LINDALE -- Van fans that stuck it out on a cool, windy and misty night at Lindale's Eagle Stadium were rewarded with the Vandal's best game of the season, a 52-20 homecoming spoiler against their local rival.

The Vandals won the battle for ground dominance, passed effectively in non-conducive weather and forced three Lindale turnovers in the second half. It's a far cry from that Van team last season which went 0-5 in non-district competition.

"We came into this season kind of optimistic," running back Matt Savis said. "Last year, we had a terrible non-district and it was one of the worst years we've had in recent memory. It's a great vibe around here right now because everyone believes and everybody knows that we can win."

Van's Alphonso Thomas averaged about 10 yards per carry Friday. He finished his night with 151 yards. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

Savis, a senior, scored three touchdowns on the ground and had 95 yards on 18 carries.

As a team, Van (3-0) put up 507 yards against the Eagles (1-2).

Running back Alphonso Thomas had an even better night with two touchdowns and 151 yards on 15 carries -- an average of more than 10 yards per play. Senior wideout Bryain Roberts had 93 yards on just three catches.

The defense played a huge role in the offense's success. It forced two fumbles and got an interception in the win. Each Lindale turnover resulted in a touchdown.

"The defense continues to get better," head coach Jared Moffatt said. "I can't say enough. Really, it's about how hard they're playing. Brice Borgeson is a really good player and, Hunter Redmond, all he does is make about 20 tackles every night. Those kids are playing extremely hard and flying around. I could not be more proud of my team tonight."

Van got the game it expected early.

Thomas, Savis and quarterback Peter Maddox led the Vandals on a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive which lasted 3:15. The defense forced a three-and-out.

Things balanced out for a bit after that.

Trailing 14-7 and facing a third-and-goal situation from the 14 yard line, Kam Neely connected with Kolton Pierce in the back of the end zone with 38 seconds left in the half. A 15-yard personal foul and ensuing missed PAT took some life out of the stadium though.

Things were about to get worse for the home team.

Van went 49 yards in 33 seconds after a squib quick to set up a 29-yard field goal from Jozef Ruiz as time expired.

Lindale's best offensive weapon was Aaron Jackson. The running back had 92 yards on 20 carries. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

Lindale got the ball back to start the second half, but Van defensive tackle Aaron Chitwood killed the drive with a six-yard sack. Van had taken a 24-13 lead by the midway mark of the third quarter.

Cooper Bledsoe picked off Neely on the Eagles' next drive. Van scored on a 41-yard throw from Maddox to Roberts the next play for a 31-13 lead

Lindale fumbled on the second play of its next possession to set the Vandals up at the Eagles' 36 yard line.

Savis scored with two seconds left in the third quarter for a 38-13 lead.

Lindale's next drive ended with a tackle for loss, an illegal shift penalty and back-to-back incomplete passes. It opted to punt with about 10:30 to play.

"It felt great," Thomas said. "It feels really great to be performing as well as we are in all phases."

Friday's game was a big one for the Vandals of Class 4A Division I. Their chief rival is a Class 5A program which started the season with a good win against Chapel Hill and respectable effort against Carthage.

Wins against Lindale have been rare, although games have been tighter in recent years. The Eagles still lead the series 14-5 dating back to 1986.

Even better, Van is 3-0 for the first time since 2011.

"The great thing about playing a team like Lindale is you don't have to do a lot to get them ready to play them," Moffat said. "They're 15 miles away and they have grown up playing each other since peewee football and junior high. Both sides play extremely hard."

Lindale will be off next week. It will begin the District 16-5A gauntlet Sept. 26 at home against Corsicana.

Van will host Brownsboro next Friday before wrapping up non-district play against Paris North Lamar on Sept. 26.

"It definitely was a big win for us," Moffatt said. "We're 3-0, but you have to remember the football season is a marathon. It's not a sprint. The thing this team can continue to do is get better every day."

Van's Matt Savis scores his second touchdown of the night Friday at Lindale's Eagle Stadium. (Mike Davis, ETSN.fm)

Van 52, Lindale 20

At Eagle Stadium, Lindale

Van              7        10      21     14    --   52
Lindale         7         6         0       7   --   20

First Quarter
VAN--Matt Savis 3 run (Jozef Ruiz kick), 8:46
LIN--Cameron Sir Louis 20 catch from Kam Neely (Jordan Lawless kick), 0:44
Second quarter
VAN--Savis 4 run (Ruiz kick), 5:29
LIN--Kolton Pierce 14 catch from Neely (kick failed), 0:38
VAN--Ruiz 29 field goal, 0:00
Third quarter
VAN--Alphonso Thomas 1 run (Ruiz kick), 6:14
VAN--Bryain Roberts 41 pass from Peter Maddox (Ruiz kick), 4:06
VAN--Savis 2 run (Ruiz kick), 0:01
Fourth quarter
VAN--Thomas 1 run (Ruiz kick), 10:00
VAN--Deundre Johnson 94 run (Ruiz kick), 7:10
LIN--Tayton Williams 19 run (Lawless kick), 2:28

 

                                        VAN                LIN
First Downs                        20                  13
Total Yards                       507                310
Rushes-Yards             43-349               38-220
Passing Yards                  158                90
Comp.-Att.-Int.            9-13-0             7-17-1
Punts-Avg.                   2-34.5              4-36.5
Fumbles-Lost                    2-0                3-2
Penalties-Yards               6-58               6-56

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Van, Alphonso Thomas 15-151, Deundre Jackson 4-106, Matt Savis 18-95, Sam Reeves 1-4, Peter Maddox 3-(-7), Team 1-(-3) . Lindale, Aaron Jackson 20-92, Tayton Williams 6-85, Bryce Barkowsky 4-17, Ryan Taylor 3-16, Stephen Clemmons 3-10, Dre Lee-Alvarez 1-4, Kam Neely 1-(-3)
PASSING--Van, Maddox 9-13-0--158. Lindale, Neely 7-17-1--90
RECEIVING--Van, Bryain Roberts 3-93, Luke McGowan 4-53, Savis 2-10. Lindale, Cameron Sir Louis 2-45, Kolton Pierce 1-14, Williams 1-14, Aaron Jackson 1-13, Ryan Taylor 1-4, Bryce Deupree 1-0