Written by Matt Wixon
Ennis eats up clock, holds off Lancaster, 28-20, to win 15-4A title
ENNIS — After a night of momentum swings, Ennis’ plan was simple late Friday night. Don’t drop the ball, then raise the trophy at Lion Memorial Stadium.
Ennis followed through on its plan, draining the final 41/2 minutes off the clock to hold off Lancaster, 28-20, and earn its first district title since 2006.
“Hang on to the ball, that’s what it was all about,” said Ennis senior running back Terence Williams, who rushed for three touchdowns. “We wanted to score if we could, but we just wanted to hang on to the ball.”
That was enough for Ennis (9-0, 6-0 District 15-4A) to avenge last season’s loss to Lancaster (4-5, 3-3), which pulled to within 28-20 on an 8-yard run by Shannon Simpson with 4:38 left.
Ennis, which is No. 2 in the 4A area rankings, took over on its 25-yard line, ran the ball nine straight times and picked up four first downs to run out the clock. The Lions, who started 8-0 last year and were then blown out by Lancaster, clinched the game when Williams ran 9 yards on third-and-3 at the Lancaster 34-yard line.
Ennis scored on its first two drives of the game, but the Lions’ offense wasn’t on the field much in the first half. Lancaster held the ball for 17 of the game’s first 24 minutes, which included an 18-play drive that burned more than nine minutes.
It didn’t result in any points because Ennis broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal at the 7. But when the Lancaster defense followed with an interception, its offense went from grinding to flying. Tim Taylor grabbed a bubble screen in the middle of the field, escaped the reach of one defender and then raced for a 65-yard touchdown that gave Lancaster a 14-13 halftime lead.
“I told them it was going to be an emotional game and that they might try too hard,” Ennis coach Jack Alvarez said. “I didn’t rip them at halftime. I just talked to them. I told them to calm down.”
Williams passed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, but the Lancaster defense limited him to 87 yards on 23 carries. Teammate Nick Gabriel rushed 10 times for 115 yards.
Lancaster was led by Simpson, a bruising back who rushed 20 times for 108 yards and two scores. The Tigers nearly narrowed the gap on the final play of the third quarter when Chris Thomas connected with Taylor in the end zone on fourth-and-8. But Thomas was past the line of scrimmage when he released the ball, and Ennis had the ball back when the fourth quarter started.
Ennis scored on its first two drives of the third quarter. The Ennis defense forced a three-and-out on Lancaster’s first possession of the second half to help the Lions build a 28-14 cushion after three quarters.
“We’ve had some guys missing on defense, and hopefully we’ll get them back for the playoffs,” Alvarez said. “These guys are survivors. They’ve overcome some things that a lot of teams couldn’t. But they’re tough-minded.
“That’s the Ennis mentality.”
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