The way Jason Strunk expected to follow up on his first win as Lubbock High’s head coach, he probably had Thursday night in mind.
It just came a week later.
Layven Armendariz tossed four second-half touchdown passes and ran for another, and the Westerners earned their first district victory in almost three years with a 47-38 win over Plainview at Lowrey Field.
“It just all clicked,” Armendariz said. “That’s about it. It just all clicked. It’s the best feeling ever. I can’t explain it.”
It’s the first district win for LHS (2-4, 1-0 in District 4-4A) since Oct. 23, 2009 at San Angelo Central and the first home district win since a 25-23 defeat of Midland Lee on Sept. 11 of that year, when the seniors on the 2012 team were just freshmen.
In between the Central game and Thursday night, LHS had lost 12 straight district games and 26 of 27 overall.
“It’s gigantic,” Strunk said. “For them to respond tonight here in district, and we told them to get to the playoffs it starts now, it starts tonight. And they responded. I don’t know the last time we started 1-0 in district play but I’ll take it. It’s off the Richter scale.”
The last time a Lubbock High team started the district season with a win was 2002, a 17-12 victory over San Angelo Central.
Thursday’s victory came after a week of harping on the mistakes that cost LHS in a 20-point loss at Perryton — turnovers, penalties, mental miscues. On Thursday, there was really just one of those, a late second-half interception that allowed Plainview (2-4, 0-1) to tie the game right before halftime.
And when the Bulldogs took the opening kickoff of the second half and scored in three plays on a 37-yard run by quarterback Wes McCutcheon, it looked as though it would be a repeat of what happened against Perryton. But LHS quickly answered the Plainview score to tie the game, and that started a string of 28 consecutive points that put the Westerners firmly in control just barely into the fourth quarter.
“The great thing about this is we didn’t know how they were going to respond from Perryton,” Strunk said. “We felt we had a solid week of practice and focused on the things that were a problem, and we come out tonight and all those problems are gone. That’s a credit to our coaching staff and the job they did, and the kids responded to them. I love it.”
Armendariz was 9 of 16 passing for 97 yards in the first half but blew up in the second half. He started the half 7-for-7 for 145 yards with TD tosses of 5 yards to Erin Lopez, 39 yards to Brandon Hernandez and 36 yards to Bam Jackson, then added a 1-yard sneak for a score to put the Westerners up 41-20 3 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Armendariz’s final pass of the game sealed the win when he hit Dominique Zuniga for a 61-yard touchdown with 8:20 left to put LHS up 47-26. He finished the game 17 of 26 through the air for 303 yards and four touchdowns while Hernandez rushed for 84 yards and a pair of first-half scores.
McCutcheon, who rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries, cut the lead to 47-38 with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Vera with 3:36 left. But Plainview was stopped on fourth down on its final drive, allowing LHS to run out the clock.
“Credit (Lubbock High), they wanted a district win and they got it,” Plainview coach Marcos Hinojos said. “They outplayed us, bottom line and I did a poor job of getting our team ready to play a district game in Lubbock.
“We did some things early offensively that hurt us and put us in a bind, but our defense kept us in the game. Then we come out in the second half and it just reversed on us. The offense moved the ball well and put it in the end zone and I’m not sure what happened (defensively). Honestly, I think you have to credit Lubbock High and their kids.”
Like the halftime score — 13-all — the first half was played to a virtual dead heat statistically. The Westerners outgained the Bulldogs by only 56 yards, 163-107, and each team converted an opponent turnover into points.
Lubbock High led 13-0 on Hernandez’s two touchdown runs of 5 and 6 yards, the first one set up when Plainview running back Daniel Miller fumbled the handoff on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage.
But Plainview came roaring back. A 5-yard McCutcheon TD run pulled Plainview to within 13-6, then late in the first half, Armendariz was intercepted by Tony Phan, who returned the pick to the LHS 9-yard line with under a minute to play. Shirmar Jennings converted the turnover into points two plays later to send the game into halftime tied.
The Westerners, however, came out of the intermission and promptly scored touchdowns on their first five drives of the second half to take control of the game, and eventually, earn the win.
“We’ve been waiting for that and finally we got it,” Strunk said of the second half. “Really, it was nothing Plainview was doing. We just stuck with our game plan, it just so happens that things opened up for us. The way Layven played tonight and Brandon, those are two gamers right there. That’s the way we want to play football. That’s the Westerner brand of football we’re bringing, I hope.”
To comment on this story:
email@example.com • 766-2166
firstname.lastname@example.org • 766-8700
LUBBOCK HIGH 47, PLAINVIEW 38
Plainview 0 13 7 18 — 38
Lubbock High 6 7 21 13 — 47
LHS — Brandon Hernandez 5 run (kick failed); 7:30
LHS — Hernandez 6 run (Ryan Rodriguez kick); 10:45
PLA — Wes McCutcheon 5 run (kick failed); 6:33
PLA — Shirmar Jennings 1 run (Paxstyn Oldfield kick); :46
PLA — McCutcheon 37 run (Oldfield kick); 10:27
LHS — Erin Lopez 5 pass from Layven Armendariz (Rodriguez kick); 9:34
LHS — Hernandez 39 pass from Armendariz (kick failed); 7:11
LHS — Bam Jackson 36 pass from Armendariz (Armendariz pass from Jackson); 4:39
LHS — Armendariz 1 run (Rodriguez kick); 11:57
PLA — McCutcheon 1 run (kick failed); 8:40
LHS — Dominique Zuniga 61 pass from Armendariz (kick failed); 8:20
PLA — Desmond Vera 6 pass from McCutcheon (pass failed); 3:36
First downs 15 23
Rushes-yards 48-257 37-105
Passing yards 21 303
Comp.-att.-int. 3-7-0 17-26-1
Punts-avg. 3-28.6 3-30.6
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-55 2-24
RUSHING: Plainview, Wes McCutcheon 23-153, Daniel Miller 10-69, Shirmar Jennings 10-23, Marvin Clayborne 3-9, Zack Ponder 1-2, Desmond Vera 1-1; Lubbock High, Brandon Hernandez 20-84, Charles Keller 2-22, Quentin Sapp 2-4, Bam Jackson 2-2, Layven Armendariz 11-(-7).
PASSING: Plainview, McCutcheon 3-7-0—21; Lubbock High, Armendariz 17-26-1—303
RECEIVING: Plainview, Karson Hembree 1-13, Vera 2-8; Lubbock High, Jackson 7-105, Dominique Zuniga 2-89, Hernandez 4-71, Anthony Martinez 3-38, Erin Lopez 1-5.