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Lions ground Falcons for district title

North Forney gives No. 1 Ennis a battle in championship game

Don Hullett
Daily Light correspondent

FORNEY — The Ennis Lions (7-0 overall and 3-0 in district) faced their toughest test so far this season, as they traveled to North Forney (7-0 overall and 4-0 in district) on Thursday night for a match up of undefeated teams in District 8-5A. The Lions won, 38-14, to clinch the District 8-5A (II) championship and the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A Division II playoffs.

Ennis had to win without its outstanding set of receivers having a good game. Laylon Spencer was held to 1 catch for minus-1 yard, Skylan Simmons did not have a reception at all, and the only bright spot for the group was Karon Smith with 4 receptions for 81 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Lions won the toss and elected to take the ball to start the game. It took the Lions one minute off the clock and just 4 plays to cover 73 yards, as RB De’ivian Johnson scampered in from 22 yards out, and with Angel Aguilar adding the extra point it was quickly 7-0. The Falcons received the ensuing kickoff and marched smartly down the field in 13 plays that covered 74 yards to bring the game even, when quarterback Jacob Acuna sprinted in from 5 yards out. Brandon Murphy tacked on the extra point to tie the game at 7 all. It all-of-a-sudden seemed to be a close game, until the Lions then scored 2 TD’s within a span of 2 minutes, the first coming on a Collin Drake 17-yard run and the extra point was good.

North Forney was unable to gain any yardage on their next possession by running 5 plays and losing 6 yards. The Falcons then attempted to punt from their own 8-yard line, but when the snap was low, the punter fumbled the ball in the end zone where it was recovered by Lions defensive end Jarveon Williams for the score, with Aguilar’s extra point. That made the score 21-7 in favor of the Lions.

That is where the score stayed with both defenses adopting the bend-but-not-break plan. Ennis was the next to score as their drive stalled out on the Falcons 25 yard line and Aguilar was called on for a 35-yard field goal, making the score 24-7 with 9 minutes to go in quarter No. 3. North Forney then put its last points for the evening on the board as Acuna scored his second touchdown, this one from 3 yards out and with the extra point by Ricky Cortez. The Falcons had closed the gap to 24-14.

The Ennis defense took the game over from that point and shut down the Falcons attack. Ennis finished out the scoring with a Drake to Smith hook up that spanned 41 yards, and with the Aguilar extra point, the tally was now 31-14. Then, after forcing another Falcon punt, Ennis took over on its own 7-yard line and marched 13 plays to traverse the remaining 93 yards with De’ivian Johnson getting his final score of the night, this one from 38 yards out. The Aguilar kick closed the book on the scoring and the Falcons, at that point.

North Forney was led by quarterback Jacob Acuna, who was 12 of 28 for 189 yards and 1 interception. Acuna also added 15 carries for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Ty Collins added 98 yards on 26 carries. Wideout Kristan Aricheta had 4 receptions for 92 yards.

The Lions were led by De’ivian Johnson with 18 carries for 134 yards and 2 scores, QB Collin Drake proved that if he cannot light-up a defense with pin-point passing, then he can beat you with his feet, as he had 18 carries for 99 yards and 1 TD.

The Lions will play again at home on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., when they host the Greenville Lions (4-2 overall and 2-1 in district action) at Lions Memorial Stadium. The Falcons will play Royse City (4-2 overall and 3-0 in district) on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m., at a site to be determined.