By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
BUDA – Lehman High School now is zero-for-15 in district football games and the end of that streak is not immediately in sight. However, perhaps, it is getting closer, even if the Lobos lost a chance Friday night with a 47-28 loss to Manor at Bob Shelton Stadium.
For the first time this season, the Lobos finished a game well, and that’s part of the battle they almost always lost in the first 25 games of their varsity history. The Lobos played better in the second half than in the first, fought hard to the end and gave some indication of a football team with a future despite a 19-point loss on their own turf.
Starting the game is another matter. As they try to mature a passing attack with a squad built around two-way players, the Lobos aren’t built for coming from behind. But coming from behind is their fate so long as they start games so unfortunately.
Friday night, the Lobos looked like they could be marching towards victory at the outset when they moved 58 yards in 11 plays off the opening kickoff and advanced to the Manor one. But R.J. Hardaway then fumbled into the end zone and Manor recovered for a touchback.
On the very next play, Manor quarterback Riley Beecher hooked up with wide receiver Daquan Roberts on the left sideline at the 50, and Roberts proceeded all the way to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown. It was the second straight Lehman home game in which the opponent scored a long touchdown on its first play from scrimmage.
John Martell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Manor 45, then Hardaway ran 17 yards to the Manor 28 before Lehman quarterback Drew Phillips threw an interception. Then the Mustangs moved 58 yards in seven plays, taking a 14-0 lead on Lawrence Roberts’ six-yard touchdown run.
From a scoring standpoint, the Lobos played more or less evenly with Manor for the rest of the night. However, lacking the athletes or the stamina to stop Manor’s skilled performers, the Lobos could never register a key defensive stop and didn’t venture within 12 points of taking the lead.
The Lobos also lost two fumbles and three interceptions, which certainly cut into their ability to turn the game in their favor. Manor generated half of its scoring output, 24 points, off Lehman turnovers, and that’s not to add in the touchdown Lehman lost on Hardaway’s early fumble. In addition, the Lobos again repeatedly missed plays on offense, which isn’t, to hear Lehman coach Steve Davis explain it, a separate problem.
“It comes with self-discipline,” Davis said. “You have to execute the plays and you have to hang on to the ball. We’ve stopped ourselves on offense. We move the ball, but we stop ourselves.”
Though Hardaway took the burden for his fumble (“It was a huge mistake,” he said), the senior running back also carried his team to whatever prosperity it enjoyed. Once more displaying his dogged running style and consistently refusing to go down on the first hit, Hardaway rushed for 224 yards in 29 carries. And it was all for naught.
“I can’t really put it as my best game because it didn’t go our way,” Hardaway said.
The Lobos couldn’t complement Hardaway with a reliable passing attack, as Phillips and Chris Duran combined to complete only four of 16 throws for a total of 59 yards. Two of those completions came on a final fourth quarter drive for the game’s last touchdown.
Meanwhile, Manor moved the ball just about any way it wanted. Through the air, Beecher completed 13 of 24 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns. Daquan Roberts made five catches for 202 yards and the three touchdowns. Lawrence Roberts rushed 18 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The Mustangs totaled 579 yards from scrimmage.
Manor took its largest lead of the game on the first play of the second half, when Beecher met Daquan Roberts for a 70-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-7. In the night’s most heartening development for Lehman, though, the Lobos maintained a high level of energy on their sideline and started chipping back into the game.
On Lehman’s ensuing drive, Hardaway lugged the ball five times for 45 yards, setting up Martell’s three-yard touchdown run to bring the Lobos within 33-14. After the Lobos stopped Manor three and out, they took over at their own 16 and covered 84 yards in ten plays, aided by two pass interference penalties. Hardaway took the final nine yards on the ground for the score, bringing Lehman within 33-21 with 2:02 left in the third period.
But the game reverted back to form quickly. Manor needed only five plays to drive 66 yards in response, with Lawrence Roberts running 23 yards for a touchdown within 25.2 seconds left in the third quarter. Two scrimmage plays later, Duran threw an interception to set up Manor on the 50, and the Mustangs needed only six plays before Beecher found Daquan Roberts on a 12-yard touchdown pass to make it 47-21 early in the fourth period.
The Lobos kept up their spirit, though the game already was long gone when Hardaway ran three yards for a touchdown with 3:22 left. At the very least, the Lobos can say they played hard to the end, even if they didn’t play especially well throughout.
“They hung in there better this time,” Davis said. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Lobos (3-3 overall, 0-1 District 17-4A) will go for that elusive first district win next week at Elgin. Manor (2-4, 1-0) will travel to Del Valle.Email | Print