JEWETT — Leon did something for the first time since 2010 on Friday night: beat county rival Centerville in football.
Leon’s lethal passing attack combined with the Cougars capitalizing on four Centerville turnovers led to a convincing 44-14 win over the Tigers in the two school’s District 11-2A Division I opener.
“Centerville’s taken two district championships away from us the last two years, so it’s nice to get one back,” Leon coach Jeremy Colvert said. “It might not be for the district championship, but it’s a Homecoming crowd sellout. It’s great to get this win tonight.”
Senior quarterback Jacob Robinson showed why he’s the Brazos Valley’s passing leader, throwing for 273 yards and four touchdowns on 22-of-33 passing.
“It means everything to me,” Robinson said of the win. “We really showed out tonight and made a statement.”
Leon had trouble getting the ball to senior Tyson Cornett, the Brazos Valley’s leading receiver who finished the night with just two catches for 12 yards. But the duo of Logan Noey and Tito Gonzalez stepped up for the Cougars. Noey had eight catches for 104 yards and Gonzalez had six catches for 74 yards with each catching a touchdown pass in the first half.
“We talked about it all week. ‘Hey, Tyson’s going to get double-covered,’” Colvert said. “We moved him around quite a bit just to see how they were going to try and cover him. Once we figured out what they were trying to take away, our kids stepped up. We talked to them all week about, ‘Hey, this is the week you’ve got to have it,’ and they did.”
Centerville struggled on offense, mustering just 229 total yards. Sophomore running back Paxton Hancock, the team’s leading rusher, was out after suffering a season-ending leg injury last week, and without Hancock, the Tigers’ run-oriented scheme produced just 82 yards on the ground.
“Offensively, we just never got anything established,” Centerville head coach Kyle Hardee said. “We weren’t able to run the football effectively. We made a few plays in the passing game, but we need to be able to run the football and control the clock. That didn’t happen for us.”
Leon broke the game open in the second quarter thanks to a trio of touchdown passes from Robinson.
Late in the half, Robinson found Gonzalez over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown pass, giving the Cougars a 22-8 lead with 2:35 left. Leon then recovered an onside kick by Gonzalez, and the Cougars took three plays to score again on Robinson’s 46-yard TD pass to Noey over the middle.
“As much success as we had offensively tonight, really the story is our defense,” Colvert said.
“Centerville, it’s a double-edged sword with them. You’ve got big 6-foot-5 [Dillon] Denman on one side and you’ve got the power running game on the other. The fact that our defense was able to stuff them down and prevent them from moving the ball and churning the clock and forcing punts and turnovers, that’s huge.”
On the final play of the first half, Leon was able to fend off a Centerville pass into the end zone.
“We had an opportunity to make a play there and we didn’t get it made,” Hardee said. “You can’t give away possessions, and I think we ended up giving away four possessions tonight. You do that and you’re usually going to get beat.”
Centerville’s four-game winning streak was snapped with Friday’s loss. The Tigers will try to get back on track at home against winless Alto next Friday.
“We’re going to take this and learn from it,” Hardee said. “Our season’s certainly not over. We go back home next week. We’ve got to regroup and get going.”
Leon will try to keep things rolling against another Leon County foe, Normangee. Grabbing a win won’t be easy facing the undefeated Panthers on the road, however.
“[Normangee is] playing fantastic right now,” Colvert said. “They’re rocking over there, so we’ve got a big test in front of us but another local rival. Our kids know their kids and their kids know us, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to do our best to make a heck of game out of it.”