LORENA — With the way Robinson worked its way right down the field early, it looked like it would have its way with Lorena on Friday night.
But things are seemingly never that simple in a rivalry game, and four Robinson turnovers allowed the Leopards to hang around and actually take the lead in the third quarter. But the Rockets finally got things swung back their way, and LeVonte Owens’ nifty 41-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in a 25-18 decision at the newly renovated Leopard Field.
Owens scored all four of the Rockets’ touchdowns as part of a 203-yard rushing night, but he also had to bounce back from a pair of first-half fumbles.
“LeVonte struggled in the first half,” Robinson coach Tommy Allison said. “But he came back the second half and played really well. He had a great run there to take the lead there at the end, and he needed to get in a rhythm. The whole offense did, really. We just kind of sputtered. But our defense when it counted made some big plays. I’m proud of those guys.”
Allison described the game coming right down to the end as a “Robinson-Lorena thing,” and it kept the feel of a District 17-3A game even though they’re no longer in the same district.
It was the second straight week that Lorena faced an old district rival, having dropped an overtime decision to China Spring last week.
Owens’ rushing effort was part of a 238-yard game on the ground for the Rockets, and they outgained Lorena, 412-303 in total offense.
The Leopards got a solid game from quarterback Jared Poteet, who threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and he added 40 on the ground despite taking some early losses on sacks.
Lorena (0-2) tied the score at 12 by halftime and took advantage of getting the ball first in the third quarter.
The Leopards went 80 yards in 13 plays, converting three huge third-down plays along the way — the last of which came on a 47-yard deep post from Poteet to Jacob Spivey that set up first-and-goal. From there, the Leopards stalled until fourth down, when Poteet floated a fade pattern in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard score to Colby Reed.
“Jared managed the game really well,” Lorena coach Ray Biles said. “Andrew (Marrero) ran hard, and I thought our kids up front did a great job of trying to give them some creases, too. We’re close, but we’re not there. We’re playing good competition, and it doesn’t get any easier next week (at La Vega).” These games are forming us and making us what we are. We passed moral victories a long time ago in Lorena, though. The kids are hungry, and we need to win some football games.”
That put the Leopards ahead for the first time, 18-12, but Robinson got back even early in the fourth on a 10-yard Owens run around the right side.
Lorena marched into Robinson territory and punted the Rockets down to their own 3, and got the ball back immediately when quarterback Michael Davila tried to go deep and was picked off by Ryan Siler at the Robinson 35.
The Leopards couldn’t do anything with it, however, and the Rockets (2-0) made a fourth-down stop and then went on the game-winning drive.
A bad snap set Robinson back at their own 47 with a second-and-22, but it was helped out by a pass-interference call on third down. On the next play, Owens burst into the clear, juked a man and stiff-armed another at the 20 on his way to the end zone from 41 yards out.
Lorena had one last chance, and Poteet ran three times and completed three passes to get the Leopards to the Robinson 20 with plenty of time left. But he was stopped for no gain on second down, and his third- and fourth-down passes fell incomplete to dash any hope of a Lorena win.
Davila threw for 174 yards, but was intercepted twice and lost a fumble as well.