Vandals lose district title game to Kaufman, 43-35

After falling behind early in the contest, the Van Vandals attempted several comeback efforts but could never get over the hump and as a result, the Kaufman Lions are the District 8-4A, Division I champions after holding off previously undefeated Van, 43-35, Friday night in Kaufman.

Coach Jared Moffatt’s Vandals are now 8-1 overall and 4-1 in district play as they will try to bounce back in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday when they host the 2-3 Terrell Tigers in the regular season and district season finale at Van’s Memorial Stadium.

Regardless of the outcome in the Van/Terrell matchup, the Vandals will represent District 8-4A, Division I as the runner-up team in post-season play.

Kaufman finishes its regular season schedule with a 9-1 mark to go along with a perfect 6-0 record in district play as they will enjoy its bye week prior to its first round matchup in the upcoming Class 4A state playoffs.

Van’s defense had no answers for Lion quarterback Trey Collier who finished with 278 yards rushing on 18 carries and four rushing touchdowns. Collier’s per carry average against the Vandals was a staggering 15.4 yards. The junior QB also completed three out of four passes for 106 yards and one TD.

The Vandals were led offensively by receiver Ethan Robinson with nine receptions for 87 yards and three TD’s. Receiver Gus Brewer contributed six receptions for 92 yards and one TD.

Senior QB Garrett Moseley completed 21 out 46 passes for 217 yards, four TD’s and two interceptions. Moseley also ran for 117 yards on 21 carries and one TD.

While Van ran more offensive plays, 76-39, and gained more first downs, 27-14, than Kaufman, the Lions held the upper hand in total yards, 452-401. The Lions finished with 346 yards rushing against the Vandals.

Following a Vandal punt, it took the Lions two offensive plays to move 37 yards for the first score of the contest as Collier ran 30 yards for a TD giving Kaufman an early 6-0 advantage with 9:28 remaining in the first quarter. The two-point conversion running attempt by running back Devyn Morris failed.

After another Vandal punt, it was another two-play offensive drive for the Lions, this time totaling 91 yards as Collier stunned Van’s defense with an 89-yard TD run. Oscar Morales added the extra point and suddenly, the Lions had a 13-0 lead with 6:45 to play in the first quarter.

Van’s offense settled in on its next series and cut into the Kaufman lead as the Vandals moved 63 yards in six plays to get on the scoreboard.

The scoring drive ended when Moseley connected with Brewer on a 32-yard TD pass play. Calen McKinney added the extra point to cut Van’s deficit to 13-7 with 4:28 remaining in the first quarter.

Running gains of 10 yards by RB Davonta Johnson and 11 yards by Moseley set up the first TD for the Vandals.

The Lions responded by advancing 85 yards in seven plays to extend their lead as Morris ended the march with a 4-yard TD run giving Kaufman a 19-7 lead with 1:15 still remaining in the first quarter. The extra point attempt by Kaufman was blocked by the Vandals.

A 29-yard run by Collier and a 55-yard pass completion from Collier to Cecil Gasper were key plays in the Kaufman scoring drive.

Van came right back with a 60-yard march in 11 plays as Moseley ended the time-consuming march with a 1-yard TD run. McKinney added the extra point cutting Kaufman’s lead to 19-14 with 8:42 to play in the second quarter.

Running gains of 12 yards by Johnson and 16 yards by Moseley helped the Vandals advance down the playing field.

The Vandals comeback attempt strengthened on the next offensive series for the Lions as Collier fumbled with Van linebacker Beau Thompson recovering the loose football at the Lion 35.

Van’s offense was unable to take advantage of the opportunity to potentially take the lead as a holding penalty against the Vandals later forced a punting situation.

Following a poor Vandal punt, the Lions moved 65 yards in six plays to get on the scoreboard again as Collier ran 22 yards for a TD. Hagen Shaw added the extra point giving the Lions a 26-14 advantage with 3:04 remaining before halftime.

The next play from scrimmage for the Vandals resulted in a turnover as Moseley’s pass over the middle was intercepted by Gasper and returned to the Van 4-yard line.

Van’s defense rose to the occasion forcing the Lions to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Shaw on fourth down and goal extending Kaufman’s lead to 29-14 with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter.

The Vandals rallied with a near perfect two-minute drill as they moved 78 yards in nine plays to draw closer before halftime as Moseley connected with Robinson on a 5-yard TD play on the final play of the first half. McKinney added the extra point as Van’s deficit was only eight points, 29-21, at halftime.

Key plays in the Vandal TD drive just before halftime included an 18-yard run by Moseley and pass completions from Moseley covering 11 yards each to receiver Bray Doring and Robinson and 27 yards to Brewer.

Kaufman received the third quarter kickoff and matched what they did with its first possession of the opening half by moving 75 yards in four plays to extend its lead.

Collier ended the march with a 62-yard TD run. Shaw added the extra point giving the Lions a 36-21 advantage with 10:23 remaining in the third quarter.

Showing no signs of giving up, the Vandal offense responded by moving 69 yards in 12 plays to once again get within striking distance of the Lions.

The drive ended with Moseley connecting with Robinson on a 20-yard TD pass play. McKinney added the extra point to pull to within eight points of Kaufman, 36-28, with 4:24 to play in the third quarter.

An 11-yard run by Moseley, a 12-yard pass completion from Moseley to Brewer and two defensive penalties against Kaufman (offsides and illegal procedure) helped set up the TD pass play.

Following a Kaufman punt, the Vandals were set up 67 yards away from possibly taking the lead for the first time but Van was only able to advance the ball as keep as the Lion 44 as a fourth down and nine pass attempt from Moseley to Brewer was incomplete giving the ball back to Kaufman.

Seven plays later, on third down and 16, Collier connected with Gasper on a 41-yard TD pass play. Shaw added the extra point giving Kaufman a 43-28 lead with 9:29 to play in the fourth quarter.

Van moved from its own 27 to the 46 in nine plays but on fourth down and three, Moseley’s pass was intercepted by Gasper at the Lion 43.

After a Kaufman punt, the Vandals would make one final attempted comeback as they moved 72 yards in 11 plays for their last TD drive of the game.

The Moseley to Robinson passing combination was good for 15 yards and a TD to end the march. McKinney added the extra point cutting Kaufman’s lead again to eight points, 43-35, with 1:42 remaining in the game.

Following a failed onside kick attempt by the Vandals, the Lions gained one first down rushing before running out the clock to claim the district championship.