Kaufman’s journey into the Class 5A playoffs was short-lived as the Lions lost to Lucas Lovejoy 45-29 in a bidistrict match Friday that featured almost 1,100 yards of offense.
The host Lions held the lead at halftime 20-17, but a pair of strange plays at the beginning of the second half handed the lead to Lovejoy, which it would not relinquish.
The Lions received the kickoff to start the second half. The kick appeared to be headed out of bounds on the Lions’ sideline.
But it landed softly just inside the boundary, where Lovejoy recovered to gain a short field at the Kaufman 20-yard line.
A pass to the 1-yard line appeared to be either incomplete or a fumble and recovery by the Lions as the ball came loose.
But the pass was ruled to be a catch, and Lovejoy scored on the next play to take the lead 24-20 with just 63 seconds elapsed.
Kaufman responded with a drive into Leopard territory but came up short on fourth down at the 24-yard line.
Lovejoy came back with a 76-yard drive to stretch the lead to 31-20.
Kaufman drove again but stalled inside the Lovejoy 10-yard line and got a 22-yard field from Yael Sandoval to get within 31-23 with 2:33 to go in the third quarter.
Kaufman stopped the next Lovejoy effort, aided by a Michael Glick break up on a screen pass.
Kaufman took over at its 12, and Charleston Miller hauled in a pass out to the 39 with 15 extra yards for a late hit.
Kaufman faced a 4th and 11 at the Lovejoy 24, and Trey Collier scrambled to the 11 for a first down.
Kevon Butler got the score around the left end. But the try for two to tie the score fell incomplete to leave Kaufman trailing 31-29 with 9:17 left to play.
Lovejoy got a good kickoff return up the left side to the Kaufman 43 and scored with 5:41 to go to expand the lead to 38-29.
Kaufman’s next drive fizzled, and the Leopards added a score with 2:43 to go for the final margin.
Lovejoy started the scoring on its opening drive with a 10-yard pass for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Then the teams traded scores in the second quarter.
Kaufman pulled within a point on a 1-yard run from Collier, but the try for two failed.
Lovejoy converted a 43-yard field goal to make it 10-6.
Kaufman struck quickly for its first lead when Butler outran the Leopards for 69 yards.
Sandoval added the PAT for a 13-10 lead with 4:58 left in the half.
With 2:20 to go Lovejoy retook the lead on a 5-yard run to go up 17-13.
Kaufman had the half’s final score on a 4-yard run from La’damian Bailey with 43 seconds left, making it 20-17. Passes to Gasper and Bailey aided the quick drive.
For the night Carson Collins threw 30 times for Lovejoy, completing 14 for 225 yards. Jahl Rainey ran it 38 times for 244 yards while Carson added 13 carries for 75 yards.
Lovejoy racked up 34 first downs and 583 yards of offense.
Trey Collier ran the ball 20 times for 155 yards and passed it 21 times, completing 11 for 187. Kevon Butler added 17 rushes for 127 yards.
Cecil Gasper caught five passes for 102 yards and Charleston Miller three for 54.
Kaufman had 25 first downs and 497 yards.
Kaufman ends the year at 7-3 and a runnerup finish in District 8-5A in its first year to compete in Class 5A.
Of the other three district teams in the playoffs, only district champion Corsicana advanced, stopping Lake Dallas 53-31. Next up will be Centennial for the area playoff this week.
Frisco defeated Sulphur Springs 41-14 and Frisco Reedy beat Ennis 47-21.
Lovejoy will face unbeaten and top-ranked Aledo in the area round Friday at 1 p.m. at Pennington Field in Hurst-Euless-Bedford.
The Bearcats were a 48-13 winner over Seagoville on Thursday. The Bearcats have been in seven of the last nine state championship games, winning six. Aledo lost 20-19 in last year’s championship.