Leading at halftime, Leander was on track for its first win of the season, but a poor second-half offensive showing and a dominant Pflugerville rushing game tallied 20 unanswered points out of the locker room to diminish the Lions' hopes of a non-district win.
Leander dropped a 27-20 decision to Pflugerville on Thursday night at The Pfield, falling to 0-2 on the season. The Lions were held to just seven points and 81 yards in the second half of the defeat, their second loss to Pflugerville in two seasons.
Senior running back Xavier Dotson ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries, while quarterback Garrett Landry went 10-for-16 with 129 yards through the air.
Leander's defense allowed 286 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns in the loss.
"We have added a lot of stuff both offensively and defensively and it wasn't gonna be perfect overnight," Leander head coach Kris Price said, "We just have to clean up the stuff we're making mistakes on and keep fighting."
After being shut down with a quick three-and-out on their first offensive possession, Leander put together a masterful second drive that elapsed over six minutes and amassed 87 yards through the end of the first and start of the second quarter.
Dotson cashed in on the impressive march by taking a direct snap and laying out to find the pylon on the right side of the Pflugerville endzone, scampering six yards for his first score of the night. On the drive, Landry went 4-for-4 with 59 yards through the air.
Pflugerville would answer quickly, but not without help from a key miscue from the Leander defense. On 4th and 9 from the Leander 29-yard-line, the Lions' defensive line was charged with a critical roughing-the-passer call. On the very next play from scrimmage, Jaylon Reeves went untouched on a sprint through the middle for a Panthers touchdown.
After a superb kickoff return by senior defensive back Xavier Terry, Dotson would take a handoff through the middle of the line and free for a 40-yard touchdown. The senior running back totaled 90 yards and two scores in the first half.
In the second half, the Panthers took over on both sides of the ball. Devon Martin gave Pflugerville the lead when he took a Reeves screen pass 29 yards to the house in the early parts of the third quarter.
Reeves would add two rushing touchdowns, one from seven yards and another from 28, in the fourth quarter. Leander's offense would answer with a late touchdown of their own, Dotson's third, on a one-yard plunge after a 33-yard hookup from Landry and tight end Will Loofe.
"There were some things we did that hurt us, but the way our guys fought back after those mistakes was very impressive," Price said. "The fact that we were playing until the bitter end to try and get a win is the most important thing."
The Lions begin their District 13-6A schedule next Friday when they face Stony Point at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
"We are in a better position right now than when we started the year, and that has to be the mindset now," Price said. "Even with that, there is still a lot of room for growth and if they're willing to keep working, we are going to get better."
Follow @HCNSports on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on all local and regional sports.