Recovering an onside kick helped the Greenville Lions overcome North Forney 49-38 in a District 8-5A-II football thriller on Friday night at T.A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium.
The Lions just scored but were still trailing 38-35 with 5:58 remaining, when Tyrecus Davis leaped high to grab Zach Allen’s bouncing onside kick at the Falcon 45-yard line. The Lions scored two plays later on Lester Turner’s 45-yard touchdown run and added another Turner TD run in final 2:10 to put the game away.
Lion assistant coaches Alex Contreras and George Sellers suggested the onside kick to head coach Darren Duke.
“And I almost called us out of it,” said Duke.
But he said the Lions had looked good in practice on onside kicks and he elected to go for it.
The Lions had trouble stopping North Forney’s offense through the first three quarters though the Lions held the Falcons to only three points in the fourth quarter as Greenville rallied from deficits of 28-14 and 35-21.
“I’m so proud of those kids, to come from behind,” said Duke.
Duke said he’s known all along that this team doesn’t give up.
“I’ve encouraged them, let’s do more,” he said. “Let’s be rough. Let’s impose our will.”
The speedy Lions imposed their will on the North Forney defense with a season-high 585 yards of total offense.
Junior quarterback Brandon Stephens put together his strongest all-around game in two season as a starter, rushing for 112 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries and throwing for 190 yards and two TDs after completing 14 of 28 passes. Last week Stephens had gone only 3-of-9 passing for 15 yards in the 24-7 win over Kaufman.
“We said before the game Brandon had to make some throws and he did,” said Duke.
Stephens connected with the speedy wide receiver Caleb Johnson on touchdown throws of 14 and 65 yards. Johnson led the Lion receivers with seven catches for 115 yards.
Turner also had a big game for the Lions with a career-high 223 yards on 20 carries, including touchdown runs of 30, 45 and 4 yards.
Dartaveon Wilkerson also ran for a 21-yard TD as the Lions stacked up a season-high 395 yards rushing.
North Forney finished with 506 yards of total offense as running back Ty Collins pounded his way for 223 yards on 25 carries, scoring on bursts of 25, 1 and 28 yards.
Falcon quarterback Jacob Acuna went 12-of-25 passing for 184 yards and also ran for a 13-yard touchdown.
The victory lifted the Lions to 3-2 for the season and 2-1 in district play. They are now tied for third place in the district with Royse City, which lost 38-21 to Ennis. Ennis and Corsicana are tied for the district lead at 4-0.
North Forney fell to 3-3 for the season and 1-3 in district play.
The victory was a little extra special for Duke because he’s known North Forney’s head coach Randy Jackson since junior high days at Tenaha in East Texas. Both coaches were assistants on Marvin Sedberry’s staff in Greenville before they became head coaches.
“That makes us even right there,” said Duke, whose Lions lost 49-21 at North Forney last year.