Football coaches will tell you, there are no moral victories.
But when you’ve lost 40 in a row and you come close with a highly competitive effort, it just feels differently than a loss.
The Lions led Asbury twice in the second half after trailing 20-18 at halftime, but the Rams ultimately prevailed 36-30 for their second win of the season.
Brindlee Mountain fell to 0-7 but head coach Keith Garner said this was a game his team can build on. The Lions were in it until the very end.
“It was a positive,” Garner said. “Our schools are a lot alike and we felt going in it would be a competitive game.
“It went back and forth and came down to a handful of plays. Although it was disappointing to lose, I was extremely proud of the fight and determination of our players. We bounced back when we were down, but in the end, Asbury did what it took to win.”
Not only did the Lions carry the burden of the long losing streak, they also were affected by a bomb threat at the school the Monday of game week, followed on Wednesday by flooding that caused both Brindlee Mountain and Arab schools to close on Thursday and Friday.
“These guys have gone through a lot,” Garner said.
Asbury jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and it could’ve been worse. The Rams were driving to make it 21-0 but Ian Garner stripped the ball from an Asbury runner at the 6 and returned it 94 yards for a TD to make it 14-6.
“That started the back and forth,” Garner said.
Caleb Ford scored on a short run and Garner, the Lions’ quarterback, ran one in from 15 yards out to make it 20-18 at the half.
Garner scored again on a 10-yard run to give the Lions a 24-20 lead early in the third quarter. Garner then elected to try an onsides kick and it worked, but the Lions couldn’t convert the big lead into a score.
“If we get up two scores there, I think the momentum would’ve swung our way,” Garner said.
Still in the third quarter, Asbury converted a Brindlee Mountain turnover into a TD that made it 28-24 after the two-point conversion.
Early in the fourth quarter, Garner passed to Caleb Scott, who made a great jump-ball catch and eluded several would-be tacklers to take it 64 yards to the end zone to give Brindlee Mountain the lead 30-28.
Asbury answered with a TD and made the two-point conversion to make it 36-30.
Then it was Brindlee Mountain’s turn.
“We had the ball and it got down to four minutes (left), but they stopped us on a fourth-down try,” Garner said. “That sealed the deal.”
Still, Garner was encouraged by his team’s showing.
“It was a good ballgame,” he said. “Neither team punted. I imagine if you were sitting in the stands, it was a great game to watch.
“But our kids, they fought and showed determination like we haven’t any this year. It was great effort.
“Now we just have to find a way to repeat that process.”
Brindlee Mountain plays its third straight – and final – home game Friday against Plainview. Then the Lions will play at Marshall County rival DAR to end the season.