AUSTIN – In the grand scheme of things, Lehman Lobo senior running back Keyshaun Williams’ final run of his high school career might seem innocuous to the casual fan.
Williams’ 27-yard scamper late in the fourth frame Nov. 7 was one of the final strains in a 40-28 Lobo loss to the Akins Eagles, relegating Lehman to last place in 25-6A.
At the same time, Williams’ run exemplified a mindset he and his Lobo counterparts have tried to have all season. Despite a plethora of challenges and uphill battles that came with a 1-9 campaign, Williams was determined not to give up, even when defeat stared him straight in the face.
“I was trying to score. Trying to score for my team,” Williams said. “ … do what we can do to get back in the game. I’d do anything for these guys.”
For Lehman head coach Bruce Salmon, watching his team battle to the final whistle is nothing new. In five of the team’s 10 total games this season, Salmon said Lehman was competitive and within striking distance of its opponent. Heading into the final part of the 2018 season, Lehman was only close in two of their 10 games.
“We’re knocking on the door. The frustrating part is we haven’t been able to get through it yet,” said Salmon.
Those frustrations continued Nov. 7 as 14 unanswered third quarter points scored by Akins gave the Eagles the separation to fend off the Lobos.
Lehman (1-9, 0-8) couldn’t corral Eagles running back Nate Davis who accrued 245 rushing yards on 26 carries and a career-high six touchdowns.
Akins (2-8, 1-7) led 6-0 after a quarter before the Lobos countered with a three-yard touchdown run by Williams. A successful extra point gave the Lobos a 7-6 lead early in the first frame.
After both teams traded scores, Lehman responded with a six play, 49-yard drive capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by Williams, giving the Lobos a 21-20 lead at halftime. Williams rushed for 196 yards on 27 carries and a career-high three touchdowns.
The ability to mix the run and the pass on offense led to early success, Salmon said. Strong play by the Lobo offensive line also helped matters.
However, the Eagles exploded out of the halftime break by converting its first two drives of the second half into touchdowns. Those two scores, along with a successful two-point conversion, gave Akins a 34-21 advantage.
At the same time, Lehman’s offense struggled to get the ball rolling. The Lobos’ initial drive of the second half led to a blocked field goal attempt.
“When you’re trying to develop momentum as a program, a lot of times it takes catching some breaks,” Salmon said. “We had about two or three series in a row where the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Lehman battled back midway through the fourth frame when quarterback Joey Guajardo tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to running back Kanui Guidry, cutting Akins’ lead to 34-28.
But Akins responded on the very next drive with a 42-yard touchdown run by Davis to ice the game.
Guajardo went 10 of 25 passing for 106 yards and a score, while Guidry rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries. Lobo wide receiver Elijah Reyes caught three passes for 49 yards, while Guidry also caught three passes for 30 yards and a score.
For Salmon, the offseason provides a chance for players to get bigger, stronger and faster in the weight room. Meanwhile, coaches will await where the Lobos could land when realignment hits in February.
Ultimately, preparing for next season is now on the forefront for the Lobos.
“It’s kind of like putting money in the bank. You can’t withdraw anything until you put the money in there.”