Lorena dominates Brock to earn their second state championship in program history
Thursday, 16th December 2021 - 3:55PM

Garrett Ross

Behind a valiant defensive performance, the #5 Lorena Leopards (14-2) defeated #2 Brock (15-1) 35-18 at AT&T Stadium on Thursday afternoon to claim the 3A DI State Championship. Despite not having star running back Reed Michna available, the Leopards dominated Brock from the opening kick.

For most programs, not having one of your star 1,000 plus yard rushers available in the state championship could be disastrous, but Lorena was able to overcome that as was Michna unable to play due to a nagging ankle injury.

While Michna was a no-go, senior running back Rhett Hanson put the Leopards on his back, which earned him the Offensive MVP Award. Hanson finished the day with 28 carries for 196-yards and 3 touchdowns.

Hanson was able to cap off an 8-play, 66-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that set the tone for Lorena. The Leopards defense then put the clamps on Brock’s offense on the following possession.

Facing 3rd-and-9, Brock was forced to punt after a pass sailed too high for Minnesota commit Nate Jones. However, an excellent punt by the Eagles sets the Leopards up at their own 2-yard line. Lorena would establish some offensive rhythm and force the Eagles to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, Hanson broke loose for a 54-yard touchdown run to put Lorena on top of Brock 14-0 with 5:12 remaining in the first quarter. Brock’s only hope of not letting things get out of hand was to get a lot more physical.

Brock would get on the board on the first play of the second quarter, as Kutter Wilson found the end zone from 3-yards out, but the PAT was no good. Following the Brock score, it was time for their defense to rise to the occasion.

A costly fumble by Hanson following a 20-yard strike on 3rd-&-10 was recovered by Brock at the Lorena 42-yard line. The Leopards defense would come to the rescue, as Baxter Bankston and Braylon Henry got back-to-back sacks for Lorena. Facing 3rd-&-25, the Lorena defense held and forced Brock to punt the football.

Not to be outdone, Brock’s defense turned up the energy late in the second quarter. Cooper Massey split the Lorena offensive line and blew up Lorena quarterback Ryne Able. The ball would come loose, but following a review Lorena would maintain possession.

The Leopards couldn’t recover from the loss of yards and were forced to punt the ball back to Brock with 1:29 remaining in the quarter. With just one timeout and 87-yards to go, the Eagles began to march.

Carter Wilson would explode past the Lorena defense on third down for a run of over 30-yards to put Brock into Lorena territory, but that’s as far as they would get. Lorena’s defense was able to force Brock into a Hail Mary situation that would fall incomplete as the half came to a close.

Coming out of halftime, Brock went 3-and-out on the opening possession of the quarter, then a terrible punt gave Lorena excellent field position. The Leopards set themselves up with a 1st-and-goal on a 34-yard run by Hanson.

Hanson would secure the hat trick, as he found the end zone for the third time on the day just two plays later, giving Lorena a 21-6 lead over the Eagles.

Brock would find some success on the ground midway through the third quarter, as they marched down the field against the Lorena defense. The Eagles would cap off the 7-play, 94-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Jones, but the two point conversion would fail.

Lorena would find themselves facing 3rd-and-11, late in the third quarter, but Dillon Muller would come away with an interception giving Brock a fresh set of downs and some momentum. Once again, it was the Leopard’s defense that forced a turnover on downs.

The Leopards wasted no time, as Ryan Able hit Jaydon Porter on a bomb to set the Leopard’s up at the four yard line. Able would cap the drive off with a 4-yard strike to Camden Brock that extended the Leopard’s lead to 28-12 with :27 remaining in the third quarter.

Lorena’s defense made arguably the play of the game with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Brock attempted to convert on a fake punt, but Henry would undercut Jones short of the yard to gain to give Lorena the ball in Brock territory.

Some quick thinking by Hanson sealed the deal for Lorena, as he pitched the ball to Casen Pitts as he was being tackled. Pitts would run through a Brock defender into the end zone, and Lorena would take a 35-12 lead over the Eagles with 3:19 remaining in the game.

The win would mark the second state championship in program history for Lorena (1987, 2021), and the 200th career win for head coach Ray Biles in 30 years at the helm.
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