WACO — Ellison outplayed Waco for the better part of three quarters but still came up short.
Waco started Friday night’s game red-hot — scoring on three of its first four drives to build a comfortable 21-0 lead that Ellison closed to 24-16 before time ran out.
Lions junior quarterback Traynham Moore completed touchdown passes to senior Trey Boggs and junior Tyler Taylor to sandwich a passing score from backup quarterback Trayvond Brooks to senior Myron Hills.
The second score was set up by an Isiah Cowan fumble on the Eagles’ 30-yard line. The turnover was the only mistake by the Ellison senior who rushed for a game leading 155 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown.
“Isiah had a great game he is a good player for us,” coach Buddy McBryde said. “The offensive line blocked real well for him even though we were so much smaller than (Waco).”
One play later, the score stood 14-0. The score ballooned to 21-0 before the first quarter ended.
The situation was dire for the Eagles. Junior quarterback Trenton Jones was picked off at the Ellison 44-yard line by Waco’s Josh Porter.
The momentum was with the Lions but Ellison refused to give in.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 11-yard line, the Lions opted to go for the conversion instead of taking the points.
The gamble backfired and Ellison took over at its own 15.
The Eagles (0-3) drove 85 yards on nine plays and one Lions 15-yard face-mask penalty to pull within two scores.
Jones found senior wideout Caleb Moses for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Setting up the score was Cowan, who ran for 56 yards before being dragged down at the Waco (2-1) 20-yard line. It was the first time a play took place on the Lions’ side of the field.
After trading punts on the next two possessions, Jh’mal Gatewood picked off Moore in Waco territory, setting up a first-and-10 for the Eagles at the Waco 25.
Ellison couldn’t capitalize on the miscue and missed a 32-yard field goal.
“I think we made some mistakes that cost us the first half,” McBryde said. “I think we won the second half, and if you take away our first-half mistakes we won the ball game.”
Waco received the ball to start the third quarter. The Lions drove from their own 25-yard line to the Ellison 29 before another Moore interception, by senior Rasheed Dashiell, put Ellison in position to close the 21-7 deficit.
“We made some adjustments and our kids picked up what they were doing,” McBryde said. “They didn’t quit, they have pride.”
This time Deon Burch drilled a 40-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 but Waco answered with a field goal to make it 24-10.
The next Eagles possession started at their 30-yard line. Ellison took 18 plays to go 70 yards before a 9-yard run by Cowan and a Burch missed extra point made the score 24-16.
“I have to show all the love to my offensive line, they really came out to play today and I couldn’t be more proud of ’em,” Cowan said. “They are my tank dogs and I love them to death.”