AUSTIN — La Vega came to play again. So, too, though did Austin LBJ.
The homestanding and fourth-ranked Jaguars capitalized on several La Vega miscues, including a fourth-quarter drop that led to an interception, to topple the third-ranked Pirates, 28-7, on Friday night.
La Vega (2-1), which had won its first two games by a combined score of 116-21, found the road much more challenging to traverse against LBJ (3-0), a 2020 state semifinalist. But the Pirates were never out of the game. However, a tipped interception and a turnover on downs in the final quarter neutralized La Vega’s chances of mounting a comeback after falling behind two scores.
Those are some blemishes the Pirates will look to clean up before next week, when No. 1 Argyle comes to Bellmead for a revival of that rousing nondistrict rivalry.
The teams fought to a 7-7 tie through two quarters, but the Jaguars made the key plays necessary to gain some second-half separation. Sedrick Alexander rushed for 102 hard-earned yards for LBJ in the game along with two touchdowns, including a late 3-yard TD to ice it.
La Vega, meanwhile, couldn’t ever get on track offensively in the second half. The Pirates had four punts in the third quarter alone, which led to some long stretches on the field for the La Vega defense. The Pirates were limited to just 87 yards rushing and 143 of total offense.
After La Vega stifled LBJ on the Jaguars’ first couple of possessions, including a turnover on downs, the home team finally broke up the shutout late in the first half. They drove downfield and this time capped it off nicely with a 3-yard touchdown by Alexander. That gave LBJ a 7-0 lead with 4:30 remaining in the opening half.
The Pirates scuffled along against LBJ’s fierce defensive front themselves for most of the first half, but finally responded with the big play they needed. On a 3rd-and-19 play, Nik Sanders connected with a wide-open Mekhi Rice over the middle. Rice added about 15 more yards after the catch to take the ball down to the LBJ 10-yard line with around 90 seconds to play in the first half.
La Vega didn’t let that golden scoring chance slip away, either. Moments later, Sanders found Stephon Nickerson on a 6-yard slant for the score. The ensuing extra point tied things up at 7 with 1:15 to go before the break, and that’s the way it would remain at intermission.
LBJ busted some big runs in the second half, including a 42-yard jaunt by Phazzon Washington that set up his own 2-yard TD plunge moments later, giving the Jaguars a 14-7 edge at the 4:48 mark of the third.
Following a La Vega punt, the Jags needed precious little time to score again. They went 64 yards in just two plays, helped along by a La Vega 15-yard penalty. Cyronn Miller cashed in with a 20-yard TD scamper to extend the LBJ lead to 21-7.
Then in the fourth, Alexander pushed in a late score to cement the win for the home team.