Lions pounce Panthers in first home game of the season

Strong play shows from both sides of the ball

The Lions defense tackling a Pflugerville player. The defense would get six turnovers during the game.

November 8, 2013. The 38-36 victory at Marble Falls that sent the 2013-2014 Lions to the playoffs was the last win on the books. Until last night.

The Lions won their first home game of the season and snapped a 12-game losing streak with 33-21 against the Pflugerville Panthers. This would also be head coach Tim Smith’s first win as head coach of Leander.

“It is an indescribable feeling,” junior quarterback Parker McNeil said. “Having all of our work this off-season and summer finally pay off was incredible.”

The game started off with a Pflugerville score on their first play, making it 0-7 at the start of the game. On the ensuing kickoff, junior Jai Garcia returned the ball 55 yards to put the Lions on the 31. Then, junior Johnathan Spires would score, tying the game. Senior Cameron Paxton then intercepted the ball on the Panthers’ next drive and the offense drove down to the goal line. Junior Kyle Murdock added a field goal, making it 10-7 with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter.

“The team played their hearts out and never gave up,” senior Matthew Long said. “They did great, but we still need to improve on our game to be where we want to be.”

Later, Murdock would kick another field goal, giving the Lions a 13-7 lead with 5:55 in the second quarter. The Panthers would answer back by scoring a touchdown, taking a slim lead 13-14. The defense, led by Zeke Garcia and Alex Williams, forced a fumble and Paxton recovered the ball. At halftime, the score was 13-14 Pflugerville. 

I have never been more proud to be a Lion.

— Isaiah Turner

“We all got together in the locker room and encouraged each other to make plays,” senior Isaiah Turner said. “Then, with the motivational speeches from our coaches we felt invincible. Luckily it showed on the field.”

In the third quarter, senior Raymond Gibson scored a touchdown to give the Lions a 20-14 lead. Murdock went 3-3 on field goals, making it 23-14 with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter. The Panthers answered back by scoring another touchdown on a long pass play, closing the Leander lead to 23-21. On their next drive, McNeil gave the ball to Long and he scored a rushing touchdown to give the Lions a 30-21 lead. In the next drive Turner picked off the Panther quarterback for the Lions at the 29 yard line. Murdock kept his perfect record and added 3 points, making it 33-21 with 5:35 remaining in the game.

“It feels incredible,” Turner said. “I’m glad I could do my part.”

In another Panther drive, Turner caught his second interception of the night. After a Lion drive stalled, the Panthers took over, and with a 1:46 to go senior Chris Patek intercepted the ball, sealing the victory for the Lions.

“There is always room for improvement,” Turner said. “As a whole I think we did a great job executing. I have never been more proud to be a Lion.”

Next week, the Lions take on Rouse (0-2) for their homecoming game at Bible Stadium at 7:30 p.m.