Lions end with crushing 42-13 loss
By LPR Staff
It was more than just the rain that dampened the spirits of Lion fans on Saturday as the Lions’ playoff berth came to a brutal end against the Leander Vandegrift Vipers.
At first blush, it looked like the weather would cooperate; the Lions were in top form as DJ Ellison put the first points of th
e day on the board on a 48-yard dash to the end zone in the opening minutes of the game. Then, as quickly as the Lions struck, the lightning struck, creating a nearly two-hour delay that almost caused a cancellation of the game.
When the teams finally took the field, the Vipers answered back to tie the score. Both teams traded defensive blows throughout the first and second quarters, with Vandegrift sneaking a 14-7 edge in the second. After a Lion turnover on downs, the Vipers took possession and were moving toward widening their lead, when Logan Clinger picked off an interception to put the Lions back in the driver’s seat.
A long, slow push up the field put the Lions in striking distance for a tie, but the Viper defense was able to stop the attack, forcing a field goal attempt from 22 yards out. Enrique Villegas split the uprights and tightened the game to 14-10 as the final seconds ticked off the clock to an abbreviated halftime.
When the teams retook the field, they continued to trade defensive blows, and the Lions finally found their way back to the red zone, setting up for another field goal attempt as lightning once again delayed the game with 5:46 in the quarter.
That shattered momentum was enough to do the Lions in for the day, as after Villegas hit a 26-yard field goal to create a one-point game, the wheels came off and the Lions were powerless to continue fighting the Vipers’ strong air attack.
While the Lions could not find their way back to the end zone, the Vipers continued to stack up points, finally closing the afternoon with a 42-13 win.
Although the season came to a close sooner than the Lions had hoped, there were bright spots on the season that prove the Lions have come a long way in their journey this year, and have built the foundation for the program to continue to advance in the future.
With a final record of 7-5, the Lions ranked fourth in District 27-5A, with two Lions rushing for more than 1,000 yards on the season. Senior Curtis Hawkins broke the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive year, storming a total of 1,500 yards for 21 touchdowns. Junior DJ Ellison has one more year to go with the Lions, on the strength of a 1,234-yard season with 10 touchdowns.
Up-and-coming sophomore Stephon Houston picked up 596 yards for three touchdowns this year, and is likely to round out the Lions’ running game next year with sophomore Vincent Nevils, who had 183 yards and two touchdowns.
“This season has been one of the most enjoyable for me as head coach,” Coach Brian Herman said. “The kids have worked extremely hard to prepare for this success. The fact that every single coach stayed from last year has made a world of difference in building relationships with the team and it has clearly paid off.”