By WES FERGUSON
The Lehman Lobos lost their Homecoming game, 16-7, to Boerne Champion on Friday night, but it was one of those defeats that almost felt like a win for the Lobos.
With Lehman sitting at 1-4 and 0-2 in district, the players and coaches are looking for moral victories and signs of progress at this point in the season. The Lobo defense played exceptionally well against the Chargers, especially in the second half when Tyler Hyss, Kyron Morrissette and their Lobo teammates held the normally high-flying Champion offense to just 3 points and 68 total yards.
In the first half, Champion quarterback Kyle Poeske ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw all over the field for 16 of 29 passes and 216 yards, but he was limited to 1-for-8 passing in the final two quarters. Lehman’s linebackers, including Jacob Tamez, in his first game on the varsity roster, blitzed early and often to put pressure on him.
“Our defense was amazing tonight,” Lobos head coach Todd Raymond said. “We knew we were going to have our hands full coming into this game. They moved the ball, but we forced them into four or five stops on fourth down.”
Then there’s Paul Brown. Lehman’s junior running back broke his nose in practice on Tuesday. Until he began to have drainage issues late in the fourth quarter, he ran as hard as ever, and on a night when the offense could hardly move the ball at times, Brown carried it 24 times for 178 yards.
His effort accounted for about two-thirds of the Lobos’ total yards. Brown also set up the team’s only touchdown in the third quarter when he took a handoff at the 44-yard line and ran straight into a pile of Lobo and Charger linemen. Just before the refs whistled the play dead, he spun to his right and sprinted down the sideline, diving to the 1-yard line.
“After I broke my nose, a lot of people were scared I wasn’t going to play,” Brown said. “You know Boerne’s a great team. I wanted to prove to everybody that Lobos don’t go down. We’re going to stay here and fight. We are underdogs, but we’re underdogs that will punch you in the mouth.”
Behind a big push from his offensive line, quarterback Paul Matthews capped off Brown’s long run for the short touchdown score, bringing the game to 13-7.
The Lobo defense shut down Poeske and the Chargers on their next possession, forcing a missed field goal attempt by Clayton Hatfield, but three straight handoffs to Brown went nowhere and the Lobos were forced to punt again late in the third quarter.
The Chargers’ Jake Margozewitz handled the punt at his own 35-yard line and weaved 43 yards through the Lobos’ cover team to set up another field goal try from 24 yards out, which Hatfield easily booted through the uprights, extending the Chargers’ lead to 16-7 with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Feeling confident now, the Lobo offense mounted its longest drive of the night — an eight-minute, 56-yard march from deep inside Lehman’s own territory that included three successful fourth-down conversions. The drive finally fell short on a fourth-and-long try that ended at Champion’s 33-yard line.
The Lobo defense held the Chargers to three downs and a punt on the subsequent possession, giving the Lobo offense a minute and 12 seconds to try to put some final points on the board. Quarterback Josh Guerrero completed short passes to Kelton Powell and Matthews and a 23-yard strike to Tyler Dodero, the Lobos’ longest pass of the night, but he was sacked by defensive tackle Joseph Strong to end the game.
Playing mostly in the first half, Guerrero completed 9 of 20 passes for 73 yards and an interception. Paul Matthews, who played more against Champion than he had all season long, completed 3 of 3 passes for minus-3 yards. He also rushed 12 times for 26 yards.
“We felt like (Matthews) gave us the best chance with what we were seeing, and he made some runs when he had to,” Raymond said. “More importantly he managed things really well. We tried to come out in the second half and develop an identity for ourselves and develop a little confidence and a little swagger going. The strength of our offense is our big old offensive line we have. We’re going to come out and try to hammer a little bit. … We just ran out of gas there at the end.”
Offensive lineman Kenny Higgins thanked the defense for keeping the Lobos in the game for as long as they did.
“Our defense has really been good to us,” he said. “They picked up the slack until we got our act together. We’re a physical team, and in the second half we really picked it up.”
The Lobos entered the game missing several key players who have left the team for a variety of reasons over the past few weeks, including standout wide receiver Brandon Hamilton, linebacker A.J. Armonta and defensive back Bradley Braxton. In response, Lehman’s coaches moved up several players from junior varsity, with some of them seeing major minutes on defense. Tight end Tyler Dodero also ended up playing most of the game in the defensive secondary.
The changes didn’t seem to slow down the Lobo D.
“We had a great game, and the offense is going to get it together,” Morrissette said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Champion moves to 3-2 and 1-1 in District 27-4A with the win.
The Lobos travel to Alamo Heights Friday. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.