In a back-and-forth game, Mansfield Lake Ridge seized the final momentum swing.
Dewone Jackson fought his way into the end zone from two yards out for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:22 to go and the defense held Mansfield the rest of the way for a 37-30 victory in a 7-6A game Friday night at Newsom Stadium.
Lake Ridge (5-2, 4-1) entered the game in a five-way tie atop the district standings, but continuing to win is vital since only four teams from each district make the playoffs.
“I was very determined to score, because we needed that touchdown,” said Jackson, who rushed for a team-high 54 yards.
Mansfield (2-6, 1-4) quarterback Hunt Young scored on a 1-yard sneak with 8:05 remaining to tie the score at 30. The Tigers reeled off 23 straight points at one point in the first half and led 23-17 at the half.
On the kickoff following Mansfield’s tying TD, Lake Ridge returner Tameron Derrough fielded the kick at his own 30 and raced all the way to the Mansfield 1. He was a yard short of scoring the Eagles’ second kick return touchdown of the game. Darius Houston returned the game’s opening kick 78 yards for the score.
Starting at the Mansfield 1, the Eagles lost a yard on first down, as Jackson was met in the backfield. But he ran outside on second down, fighting through a hit at the 2 and spinning into the end zone.
That score nudged Lake Ridge ahead 37-30 and the defense forced a Mansfield punt and a turnover on downs down the stretch to hold off the Tigers’ comeback bid.
Game was over when: The Lake Ridge defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3 from the Mansfield 35 with under a minute to play.
Play of the game: Keylan Johnson caught just two passes for Lake Ridge, but both went for touchdowns. The second reception was a 9-yard fade in which a defender screened his view of the ball. Somehow Johnson never lost track of the rock and hauled it in for a 30-23 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Offensive player of the game: Even though Mansfield came up short, running back Jason Littleberry kept the Tigers within striking distance. He rushed 25 times for a game-high 155 yards and scored a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Lake Ridge keyed on Littleberry all second half, but that attention opened things up for Young to complete a few throws and rush for the game-tying touchdown with eight minutes to play.
Defensive player of the game: Houston recovered a first-quarter fumble in Mansfield territory. Lake Ridge didn’t score on the ensuing drive. But with Mansfield dominating on the ground throughout the first half – netting three first-half rushing TDs, that turnover put a temporary halt to the Tigers’ effective rushing attack. Houston is also the player who scored on a kick return on the game’s opening play.
Unsung hero of the game: Lake Ridge quarterback Adrian Hawkins passed for 223 and three touchdowns, helping Lake Ridge score 20 straight points after trailing by 13 late in the first half.
What’s next? Mansfield travels to Cedar Hill at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2. Lake Ridge travels to the Gopher/Warrior Bowl to play Gran Prairie at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2.