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Leaping Leopards! La Grange spoils homecoming for Lions

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The Lockhart Lions saw their non-district record slip to 1-3 after Friday night’s game at Lions Stadium, a 37-21 loss to the Class 4A Div. 2 La Grange Leopards.

On a night where the Lions celebrated homecoming and honored the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Lions district championship and bi-district championship team, the Leopards played spoiler, fueled by their prolific ground attack.

Familiar woes from the Lions’ previous two road losses resurfaced in Friday night’s game: a slow start, an opponent that could put up points in a hurry, untimely drive-killing turnovers and penalties, and an insurmountable halftime deficit.

It didn’t help that La Grange put on a clinic on running the option, taking a 30-7 lead at halftime following a touchdown run by senior running back Ryder Imhoff that capitalized on a Lockhart fumble with 2:21 remaining in the half. Imhoff crossed the goal line about a minute later, putting the Leopards up by 23.

The Leopards started quickly, with junior wide receiver Bravion Rogers scoring on a 50-yard touchdown run with 9:23 to play in the first quarter to make the score 6-0, effectively giving La Grange the lead for good.

The Lions went three and out on their first possession, but the defense showed an early spark, forcing a fumble on the Leopards’ next possession and getting a turnover. But another three and out put a damper on that momentum, with Lockhart turning the ball over on downs at its own 34-yard line.

The Lions defense didn’t make it easy for the Leopards. Lockhart held La Grange out of the end zone and forced them to settle for a field goal late in the first quarter, and after another Lions’ drive fizzled, Lockhart managed to down a punt at the La Grange two-yard line.

But that kick was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty, and the retry gave La Grange the ball back at their own 28.

Just a few plays later, Jakobe Wilkerson pranced into the end zone to give the Leopards a 16-0 lead.

The Lions got on the board with 8:19 to play in the second quarter, cutting the score to 16-7 after a 40-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ashton Dickens.

With new life, the Lions got a stop on defense on a series punctuated by Derik Ruiz blocking a Clay Wolff pass at the line of scrimmage. But La Grange intercepted Dickens on the ensuing drive, setting up a short field and a drive that ended with a leaping touchdown at the goal line by Rogers, making the score 23-7.

After La Grange went up 37-7 in the third quarter on a 27-yard run by CJ Davis, the Lions showed some life on offense.

Dickens threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for the Lions — a 41-yard pass to Diante Jackson and a short throw to Dylan Evans.

Read more sports coverage in this week’s Lockhart Post-Register.

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