By LPR Staff and Rob Ortiz
What began with the Lions showing their dominance in the first quarter ended in a crushing Matador victory as the Lions celebrated Homecoming on Friday.
The Lions started the night in a position of unquestionable power, opening with Daequan Ellison’s 78-yard return on kickoff. In the second play of the game, quarterback Logan Brown found his way into the end zone on an eight-yard rush. Juan Ocampo capped the drive with a solid kick, to put the Lions up 7-0 after 20 seconds of play.
The Lions crushed the Matadors first drive when Brown snagged an interception at the Matadors’ 19-yard line. Ellison took a 19-yard scramble to the end zone, and Ocampo once again split the uprights, taking the Lions to a 14-0 lead, all before the first minute of play had lapsed.
On the Matadors’ next drive, Clayton Hinckley killed Seguin’s momentum with an interception of his own, putting the Lions back in the driver’s seat.
Although the Lions put together another nice drive, Ocampo’s field goal attempt from the 33-yard line fell just short of the goalpost.
After the turnover, the Matadors put together a long, slow drive to the end zone to cut the Lions’ lead to 14-7. Seguin then shut down another Lion scoring push, forcing a punt, and a press from the Matadors that was capped with a good field goal from the Lions’ 16-yard line, closing scoring for the quarter at 14-10.
The second quarter proved to be a “battle of the defense,” which Seguin finally won as the clock ticked down, taking a 14-17 lead over the Lions headed into the break.
Tempers flared as the teams returned to the field, with a series of unsportsmanlike conduct calls on both sides of the ball. With 4:26 left in the quarter, the Ellison was able to find pay dirt once again, bringing the Lions back to a 21-17 lead.
The Lions’ defense continued to hold, and flags continued to fly well into the fourth, when Brown scored again on a one-yard quarterback keep. Ocampo’s point-after attempt was marred by a fumble on the snap, but called back on a penalty against Seguin. The Lions tried for the conversion, but the attempt failed, bringing the score to 27-17, with just under eight minutes on the clock.
The Matadors fielded the Lions’ kickoff and put together another strong offensive drive, closing the gap at 27-24 with 4:32 on the clock.
As time ticked away, Seguin opted for an onside kick, which the Lions recovered at the 46-yard line. The Matador defense held strong and broke up the Lions’ attempt to pad their lead, and answered with another touchdown on their next drive, burning the clock to 1:31 and taking a 31-27 lead.
“It all came down to the fact that they made the big plays at the most opportune time. We started fast and had great flashes,” Coach Brian Herman said after the game. “There were some very bright spots, but of course we must improve and learn from this game.”
As Ellison returned the kickoff to the Lions’ 18-yard line, a scuffle broke out on the sidelines, resulting in the ejection of both Ellison and Hinckley. With two of their most effective offensive weapons neutralized, the Lions were unable to put together a successful drive to reclaim the victory, and the Matadors took a knee on their final possession to close the game.
Herman declined to comment on the circumstances that led to the eleventh-hour ejections, but said that, “at some point, you have to defend yourself and your teammates.” He did note the coaches will be trying to refocus the players this week, to focus their energy from snap to whistle and that “those who retaliate are those that get caught.”
Now at 2-2 (0-1), the Lions will travel to Boerne to take on the Samuel V. Champion Chargers (1-3, [0-1]). The Chargers fell in a shocking loss to Medina Valley in their first District game of the season, and have also fallen to Brandeis and Prosper.
“The Chargers are a very good football team as always,” Herman said. “Just like us the record does not reflect what they are capable of. We are two plays away from being 4-0. They are very hungry for their first district win, just like us.”