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Lions win home opener against Victoria West

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Running back Sean McKinney catches a short pass from quarterback Ashton Dickens on third down and runs it into the end zone to give the Lions their first points of the game. Miles Smith/LPR photo

The Lockhart Lions kicked off their 2021 campaign with a 33-29 win Friday night in their home opener against Victoria West, ending a losing streak dating back to the 2019 playoffs in a thriller against a Class 5A opponent coming off a banner season.

It took a fourth-quarter interception, a 75-yard drive and a last gasp by the the defense to put away the Warriors, an 8-4 team last season that picked up yards in chunks and seemingly scored at will all night against the Lions, who claimed their first victory in 10 games after Victoria West wide receiver Dion Green caught a Hail Mary from QB Jordan Thibodeaux 15 yards short of the end zone as time expired.

Lions Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Todd Moebes said he was proud of the mental toughness his team showed in a game that featured multiple lead changes.

“Our guys are warriors, they’re fighters by nature,” Lockhart Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Todd Moebes said. “These were two great football teams that were fighting all night. Every kid that played on both teams, you tip your hat to all of them. I mean, it’s a hot humid night here in the first game of the season with a lot of momentum shifting.”

Lockhart held a five-point lead going into the final 12 minutes, expanding its lead to 26-21 on a chip shot field goal by Joseph Suarez with seconds left in the third quarter.

But as they had a few times before on Friday night, the tables turned on the Lions. With 9:22 in the fourth quarter and the Lions clinging to a five-point lead, the Warriors had churned their way inside the Lockhart 5 yard line. On first and goal, Green rumbled his way into the end zone to give the Warriors a 27-26 lead that they expanded to 29-26 following a successful two-point conversion.

The Lions got the ball back with plenty of time, but their drive stalled out, turning the ball over on downs near midfield with 6:51 left — plenty of time for the Warriors’ high octane offense to zip down the field and put the game away.

For a moment, it seemed like a spoiled home opener might be on the menu. With 3:14 to play, the Warriors faced a third and goal on the Lions 7. Jeremy Baldwin lobbed a fade into the left corner of the end zone that was picked off by Lockhart defensive back Ashton Hernandez.

From his own 25, sophomore quarterback Ashton Dickens, who had already passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another, went to work. He launched the ball deep into Warrior territory, evading the pass rush as the pocket collapsed to find Josh Ramos running down the sideline.

From the Victoria West 20, Dickens threw incomplete to wide receiver Tay Andrews (who earlier had caught a touchdown pass in the third quarter) in the end zone. But the officials called pass interference on the Warriors, and after the ball was spotted at the 2 yard line, Dickens willed his way into the end zone two plays later on a quarterback keeper, giving the Lions a lead they would never relinquish.

Read more about the Lions home opener in this week’s Post-Register.

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