ENNIS — Taking the field in week zero of the Texas high school football season, the Ennis Lions looked to be on a mission in their season opener at Lions Memorial Stadium.
South Oak Cliff had other plans, though, as the Golden Bears knocked off the Lions 29-28. Rickey Wren scored the game-winning touchdown with zeros on the fourth-quarter clock.
South Oak Cliff (SOC) won the opening coin toss and elected to defer. After the initial kickoff, the Lions started on their own 40-yard line. From there, Ennis drove the field and easily took a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the 2017 season when senior running back Tycen Thompson galloped into the end zone from 5 yards out with 8:07 to play on the first-quarter clock.
Quarterback Sean Simms had a solid night of leading his Golden Bears. South Oak Cliff returned Ennis’ favor when Simms called his own number for a 7-yard run. The extra point attempt was no good after ringing off the uprights and falling harmlessly to the ground. Ennis led 7-6 with 5:22 to play in the first quarter.
As the first quarter ended, Trevor Oakley split the uprights for a 24-yard field goal and 10-6 Ennis lead.
Both teams experienced a few miscues on their following possession, and with 2:55 left in the first half, the Lion’s K.D. Davis made a first-down catch and tough run afterward to get Ennis down to the Golden Bear's 22-yard line.
Junior running back James Harris made a couple of excellent runs for the Lions. Then, after senior quarterback Kade Graff was pressured by the Bear defense, forced out of the pocket and scrambled for a 14-yard gain, Thompson dashed in from the one-yard line for his second touchdown of the evening.
The two-point conversion attempt was good by James Harris. Sending the teams into the halftime locker room with the Lions ahead, 18-6.
South Oak Cliff took the kickoff to begin the third quarter and quickly marched down the field.
The Bears attempted a fourth-and-3 and easily converted with a nice run by Cedric Tatum. Simms reached the end zone for a touchdown soon after to cap a 66-yard drive to start the 2nd half. The score pulled the Golden Bears within five, 18-13.
After some tough, physical runs by both of Ennis’ leading rushers, Thompson and Harris, Graff threw a lateral pass behind the line of scrimmage that was recovered by SOC. The Golden Bears took over at the 50-yard line.
After a long pass completion by the Simms, SOC was on the 31-yard line of the Lions. The Golden Bears kept the momentum going until Ennis’ defense stiffened and forced them to settle for a field goal. With the ball on Ennis 20-yard line, kicker Paw Htoo converted a 35-yard field goal to make the score 18-16 in favor of the Lions with 3:17 to play in the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession at the end of the quarter, Ennis failed on a third-and-five attempt, forcing the Lions to punt the football for the first time in the game.
With the onset of the final quarter of play, SOC made it down to the Ennis 21-yard line. The Lions got tagged for a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty — plus another 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul assessed against the Ennis sideline — to put the Golden Bears deep into enemy territory.
K.C. Cook then carried the rock in for a 6-yard touchdown with 11:10 on the fourth-quarter clock. The touchdown and Htoo extra point gave the Golden Bears their first lead of the ballgame, 23-18, and completed a 17-0 run.
Ennis took over and enjoyed some real success again at running the football, which culminated in an exciting 66-yard breakaway run by Lion running back James Harris. The touchdown put the Lions back on top, 26-23 after Thompson converted the two-point conversion.
The intensity of both teams escalated throughout the game, with SOC ending the evening with 11 penalties for 105 yards, while Ennis had five penalties for 64 yards. With SOC feeling continued fourth quarter defensive pressure from the Lions, on 3rd and 15 a long pass play was broken-up by a Lions defender and the punt after was botched. The ball squirted out of the back of the end zone for a safety to put the Lions on top, 28-2 with 6:35 to play.
After another barrage of penalties by both teams, a crucial third-and-18 pass fell incomplete for the Lions, forcing an Ennis punt.
The oddities continued until SOC called its final timeout to regroup on fourth-and-3 with the football on the Golden Bears' 35-yard line. Quarterback Simms crashed the line. He then completed a 48-yard pass and run to LaDerrick Smith to move deep into Lion territory.
With 3 seconds on the game clock, Cook worked his magic again, squirming his way into the Lions end zone for the 29-28 SOC win.
For Ennis, Graff finished 10-for-16 for 54 yards. Harris led the way on the ground with 10 carries for 119 yards, while Thompson added 19 carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Santos led the receiving core with three catches for 52 yards.
The Lions travel to Tyler for their first road test of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.