YORKTOWN – The last few times that the Yorktown Wildcats and the Kenedy Lions met on the football field, the Wildcats broke the Lions’ hearts.
On Friday night, all of that changed.
While Yorktown’s running attack gained a lot of yards, it was the Lions and their passing game that earned a decisive 33-31 victory.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Kenedy head coach Lin Havron. “We’ve hung with them the last three games. It was nice to turn that around and be on the winning edge for a change.”
The first half set the tone for what was to come later in the contest. The 1st quarter’s lone score came with just 2 seconds left as Kenedy junior quarterback Rolie Zepeda found senior receiver Tristan Mejia for a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Junior Weston Hallmark’s kick was good, giving the Lions a 7-0 edge.
On Yorktown’s ensuing possession, just 11 seconds into the 2nd quarter, senior running back Jayden Barefield scored on a 60-yard run.
The ensuing PAT failed after a bad snap, leaving the Lions with a 7-6 lead. Later in the quarter, with 19 seconds left, Hallmark caught Zepeda’s pass for touchdown from 6 yards out, though the extra point was no good.
On the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, as time expired for halftime, junior receiver Dylan Martin caught senior quarterback Derek Franke’s throw for a 31-yard passing touchdown. Again, the extra point failed, leaving the score at 13-12. That score would stand through the 3rd quarter and into the 4th quarter.
The 4th quarter saw the game go back and forth with lead changes. With 10:24 on the clock, Barefield scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, this time from 40 yards out.
The 2-point conversion failed, leaving the door open for the Lions.
At the 9:11 mark, Zepeda connected with senior receiver Emilio Mendoza for a 32-yard score.
The 2-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 19-18. On Yorktown’s next possession, just 11 seconds later, Franke kept the ball himself and scored on a 52-yard run.
However, the 2-point conversion attempt was no good, giving the Wildcats the lead at 24-19. That lead would last until the 6:31 mark as Zepeda and Mejia hooked up on a 9-yard pass for the touchdown.
Zepeda and Hallmark would convert the 2 points through the air to give the Lions a 27-24 lead. Yorktown’s last lead came with 1:13 to go as Franke scored his second rushing touchdown of the night on a 68-yard run.
Senior Kolbe Ybarra’s kick was good, giving the Wildcats the lead at 31-27. The Lions, not wanting to let this game slip away, rallied and scored the final touchdown of the game with 7 seconds to go as Zepeda looked for Mejia and connected on a 2-yard pass for the game-winning score.
Despite the extra point missing its’ mark, the score of 33-31 was good enough for the Lions to claim victory.
When all was said and done, the Wildcats gained 445 yards of total offense, with 377 rushing and 68 passing.
The Lions, by comparison, amassed 363 yards of total offense, with 91 on the ground and 272 through the air.
Penalties were kept to a minimum as the Lions were flagged twice for 10 yards total and the Wildcats were penalized twice for 20 yards total.
Turnovers proved to be a key difference, as Kenedy lost one fumble while Yorktown lost three fumbles.
“It was a battle of wills,” said Havron. “We had confidence in what we were doing.” With the regular season halfway over, Havron praised his team for their efforts this far into the season.
“Last year we were 1-3 and now it’s two totally different psyches,” said Havron “Every week is pretty tough for us. I think we’re a little further and we’re doing some good things.”
This week the Lions will host the Harper Longhorns, a matchup Havron noted as a tough one for the Lions.
“We had some injuries and that we’re gonna have to bring up some kids to get through this week and get healthy before district,” said Havron “They’re very physical and we’re gonna do what we have to do.” Kickoff in Kenedy is set for Friday, September 30 at 7:30 PM.