Lindale Comes Up One Point Shy Of Major Statement Against Highly Rated Team + Lufkin, Tyler Lee Struggle In Division I 7-on-7 Tournament
COLLEGE STATION -- Some teams breeze in and out of Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station. Win or lose, they're just happy to get the experience of the Division I State 7-on-7 Tournament.
Lindale, on the other hand, really wanted to show East Texas and the remainder of the state what it has been up to since its season ended last year in Week 10. It wanted to make a statement against a perennial football power in the state-wide field, and it got that opportunity Friday in the opening game of Pool N play.
The Eagles fell to Manvel, 25-24, in their most meaningful game. Manvel scored to tie the game with no time left on the clock and then converted a game-winning PAT from the 3-yard line.
"As a family, all spring and all summer, we've been working hard," senior receiver Kendrick Price Jr. said immediately following the opening game and after delivering a spirited message to his deflated team. "Normally, in situations like this, we don't crack. We don't fold. We stay solid. What I want to express to them is that, on a stage like this, where it really matters, we need to show our true colors. Who we really are.
"We're a team that doesn't quit. We don't fold in the last seconds. That wasn't us. To see us break hurt me. We're strong. Stronger than that."
Reality is, it would not have surprised most people if Manvel blew the Eagles away.
Manvel advanced to the Class 6A Division II regional finals last season, finishing the campaign with a 13-1 record. Lindale went 3-7 and missed the postseason as one of the smallest Class 5A programs.
The Eagles have not received much recruiting interest from Division I schools thus far. For starters, Manvel has Texas receiver commitment Reggie Hemphill.
And when Hemphill caught the winning conversion point, it was like Lindale got hit by a bomb. Half the players dropped.
"It's what we had been talking about all week," Price said. "We got Manvel first and that was a good chance to come out and put our fingerprints on this pool. Let everybody know who we are. 'Lindale is in this pool, too.' That's why I got so riled up in the last game. We had a chance to come out and beat the No. 1 seed in the tournament right off the bat.
"That was going to be real big for confidence for us going on in this tournament."
Price gave the Eagles an early 6-0 lead in the game with an eight-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Montana Meador, but team failed on its one-point conversion attempt.
Lindale failed on all four of its PATs in the game.
Manvel answered on its first possession with a 10-play scoring drive down the 45-yard field. Junior linebacker Kale Ridge intercepted the one-point conversion attempt -- the first of Manvel's three consecutive failed conversions.
Lindale gave up the ball on an interception 23 yards into its next drive. Manvel got all the way to the 2-yard line, but it threw two incomplete passes before Ridge and Carson Mizzell broke up plays on third and fourth down.
The dream of knocking off Manvel took on real life at the halftime whistle, tied 6-6. And the Lindale fans were ready to celebrate after Meador threw a three-yard touchdown with just two minutes to play.
Manvel drove 45 yards in three plays. Hemphill scored on a 15-yard reception and then caught the game-winning conversion.
"It was a tough loss, but we came out and competed against the best team in the tournament," Ridge said immediately afterward. "We were close. We had a chance and they made some good plays."
Lindale went on to lose its next game against Trophy Club Byron Nelson, 26-25, in overtime. Perhaps entirely deflated after that one, Mesquite Horn ran away with a 53-14 decision in the team's final game of pool play.
The Eagles will participate in the consolation bracket of the Division I tournament. Their Round of 32 game will begin today at 8 a.m. against Mission Veterans.
"The tougher competition we play, the better we will be in our district," Ridge said. "The teams that are here are just as good as anyone we will be playing this season, so we'll just get better from here."
Lufkin Salvages Win Against Laredo United
Lufkin's up-and-down Friday at the State 7-on-7 Tournament ended on a high note.
Jabo Johnson's late interception gave the Panthers a 33-32 victory against Laredo United. The opposition was on the 2-yard line with about a minute to play in the game.
"It was a big play," Johnson said. "I just tried to come through for my team. We were 0-2 and had to win one to feel good at all about our trip here. From here, we're expecting to win the consolation bracket. There will be good teams there, and we want to be great."
Lufkin played in close games all day. It opened competition with a 21-20 loss against Pearland Dawson and a 45-37 loss to Waxahachie.
The Pack's third game featured five ties and eight lead changes. They tied the game a final time on Kordell Rodgers' touchdown throw to Jeremiah Davis and took the lead on a successful two-point conversion with less than two minutes to play.
"Today was a rough day," Rodgers said. "We lost our first two games. But, here, I felt like I had another opportunity. It was a great feeling to get this win. It's been hard today, but this is where you find out a lot about your team. We came together and finished together, so it ended up being a good day."
Davis played the hero more than once against United. He opened scoring about 10 seconds into the game on a 45-yard reception and tied the game, 26-26, midway through the second half with a 13-yard grab.
Jadarian Bennett also scored a touchdown for the Panthers.
Rodgers completed 26 of 38 passes for five touchdowns and about 329 yards.
The team will begin consolation bracket play at 8 a.m. today against Langham Creek.
"We're in the consolation bracket, but we have the chance to win it," Rodgers said. "That would still be a good trip for us."
Tyler Lee Pasted By Houston Lamar
The Red Raiders received the worst thumping among teams in Pool L, a 52-18 defeat at the hands of a respected Houston Lamar program in its second of three games Friday.
Tyler Lee passers combined for five interceptions in the game -- including three pick sixes -- and only completed 13 of 32 passes. The offense recorded three touchdowns and 216 total yards as a whole.
Lee also struggled in its opening game against Lucas Lovejoy, a 48-25 loss.
However, the team managed to fight back for the pool's top seed in the consolation bracket with a 39-36 victory against San Antonio Alamo Heights to close the day.
The Red Raiders will begin consolation bracket play at 8 a.m. today against Abilene Cooper.