For the last two weeks, Sweetwater’s football team has seen slim first-half leads turn into a double-digit deficits.
For the last two weeks, the Mustangs have also been able to fight back and give themselves a chance to pull out a big win at home.
However, the last two weeks has also seen Sweet-water fall short of that goal.
Now, after losing 35-30 to Brownwood, the Mustangs (2-3) will probably welcome this week’s open date prior to their District 4-3A opener against Snyder on Oct. 11.
For all the good things Sweetwater did on Friday against Brownwood, there was plenty of bad as well.
The offense had another big night with 447 yards, thanks mostly to quarterback Kaegan Jeffrey, who threw for a career-high 406 yards and had five touchdown passes to five different receivers. But Sweetwater also had a season-high four turnovers, and with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, the offense came up empty.
Sweetwater gave itself a final chance by forcing a turnover with 2:21 to play after Brownwood had driven to the Mustangs’ 10-yard line. Lions’ quarterback Chris Keesee fumbled after being hit by Sweetwater’s Kaleb Hoover, and teammate James Clift fell on the loose ball at the 24.
But two incomplete pas-ses and consecutive sacks forced the Mustangs to give it back to Brownwood, which ran out the clock to clinch the victory.
Sweetwater took leads of 6-0 and 12-7 in a back-and-forth first quarter, and it was still 12-7 at halftime after a scoreless second quarter in which both teams missed golden opportunities.
Sweetwater had first-and-goal at Brownwood’s 8 only to throw three straight incompletions and have a 25-yard field goal attempt blocked (with a subsequent Brownwood return for two points denied by a penalty). The Lions also had a 29-yard TD pass called back due to a holding penalty.
In the first quarter, Sweetwater had an 82-yard TD pass reception by Hoover and a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Isaiah McGee denied by penalties, though the Mustangs did eventually score after the penalty on Hoover on a 14-yard pass from Jeffrey to Colton Belew.
Things completely fell apart for Sweetwater in the third quarter, though, at least for awhile, as Brown-wood scored 21 unanswered points for a 28-12 lead.
First, the Lions drove 61 yards in nine plays following the second half kickoff to regain the lead, 14-12.
Then, Sweetwater turn-overs on consecutive pos-sessions — first a lost fumble caused by a high snap over Jeffrey’s head and then an interception plus a personal foul penalty on the Mustangs that resulted in a player ejection —led to very short fields for Brownwood and two more touchdowns to make it 28-12.
But Sweetwater didn’t give up. The Mustangs came back with a quick five-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard TD pass to Michael Lawrence to get Sweetwater within 10 before the third quarter ended.
Then the defense forced a Brownwood punt, and on their third offensive play, the Mustangs scored again to get within 28-24.
Jeffrey completed about a 10-yard pass to Hoover on the left sideline, but Hoover avoided tacklers the rest of the way while managing to stay in bounds as he com-pleted a spectacular 69-yard play for the touchdown.
Two Sweetwater penal-ties on the ensuing kickoff allowed Brownwood to start from the Mustangs’ 45, and once again the Lions took advantage of the short field to score. Braxton Kilgo, who rushed for a game-high 149 yards, ran over the touch-down from 3 yards out to give Brownwood a 35-24 lead with 8:04 to play.
Jeffrey went back to work, though, as he completed two first-down passes to Lawrence and one to McGee before hitting J’Corey Amos, Bray’s brother, for the TD from 10 yards out with 5:26 left. A two-point pass failed — Sweetwater was 0-for-5 Friday on extra point conversions — but the Mustangs were still just one score from a potential win.
The game lasted well over three hours, which has be-come common for Sweet-water this season. But it wasn’t just the scoring, as penalties also played a big role in the game’s length. The teams were penalized 27 times for 272 yards.
Sweetwater’s first score came on a 10-yard pass to Bray Amos, his 12th TD reception of the season and his 14th touchdown overall.