By Alonzo Garza
Victory was a long-awaited and hard-won prize on Friday night.
After rain and lightning delayed the game for nearly an hour, the Lions faced an evenly-matched Gonzales Apache squad who kept the team on their toes, and on edge, until the final moments of the game. Finally, after struggling with numerous penalties and turnovers, the Lions scratched out a 28-20 win, their first of the season.
“We are extremely proud of the way the team kept their composure and came from behind on the road,” Lion Head Football Coach Robin Rapp said.
A downpour accompanied by lightning strikes drove the players back into the field house during warm-ups, sent fans fleeing for cover under the bleachers, and sent the Lionettes, cheerleaders and the Roaring Lion Band back to Lockhart. When the weather finally subsided, the game kicked off at 8:45 p.m., with the Lions receiving.
Within moments, quarterback Tyler Tolley threw a nearly-incomplete pass to Karl Greiger which fortunately bounced out of Grieger’s hands and into the grasp of Brian Martinez, making for a complete pass at first-and-10 on the Gonzales 35-yard line.
The Lions received the first of what would be a handful of penalties during the game, losing five yards on a dead ball. Two completed passes later, the Lions were poised for their first touchdown, with first-and-goal on the 8-yard line.
Over two more plays, star running back Dominique Hardaway rushed eight yards for the touchdown.
Gonzales thwarted a safety attempt on a pass from Tolley to Martinez, but officials ask for do over. The Lions opted for a extra point attempt, and the kick by Brooks Pittman was good for a 7-0 score.
“We made some big plays offensively, defensively and in the kicking game to make the comeback possible,” Rapp said. “We preached to the players all week, the team that controlled the line of scrimmage best, would win the game.”
The second quarter opened with the Lions at first-and-10 on the 19-yard line. However, the quarter did not really heat up until the final minutes.
The Apaches scored a touchdown and extra point with 2:24 on the clock. The Lions answered back with 27 seconds remaining, when Martinez received a pass from Tolley and ran it in for a touchdown. The half closed with the Lions ahead 14-7.
After a brief halftime break, the teams returned to the field on edge and ready to win. Penalty calls upped the ante, and caused tempers to flare.
Early in the third, officials called a holding penalty, which caused a Martinez touchdown to be called back.
Moments later, a pass from Tolley was intercepted, allowing the Apaches the opportunity to score their second touchdown of the night with a long pass down the left side of the of the field.
The quarter ended with both teams receiving penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Despite the penalties, the teams’ tempers and the late hour, the fourth quarter was the most action-packed.
Gonzales struck the first blow in the fourth, with a 41-yard touchdown pass to the left. An attempt at a two-point conversion failed, leaving the Lions in possession of the ball at 20-14, with 5:49 remaining.
At 4:56, Hardaway carried the ball to the 4-yard line and got injured in the process. He got up and limped off the field on his own, leaving the rushing duties to sophomore Joseph Bell.
Bell rushed in for a touchdown in the following 20 seconds. The extra point kick was good for a score of 21-20 with 4:36 remaining.
At 2:54 the Lions gained control of the ball with an interception. Bell rushed the ball forward incrementally until he made the last touchdown of the night. The kick was good for a final score of 28-20 at 2:23.
A final unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Lions was delivered at 1:26 and a penalty dispute during the last minute of the game transpired before the last whistle blew, ending the contest with 28-20 win over the Apaches.
“Our offensive line consists of Lee Brummett, Jeff McCoy, Steven Post, Jose Aguillon, Javier Alarcon, Kevin Rodriguez, Jonathan Alvarez and Karl Greiger and their efforts made a difference in our key runs,” Rapp said. “Bell did a wonderful job coming in and scoring two touchdowns and gaining 105 yards on nine carries. The defense limited Gonzales’ running game to 87 yards for the night and had two fourth down stops. Aurelio Garcia and Tony Moreno were the Lions’ top two tacklers and the biggest play of the game defensively, was when Moreno caused a fumble and it was recovered by Pittman with less than three minutes left to play.”
Offensive statistics include a total of 131 yards and a touchdown with 21 carries for Hardaway. Bell rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns with nine carries and Tolley gained 50 yards with 13 carries.
Tolley threw the ball 25 times for a total of 121 yards, 12 completions, one touchdown and two interceptions.
On the receiving end of the football, Martinez made four receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Till contributed three receptions for 19 yards, while Hardaway added six yards in three receptions. Greiger had two receptions for a total of 23 yards.
Defensive statistics include tackles made by Moreno, Garcia, Pittman and Brandon Pleasant. Moreno made three tackles, one unassisted tackle, five assists, one quarterback pressure, one knockdown and one big hit. Garcia made seven tackles, two unassisted tackles, two assists and one quarterback pressure. Pittman made five tackles, two unassisted tackles and one assist. Pleasant made two tackles and three assists.
Turnovers included a caused fumble by Moreno and a fumble recovery and an interception by Pittman.