MANSFIELD, Texas — A frigid Friday night inside Vernon Newsom Stadium pitted two of the best from District 10-5A in Mansfield Legacy and Mansfield Lake Ridge. What started as a defensive tussle turned into a break through for Lake Ridge, who rallied with 21 fourth-quarter points to defeat Legacy 28-17 and put them in the driver’s seat for the District 10-5A title.
The Lake Ridge defense finished the night with four takeaways and only allowed quarterback Jalen Catalon to finish with eight completions on his 24 attempts. Despite Lake Ridge having five turnovers themselves, the defense never allowed Legacy to increase their 10-7 lead and kept the game manageable until the offense came to life in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the defense played great. Our offense wasn’t clicking like it should. We made some plays but we turned the ball over a lot and that’s not good but our defense made some big plays when they had to,” said Lake Ridge head coach Kirk Thor. “Legacy is a great football team. We knew it was going to be a battle so I’m really proud of our defense.”
The opening drive for Mansfield Lake Ridge yielded positive results and could not have gone any better for the Eagles. Led by quarterback Chandler Rogers, the Eagles got a boost of offensive energy in just four plays and less than 90 seconds into the game. Rogers zipped a quick pass over to wide receiver Malik Knowles and he did the rest, finding his way into the end zone for the 30-yard touchdown reception to put Lake Ridge up 7-0 early.
As quick as it took Lake Ridge to score, Mansfield Legacy scored even quicker. Jalen Catalon launched a deep ball to wide receiver Ife Adeyi on Legacy’s first play from scrimmage that was good for 84 yards and placed Legacy at the 12. Two plays later, running back Grant Johnson ran it in the end zone from six yards out to tie the game at 7.
But what looked to be a shootout quickly turned into a defensive struggle. The tale of the game would then slowly begin to shift to whose defense would be able to hold their ground more soon after. That’s when the turnover bug struck for both teams.
Legacy defensive back Ralen Troupe intercepting a Rogers throw to place the ball back in the hands of his offense in the first quarter but that was only the beginning.
It would be the second Legacy interception that gave way for the Broncos to take the lead after defensive back Jarred Hopper crashed down on the intended receiver and brought down the tipped pass to place Legacy at their own 2-yard line.
Both quarterback Jalen Catalon and running back Grant Johnson would split the duties in leading their team down the field as Legacy orchestrated a 13-play drive that overlapped into the second quarter and ended on a 35-yard FG made by Ife Adeyi to make it 10-7.
It would remain the same going to the fourth quarter as both teams gave each other fits and turnovers became abundant. Lake Ridge had two mishaps on their special teams unit as a 32-yard field goal before the half was missed and a field goal attempt was blocked to keep Legacy on top through two more quarters. Both teams accounted for nine total turnovers on the night.
Lake Ridge regained in the fourth quarter of the game when Knowles snagged his second touchdown reception of the night from 24 yards out to put the score at 14-10.
Now with the fourth quarter lead and a breakthrough, Lake Ridge looked to deliver some momentum changing haymakers and would do so as the kickoff unit responded and provided the blow needed to begin to wear out and down Legacy.
A return attempt on a shallow kickoff saw the ball bounce and slip right through the hands of the return man as Lake Ridge swarmed to the loose ball and recovered it at the Legacy 20 to put them in scoring position and have Legacy feel the weight on their feet begin to creep towards their heels.
The Lake Ridge offense would repay the efforts of their kickoff unit by punching the ball in four plays later when running back Dewone Walker from 4-yards out capped off a series of plays that saw Lake Ridge take the 21-10 lead.
The Lake Ridge offense would score once more in the fourth quarter as Malik Knowles returned a punt for 59 yards that allowed Cartraven Walker to score from 5-yards out and have Lake Ridge go up 28-10 with 5:43 left to play.
Lake Ridge finished with 433 total yards of offense with both Jason Bean and Chandler Rogers throwing for a touchdown and throwing for 120 yards and 100 yards respectively. Malik Knowles finished with 71 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions while Cartraven Walker and Dewome Jackson’s fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns helped Lake Ridge remain undefeated in district play.
“I’m just really proud of our football team for battling,” Thor said, “It was tough and we had to go uphill for a way and they’re a good football team but I’m just proud of our kids for battling till the fourth quarter.”
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