Kaufman’s first 5A high school football playoff game will be held in Kaufman, thanks to a new rule that gives higher seeds the home field advantage in the first round.
Kaufman’s 28-26 win over Forney in last week’s regular season finale gave the Lions the district’s second seed and the right to host this week’s bidistrict game with Lucas Lovejoy.
This is Kaufman’s first year in Class 5A, and the home field rule went into effect this year for 5A. It was implemented in 6A last year.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lions Stadium.
Coach Jeramy Burleson said Lovejoy is a good football team that will fly around the field and be in the right position. They are well coached and will give Kaufman a tough contest.
Lovejoy was in a similar position to Kaufman headed into the final week of the regular season, with playoff seeding up in the air.
Lovejoy finished District 7-5A with a 6-2 record and in third place, behind 8-0 Reedy and tied with 6-2 Frisco, which had to win Friday just to make the playoffs. Frisco edged Lovejoy 48-45.
Forney was in the same position – win or miss the playoffs – and gave Kaufman everything it had, including converting two of four onside kicks.
Burleson said the Lions practiced onside kick defense all week, but the bounces went Forney’s way, allowing them to score the potential tying touchdown only to fail on the two-point conversion.
“They were pulling out all the stops,” Burleson said.
Kaufman will need to play Kaufman football, Burleson said, and will have a chance to win this week’s game.
That includes eliminating turnovers, which have hurt the Lions in the past three games with 10 total giveaways.
“If we can do that, we will have a chance to win,” he said.
The winner will take on the winner between Seagoville and top-ranked and heavily favored Aledo.
Burleson said that would be exciting for the Lions, to take on the number one team in the state.
Kaufman took the lead 7-0 Friday midway through the first quarter on a three-yard run by Trey Collier and Yael Sandoval’s extra point kick.
Forney tied it moments later with a running score.
Kaufman retook the lead with a drive ended by Collier taking it in from a yard. The Sandoval kick made it 14-7.
Collier scored again in the second quarter on a 25-yard run, and Sandoval put the Lions up 21-7, which remained the score at the half.
A late Forney drive was stopped with a Collier interception.
Forney opened the second half with an onside kick, recovered by Kaufman.
The teams traded interceptions followed by a Kaufman fumble.
Forney drove for a field goal to make it 21-10 and recovered the onside kick to set up another field goal, closing the gap to 21-13.
Kaufman drove the next possession for a fourth-quarter score with Billy Pullen taking it in from the 11 to give the Lions a 28-13 lead.
The Lions halted the next Forney drive and then punted it back with under five minutes. Forney struck for an 80-yard touchdown pass to pull with 28-20 and executed another onside kick.
The Jackrabbits scored, but the Lions stopped the two-point try to preserve the lead.
Kaufman recovered the ensuing onside attempt and ran out the clock.
For the night La’damian Bailey ran for 112 yards on 22 carries, Collier 13 for 109 and Cecil Gasper three for 24.
Collier completed four of 10 passes for 41 yards, with Gasper hauling in three for 29 yards.
Defensive leaders were Montana Booker with eight tackles, Chris Davidson and Michael Glick with seven tackles each, John Maldonado with 6.5 tackles, Pullen with six tackles and a pick off, Collier with five tackles and a pick, Pedro Cortez and Colton Roeder with 3.5 tackles apiece and Angel Juarez, Gasper and Jalen Fields with three each.