bi-District Champion Lions will return to Katy’s Rhodes Stadium for the second round of playoff pairings on Saturday, Nov. 22. The Lions will face Beaumont Central in the Region III, District II, Area Game at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the game are on sale at the LHS athletic office and the LISD administrative offices.
To get to Rhodes Stadium from Lockhart go south on Highway 183, go through Luling to I-10 and head east to Katy. In Katy, take the Katy-Fort Bend exit and turn left at the light. Drive north for half a mile and the stadium will be to the left.
See you at the game.