BLANCHARD — Blanchard junior George Madden was waiting for his opportunity to make a big play.
The defensive lineman delivered, sacking Jones quarterback Clayton Sims and forcing a fumble with just more than nine minutes remaining Thursday night to set up the Lions' go-ahead touchdown en route to a 21-7 victory.
“I knew it would come,” said Madden, who accounted for three of the Lions' six sacks. “I just had to be patient and keep doing what I was doing.”
In a tight game for the first time all season, the Lions' defense delivered in a big way, limiting Jones to just 246 total yards and nearly pitching a shutout.
No. 1 Blanchard remains undefeated on the season and on track to win District 3A-1 with games remaining against Mount St. Mary and Tuttle.
It just took some late heroics that started with Madden's hit.
Blanchard quarterback Blake Owen found tight end Jalan Daniels in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown two plays later.
Then star running back Braden Stringer sealed the game with a 13-yard TD run with 4:29 remaining, ending a frustrating night on offense.
“Tonight really exposed that teams can load the box and start trying to stop the run, and they did a great job of that,” Stringer said. “But our offensive passing did kind of come together at the end and that's something we're going to have to work on for sure.”
Until that TD pass, Owen was just 1 for 5 for 6 yards. He finished 3 of 7 for 97 yards.
But Stringer remained the focus of the Longhorns' defense.
Statistically, it seemed like a slow night for him with just 150 yards and two TDs on 30 carries. But it was an impressive performance facing the stingy Jones defense.
“We felt like Braden was going to break a tackle and we were 1-on-1 a lot,” Blanchard coach Jeff Craig said. “If he could break a tackle, he could go the distance on it but their safeties were sitting back pretty deep trying to prevent him from making a big long run on us and they did that all night long.
“We've got to respond in the pass game a little bit when that happens. Fortunately for us, down the stretch when we had to have the pass, we got it.”
For Jones (3-4, 2-1) it was a disappointing finish after winning three straight games.
The Longhorns' offense sputtered, with the lone TD coming on a 6-yard run by Colton Story to open the third.
Sims did throw for 229 yards and proved elusive at times. There was just too many times the Lions caught him.
Stringer delivered the final sack for the Lions, and afterward said the win was a big one for Blanchard in its title defense.
“I honestly think this is something we needed,” he said. “I see a lot of championship teams — like Alabama last year going to Texas A&M — that you need a game like this that you have to face adversity and you've got to come through. You've got a fourth-quarter war and you've got to win it.”