As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait and the Lindale Eagles’ patience was rewarded with a 31-27 victory over the Forney Jackrabbits at soggy Eagle Stadium this past Friday.
As lighting skittered throughout the area, officials pushed the start of the game back to 8:30 p.m. The weather thinned the crowd, but didn’t dampen the offensive enthusiasm of the Eagles who took the air more than 30 times which combined with an efficient ground attack to wear down the Jackrabbits in the second half.
“It’s difficult to sit around and wait,’’ said Lindale Head Coach Chris Cochran. “But our kids did a very good job of handling it. I thought we were able to use it to our advantage.’’
Forney broke a 7-7 halftime tie with two more TDs in the third period to build a 21-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. But the Eagles’ defense stiffened while the offense produced two touchdowns courtesy of sophomore running back Jordan Jenkins. He scored from 15 yards out with 8:48 left in the game to boost Lindale to a 24-21 lead and following a fumble recovery, scored again on a 14-yard burst up the middle to push the Eagle advantage to 31-21.
Lindale wide receiver Connor Boyette had his best game as a varsity player, snagging 11 passes for 120 yards.
“He’s one tough young man,’’ Cochran said, noting Boyette suffered a gash in his lower lip on a questionable defensive play by the Jackrabbits. “(Connor) was great in traffic and had a heck of a game for us.’’
Quarterback Dillon Heinaman, who connected on 13 straight passes in the second half, was another offensive standout Cochran said.
“Dillon was on target all night. He had just a couple of bad passes,’’ the coach said.
Jenkins accumulated more than 140 yards on 30 carries.
“He grew up right before our eyes,’’ said Cochran.
Defensively, standouts included Jaron Covey in the secondary, defensive end Matt Grady and lineman Jonah Flores.
Punter Cody Pike delivered when his team needed it most, nailing a 60-yarder with just over a minute left in the fourth period. The big boot pushed the Jackrabbits inside their own four with no time outs remaining.
This week the Eagles line up against blood rival Van, which fell to Gilmer 42-41 on Friday. The Vandals had a 41-20 lead at one point in that game.
“This will be a good test for us,’’ Cochran said. “They’ve got some really good athletes, especially in the defensive line and secondary.’’
Van’s success has translated into gaining valuable experience from high-pressure playoff contests.
“They are very well coached across the board and they are very sound,’’ Cochran said.
And then there’s the historic rivalry between the two schools.
“We’ve been stressing to our kids how much (the rivalry) means to our schools and the people in our community,’’ said Cochran.