CHINA SPRING – “That’s a top-tier team and if we want to play with them you have to be a physical group and we just haven’t found that yet. They were more physical tonight than we were and it showed.”
Those were the words of Brownwood Lions fourth-year head coach Sammy Burnett following his squad’s 57-21 road defeat at the hands of the Class 4A Division II No. 5 China Spring Cougars Friday night.
After being stuffed on its first drive, China Spring (3-0) scored on its next six possessions to open a 43-7 halftime advantage over Brownwood (1-2).
“We still have to work on getting physical,” Burnett said. “I think our coaches are putting us in position to be successful and we’re not making plays. Defensively, we’re putting people in the right gaps and just not making tackles. We’re getting blown off the ball and getting knocked back into our linebackers and not playing with low technique. Offensively, we’re still dropping some balls we should be catching. I thought we ran the ball well at times and we moved the chains.”
The Lions finished with 336 yards of total offense – 236 rushing and 100 passing – and did not commit a turnover for the first time this season. But the Cougars, who coughed up the ball twice, still amassed 496 yards – 371 on the ground and 125 through the air – with 335 yards coming in the first two quarters alone.
Quarterback Chance Jones accounted for all three Brownwood touchdowns, hurling scoring tosses of 35 and 22 yards to Jason Jackson – who finished with a team-high four catches for 77 yards – while also rushing for a 5-yard score. Jones finished with 100 yards passing and 45 rushing.
Konlyn Anderson again anchored the ground game with 146 yards on 29 carries, while Jaylan Brown chipped in 41 yards on three rushes.
China Spring was led by running back Kyle Barton who racked up 147 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Major Bowden passed for 125 yards and two touchdowns – both to Tre Hafford, who hauled in three receptions for 54 yards – while rushing for 93 yards and another score.
Defensively for the Lions, Owen Huntsinger picked off a pass on China Spring’s last possession of the first half, and Dryden Anderson recovered a Cougar fumble during the third period.
The starting field possession for China Spring’s eight first-half possessions was the Brownwood 49, while the Lions started at their own 20 on average during the same span. The Lions were plagued by eight penalties for 70 yards – all in the first half – and most coming on kickoff returns that buried Brownwood deep in its own territory.
“We have to cut out the simple mistakes we are making that are hurting us and putting us behind the chains or giving us bad field position,” Burnett said. “Our kids were hustling on special teams, we blocked in the back several times and we had a couple of holding calls. It’s a fine line. You tell them to be aggressive, you tell them to go, they just have to fix their technique and know when you can block somebody and when you can’t. We slipped on one kickoff return and fell down on the 1, but we drove down the field and had a chance to score on a fade and dropped the ball. We moved the ball 70 yards, we just have to find a way to finish that drive and get it in the end zone.”
China Spring scored the game’s first 29 points on a pair of 1-yard runs by Barton, another 1-yard carry by Dawson Exline, and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Bowden to Hafford.
The Lions, whose first three drives netted -3 yards of total offense, finally lit up the scoreboard with 4:45 left in the second quarter on Jones’ 35-yard fade to Jackson.
The Cougars immediately answered with a 40-yard sprint by Bowden, followed by a 39-yard touchdown gallop from Barton to boost the halftime advantage to 43-7.
China Spring needed just two plays to score to start the second half, as the Cougar lead peaked at 50-7 just 26 seconds into the third quarter after a 32-yard toss from Bowden to Hafford.
The Lions scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on a Jones to Jackson 22-yard connection with 11:33 left, and Jones also found the end zone on a 5-yard carry with 1:41 to go.
“I told them at halftime I want to see what kind of character this team has,” Burnett said. “You’re getting hit in the mouth so are you going to stand up and fight and swing until you get knocked out or are you just going to give up and throw in the towel? I told them at the end I don’t think anybody gave up, I thought they fought hard.”
Next week, the Lions are slated to host Burnet (0-2) – whose game at Boerne this week was cancelled for COVID reasons – for homecoming, with a 7:30 p.m. Friday kickoff at Gordon Wood Stadium.
“We have to understand when we get to practice you have to grind and learn your technique and be a master at your craft and do your job and know the other person beside you will do his,” Burnett said. “Right now we’re not doing that and it’s showing. I still think we have a lot of talent, we just have to find ourselves and gel as a team and we have two more games to do that before it really counts. I want to win every game we play, but there’s something to be learned from tonight, and if it’s a better focus in practice that’s what it is.
“Our coaches are coaching their tails off and at times like this we have to coach harder and harder and not let up and find a way to reach the kids. Then they have to respond with the desire to get out there when it’s not fun and grind so they have a better result on Friday nights.”
China Spring 57, Brownwood 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Brownwood 0 7 0 14 – 21
China Spring 15 28 7 7 – 57
C: Tre Hafford 15 pass from Major Bowden (Greydon Grimes pass from Bowden),
7:01, 1st – 0-8
C: Kyle Barton 1 run (Thomas Barr kick), 4:31, 1st – 0-15
C: Barton 1 run (Barr kick), 11:33, 2nd – 0-22
C: Dawson Exline 1 run (Barr kick), 6:54, 2nd – 0-29
B: Jason Jackson 35 pass from Chance Jones (Junior Martinez kick), 4:45, 2nd – 7-29
C: Bowden 40 run (Barr kick), 4:22, 2nd – 7-36
C: Barton 39 run (Barr kick), 1:43, 2nd – 7-43
C: Hafford 32 pass from Bowden (Barr kick), 11:34, 3rd – 7-50
B: Jackson 22 pass from Jones (Martinez kick),11:33, 4th – 14-50
C: Isaiah Redd 18 run (Barr kick), 5:14, 4th – 14-57
B: Jones 5 run (Martinez kick), 1:41, 4th – 21-57
First Downs 20 24
Total Offense 336 496
Rushes-Yards 45-236 49-371
Passing Yards 100 125
Comp-Att-Int 10-22-0 6-10-1
Punts 7-24.8 1-32.0
Fumbles Lost 0 1
Penalties-Yards 8-70 4-37
RUSHING: Brownwood – Konlyn Anderson 29-146; Chance Jones 12-45, TD; Jaylan Brown 3-41; Grant Hennington 1-2. China Spring – Kyle Barton 16-147, 3 TDs; Major Bowden 8-93, TD; Isaiah Redd 10-86, TD; Jaeden Davis 8-49; Isaiah Williams 2-30; Dawson Exline 1-2, TD; Landon Kuehn 1-1; Team 3-(-37).
PASSING: Brownwood – Jones 10-22-0-100, 2 TDs. China Spring – Bowden 6-10-1-125, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING: Brownwood – Jason Jackson 4-77, 2 TDs; Elias Huerta-Doud 2-5; Anderson 1-11; Taylor Bessent, 1-6, Case Markham 1-4, Brayden Daub 1-(-3). China Spring – Sebastian Trevino 3-69; Tre Hafford 3-54, 2 TDs.