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Braswell quarterback Greyson Thompson (11) pass the ball to Braswell wide receiver Cam Smith (1), while the Red Oak defense rushes him at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex Aug. 29 in Denton.

After grabbing their first District 7-5A Division II win over Frisco Memorial last week, the Braswell Bengals return home to square off against Lucas Lovejoy on Friday night at Denton High’s Bronco Field.

Lovejoy will head into this week fresh off a bye after defeating Frisco Memorial 42-12 in the opening week of league play. The Leopards are 2-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Colleyville Heritage.

“This week is huge for us,” Braswell receiver Cam Smith said. “Winning this game could set us up in a great position moving forward.”

While the Bengals’ potent offense ranks No. 4 among Class 5A schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area averaging 531 yards per game, they will have a tough test awaiting them.

The Leopards feature a tenacious defense that has forced four turnovers through three contests. Although Lovejoy allows nearly 390 yards per game, the Leopards hold opponents to a mere 18 points a game due to a stout red zone defense.

“I think they’re really good on defense,” Braswell coach Cody Moore said. “You’re going to have to earn everything you get. When you do get down near the goal line, they increase their level of play and put themselves in really good situations. They’re going to make it really tough on us.”

Braswell has struggled with its red zone efficiency in the past couple games. In the Bengals’ lone district loss to Frisco, Braswell managed just 12 points during five different trips inside the 20-yard line.

If the Bengals want a shot to knock off a Lovejoy team that has reached the area round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, senior quarterback Greyson Thompson said Braswell must cash in for six points instead of settling for field goals.

“We haven’t been able to score in the red zone like we want to the past few weeks,” Thompson said. “Our red zone efficiency has been really low, so we just have to make sure and finish when we get there.”

While Braswell’s offense has gotten off to a fast start, the Bengals’ defense has struggled at times. Braswell is averaging 40.5 points per game, but giving up 32.2 points per contest.

Moore and defensive coordinator Jake Spoerl put Smith and junior receiver J’Kalon Carter at cornerback last week in an effort to boost a secondary that has allowed 316 passing yards a game in the last three weeks.

As a result, the Bengals reeled in their first two interceptions of the season and have forced six turnovers on the year.

“All we’ve talked about all week is turnovers and penalties,” Moore said. “We’ve got to do a great job of taking the ball away because they don’t make a lot of mistakes. If we lose both of those battles, it’s going to make it really tough on us to win.”

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