BRYAN — Jordan Jenkins rushed for 274 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground and the Lindale Eagles overcame two turnovers in a wild first half to advance to the regional round of the playoffs for the first time in school history with a 70-56 victory over the Needville Blue Jays in a Class 4A Division I area playoff game Saturday afternoon at Merrill Green Stadium.
The senior four-star Baylor Bear commit also added a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter to give him nine total scores for the game. He also eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season.
Lindale (10-2) plays Chapel Hill in the regional semifinals next week. The playoff game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. Needville’s season comes to end with a 7-5 overall record.
“I’m ecstatic for our kids, coaches, high school and our community to make history by winning a second round playoff game. Adversity hit us in a big, big way in the first half that wasn’t expected but we earned a gritty victory against very good football team” fourth-year head coach Chris Cochran stated after the game.
The two teams erupted for 77 points and over 600 yards of offense in the first half that featured six lead changes. Needville capitalized on two Lindale fumbles in the first and second quarters and turned them into 14 points. The second fumble resulted in a 65-yard scoop and score by Blue Jay defensive back Cole Todd with 32 seconds remaining in the second quarter that gave the Blue Jays a 42-35 halftime lead.
Needville running back Walker Wanrncke returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Blue Jays lead to 49-35. Not to be totally outdone by Jenkins, the senior running back put on an impressive performance by rushing for 236 yards and five total touchdowns. It was not enough as the Eagles’ offense took advantage of great field position provided by the defense and scored 28 unanswered points to take an insurmountable lead, 63-49 late in the fourth quarter.
Like they have done throughout the season, the Eagles’ defense swarmed and pressured the Jays’ quarterback, Trevor Baker, in the second half as well as limited Warncke to 63 yards rushing after intermission. Jaymond Jackson, Daniel Benitez, Colton Widemon, Omarr Webber and Braxton Field led the charge as the Birds forced the Blue Jays to punt or turn the ball over on downs on six straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters. Arik Williams continued his outstanding leadership in the secondary by contributing multiple tackles for losses and adding the backbreaking 58-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the Eagles’ lead to 21 points.
Lindale quarterback Sam Peterson passed for 143 yards and ran for 40 more but most impressively, retuned for the second half after taking a very hard hit at the end of the first half. Peterson also serviced four punts for the Eagles averaging 40 yards while his counter part, Baker, only averaged 25 yards that contributed to favorable field position for Eagles.