LAMPASAS — It had all the makings of a classic heavyweight bout — big hits, trading blows, and ultimately the knockout.
The Lampasas Badgers football team entered Friday night’s District 8-3A matchup against the Brownwood Lions looking for their first district since the 2011 season finale, a span of seven games — but more importantly they needed the victory in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
They did just that in their 61-56 victory over Brownwood at Badger Stadium.
But it took an unlikely contributor to finalize the victory.
The Lions took the lead with 1:20 left in the game and the 2-point conversion was successful.
It got worse for Lampasas before it got better — and, boy, did it get better.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Badger’s starting quarterback Logan Irvin was forced to the sideline for a play due to injury. Lampasas backup Collin Bowen was thrust into action and proved he could handle the pressure of a 56-55 deficit by connecting with Cale Walker for a 55-yard go-ahead score — only after he nearly tripped himself before he could spin around to toss the pigskin to Walker.
“Bowen came in and ran the previous play again and he found Walker,” said Lampasas head coach Brian Emerson. “That’s one of our staple plays and it worked.”
The Badgers fell behind 10-0 just four minutes into the game after Lions running back Braxton Kilgo scored from 7 yards out and Brownwood kicker Abraham Oviedo’s 34-yard field goal.
But Lampasas countered with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up nearly 5 minutes off the clock before junior halfback Walker put the Badgers on the board with a 7-yard run that cut the score to 10-6.
On the subsequent drive, not to be out done, the Lions pieced together an 11-play drive that encompassed 77-yards and ended with Chris Keesee finding Connor Howard in the corner of the end zone to take a 17-6 lead.
“It’s been our M.O. this season to fall behind like that — but we know we can come back like we did tonight,” Emerson said.
And then Steven Jazdyk displayed his superb talent. The senior running back recently returned from a long injury recovery and looked as if he had never been away.
Jazdyk ran for three second-quarter touchdowns of 57, 4, and 31 yards, respectively, on his way to collecting 295 rushing yards for the second straight week and six touchdowns.
The Badgers needed every bit as 1,000 yard rusher Gary Spencer missed the game with an injury of his own.
“With Spencer out, we depend on Jazdyk so much more and he gives us everything we need,” Emerson said. “We are a rush-first team and tonight it showed what we can do.”
Despite hitting hard and jumping out to 17-6 lead, the Lions found themselves trailing with 4 minutes left in the first half but drove 55 yards for the Kilgo go-ahead touchdown that made the score 24-20.
But the Badgers weren’t fazed. They merely gave the rock to Jazdyk who knew what to do with it — this after a spectacular 39-yard run by Walker who finished with 109 yards on 10 carries and two scores to go with his touchdown catch.
Jazdyk found the end zone for the third time after he scampered 31 yards for the third lead change in 5 minutes. The score stood at 27-24 with Lampasas coming back from 11 down.
But the bout wasn’t over — even with 22 seconds left. The Lions got the ball at their own 40 and on the first play Keesee completed a 31-yard screen pass to Bryan Johnson and called a timeout with just 5 seconds left, Oviedo tied the game at 27-27 on a 46-yard field goal.