By Chris Boothe
PALESTINE – In the Lovelady Lions district matchup against the Centerville Tigers, the story of the game was the miscues of the Lions offense. With a chance to redeem themselves, it was miscues again that spelled disaster for the Lions. Two interceptions late in the first half would lead to a 14-point swing for Centerville, a 14-point swing the Lions were unable to overcome as the Tigers pulled away for a 43-14 win.
After an early second quarter square, Lovelady found themselves leading 14-7, the Lions looked poised to take control. Unfortunately the Lions would consecutive possessions ending in interceptions, and would find themselves trailing 27-14 with under a minute remaining in the opening half.
From there the Tigers continued to pour it on, using a stout defense and physical offense to pull away for the win.
Things looked good early as the Lions forced Centerville into a three-and-out to start the game. From there the Lions took off on offense, using the legs of Tim Johnson and arm of Lee Holsey. Johnson used his quick burst to fly through the Tigers defense, while Holsey constantly connected with his top receiver, Hunter Murray, torching the Tigers secondary.
Murray would put the finishing touches on the drive, taking the ball in from four yards out to give Lovelady an early
Centerville would respond using their big bruiser, Brandon Madison. Madison gashed the Lions for big gains, before finally taking the ball in for an 11-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven.
Not done, the Lions would answer back with Johnson, Holsey, and Murray leading the charge. Facing a pivotal 3rd and eight from the Tigers 26, Holsey would connect with Murray for a 13-yard reception. On top of that, the Tigers would be flagged for a costly roughing the passer penalty, putting the ball on the Tiger 6-yard line. From there, it would be Murray carrying the ball into the end zone again, this time from four yards out to give Lovelady a 14-7 lead.
Centerville would take control from there, scoring 20 unanswered points to end the half with a 27-14 lead over the Lions.
The second half wouldn’t fare much better for the Lions, who were shut out by a stingy Tiger defense. Centerville would tack on 16 more points in the second half, including a pair of big touchdown runs by Madison and Koy Howle.
The Lions showed plenty of balance, finishing the night with 269 yards of total offense with 121 coming through the air and another 148 yards on the ground. Lee Holsey finished the night going 11 of 21 passing with all 121 yards and two interceptions.
Tim Johnson led the offensive charge for the Lions, rushing for 76 yards on 17 carries. Ethan Campbell pieced together a big night as well, ripping off a pair of late runs to finish the game with 71 yards rushing on six carries.
For Centerville, it was their running attack that finished the game. The Tigers finished the game with a whopping 397 yards rushing. Madison led the charge with 194 yards and three touchdowns, while Koy Howle added 146 yards on 16 carreis and two scores.
The win moves Centerville to the State Quarterfinals where they will face the Price Carlisle Indians for a chance to continue their season.
For the Lions, it was a hard luck loss, and ends a brilliant career for several Lion seniors. The senior class will finish as one of the most decorated in school history, reaching the State Semifinals a year ago, and pushing at least three rounds deep into the playoffs each season.
Congratulations to the Lions on a fantastic season.