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Fabulous first half propels JV Lions past Midlothian

Ennis delivers the goods in its home finale
Last week, the JV Lions played an excellent second half of football.
On Thursday, Ennis (4-5, 2-4) delivered a great opening half for a 20-3 lead as it went on to beat the Midlothian Panthers 26-15. The JV Lions won the week-one meeting between the two teams 18-10. This time, Ennis tallied a season-high in points for the second-straight week.
“Hopefully we learned from last [week’s slow start] and we came out with a lot of energy,” said coach Bryan Clark.
“The guys played well from the start defensively and our offense fed off that in the first half. I thought we were fairly balanced on offense and that’s why we’re putting up some more points.”
Ennis barely finished with more total yards (272-260) only because the Panthers delivered a long touchdown in the final minute of action. Midlothian won the turnover battle 3-1, but the Panthers committed the only turnover of the first half as Ennis pulled away.
Zarron Dove led the Lion offense with 83 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Nathan Puente scored two touchdowns on his only two touches of the night, while quarterback Curtis Tekell was outstanding in the first half as he completed six of seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Danny Manion loomed large with three sacks, while Matt French came up with an interception. Dalton Snyder tallied a tackle for loss, as teammates Dustin Vasquez and Cade Zmolik each made key fourth-down tackles.

Ennis makes early
statement
The Lions didn’t waste any time as they drove the field in their first-five plays. Tekell hit Adam Jones over the middle for a 13-yard gain as the receiver held on despite an immediate hit.
Two plays later, Tekell hurled the ball deep down the sideline for a 41-yard completion to John Cox. Puente then took a handoff to the right and stopped 14 yards later in the end zone (6-0, Tekell conversion pass failed).
“It was hard, but the line blocked well and I just tried to find the open hole,” Puente said.
“I fight for what I get and probably had some good luck too.”
“John got us a big chunk of yardage there early and got our momentum going,” Clark added.
On Midlothian’s first offensive play, the intended receiver bobbled a pass up into the air and French alertly made a diving interception at midfield.
“I just saw the ball come out of his hands and knew you’re never supposed to give up on a play,” French said.
“I went for it and got lucky. It feels good to make a play like that for the team in our last home game. The D-line really stepped up tonight and then we made some plays in the secondary.”
“French will always be where he needs to be and he’s a good leader for us as one of the older guys,” Clark added.
“He got an opportunity and took advantage of it.”
Tekell ran for a first down on Ennis’ second possession, but he also recovered a couple of fumbles in the backfield as the Lions ended up punting. Despite tackles for no gain by Snyder and Xavier Myers, the Panthers drove down to the Ennis 6 in 11 plays. Fortunately, another sound tackle from Myers forced the visitors to settle for a 13-yard field goal (6-3).
The Lions punched right back with a tremendous 10-play march. Tekell rolled out and hit Joel Cox for 18 yards before a shovel pass to Snyder proved good for a first down.
A couple of plays later, Tekell connected with Joel Cox on a short pass and the receiver ran for a 22-yard gain. Now inside the red zone, Dove converted a third down and then broke a tackle to make good on a four-yard touchdown run (12-3, conversion pass failed).
“I was getting pretty frustrated because I wasn’t moving the ball, but after that touchdown I started feeling it,” Dove said.
“I wasn’t going to let anybody stop me in the red zone. I get a lot of advice from [Tim] Hearne on varsity; he tells me new things to help me. I listened to him and got two touchdowns.”
A sound tackle from French and Manion’s first sack quickly brought about a Panther punt.
“I was wanting to bring it the whole time tonight so we could control the line of scrimmage,” Manion said.
“After that first sack, I was just really hyped up.”
With his team setting up shop at midfield, Dove broke a 23-yard run on third down. Tekell then found Puente on a 15-yard screen pass and Nathan ran strong to break a tackle for his second touchdown on his second-and-final touch (20-3, conversion pass to Wesley Patak).
“I just made the catch and got in [the end zone] thanks to my blockers,” Puente said.
“We worked hard in practice and ended the week on a good note.”
“Nathan batted a thousand tonight,” Clark added.
“He’s usually in there blocking and doing some dirty work; we thought we’d get him a few touches this week and he did some good stuff for us.”
In the final seconds of the half the Panthers were looking for a long-distance miracle, but Manion had other ideas as he produced his second sack.
“Coach [Gary] Jessie was telling me during practice this week that I better step it up if I wanted to play on varsity,” Manion said.
“The rifles that he was calling for me and Dalton just caught them off guard so I could get in the backfield for some sacks. Everyone came through for us on defense tonight.”
“Danny played well and we’ve been challenging him each week to get better,” the coach added.
“He has to be one of our playmakers on defense.”

Panthers close the
gap a bit
Midlothian appeared in position to seize the momentum early in the third quarter as it drove across midfield. Snyder managed to make a tackle for loss on third down, however, and then Vasquez tackled his man three yards short of a first down.
“Dalton plays on both sides of the ball and he’s improving defensively each week, which hopefully carries over into next year,” Clark said.
“That was a big play by Dustin and the key defensively tonight was simply that we tackled better.”
Ennis’ first offensive play of the half saw Adam Martinek lose a fumble after a short reception, though Clark believed he never had possession of the ball. The Lion defense responded, however, as D.J. Morris broke up a pass on third down and then Zmolik made a tackle one yard shy of a first down.
“Cade had a good ballgame and he delivered some pretty good shots in the second half,” Clark said.
The Lion offense hung around for a couple of plays this time before a Tekell pass down the middle was intercepted. Just 39 yards from paydirt, the Panthers made the trip in six plays and capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run (20-9, kick failed).
Jones returned the ensuing kickoff to the Ennis 49. With just one offensive yard in the third quarter to that point, Dove ran for eight yards on the final play of the frame.
Though Dove scampered for a first down and Ennis advanced as far as the Panther 27, the visitors stopped Tekell for no gain on a fourth-down keeper to get the ball back. Ennis would return the favor as yet another Manion sack helped force a turnover on downs.
Dove proceeded to pound the ball on the ground, but when fourth-and-eight came around he took a Tekell screen pass and kept his legs pumping for a gritty nine-yard gain. Andrew Brown exploded up the middle for a 20-yard run and when fourth-and-goal materialized, Ennis came out of a timeout with a one-yard Dove dive just across the goal line (26-9, Matt French kick failed).
“[The Panthers] were doing a lot of talking, so I just wanted to quiet them down and show them what the Lions are really about,” Dove said.
“This was one of our best games and everybody did pretty good to end up with a win.”
“Dove is just tough to tackle,” Clark added.
“He’s got a good forward lean and when we needed one yard there at the end, I knew he’d punch it in for us. Andrew hits the hole hard and can really shift gears out there.”
Ennis followed with a short kickoff and Midlothian didn’t secure the ball as Morris pounced on it.
“That was a lob into the wind and [Midlothian] didn’t even make an attempt to catch it, so it worked out well for us,” Clark said.
The Panthers didn’t pay for their mistake, however, as an errant snap resulted in a lost Lion fumble. Midlothian’s offense promptly took the field and finalized the score with a 61-yard receiver pass for a touchdown (26-15, conversion pass failed). The Panthers’ ensuing onside kick didn’t travel 10 yards.
Ennis will now head to Waco University on Thursday for a 7 p.m. contest.
“We started strong, but didn’t finish like we wanted to this week,” Clark said.
“Hopefully we put a full game together against University and finish the season strong.”

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Posted by on Oct 31 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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