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LITTLE ELM — Before the ball was ever kicked off at Lobo Stadium for Friday night’s District 5-6A matchup between Braswell and Little Elm, the Bengals knew they had their work cut out for them against a Lobos offense that featured all-world quarterback John Mateer.

Luckily enough, the Braswell defense took care of Mateer just enough to defeat Little Elm 63-42, handing them their first loss of the season.

They also ensured that Jaylon Burton was the most dangerous player on the field.

Burton was dominant for the Bengals in the backfield, bullying his way to 363 yards and accounted for six of Braswell’s nine touchdowns.

“I have to start off with the offensive line,” Burton said. “They blocked their butt off every play and did not take off any reps. That is what really counts, and we needed it.”

Braswell and Burton found the end zone for the first time in the opening quarter on the Bengals’ second drive. That drive included a 43-yard pass from quarterback Keegan Byrd to Jaden Acker before Burton punched it in from the 5-yard line for a 7-6 lead.

Mateer did get the Lobos on the board on their second drive of the game, pushing a 12-play, 16-yard effort down the field that resulted in him taking it in himself for the 10-yard touchdown run.

The Bengals defense knew they had to contain Mateer to the best of their abilities, and they held him to 240 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. He also racked up 199 yards and two more scores on the ground.

“I told you that nobody’s done it yet, and I’m not sure how good of a job we did,” Braswell coach Cody Moore said of how his team fared defending Mateer. “We made some stops when we needed to, and he is an unbelievable player. He is probably better than I thought coming into the game, honestly.”

From there, the Bengals hit the gas offensively.

Braswell kept sticking with Burton on the next two possessions, each ending with a touchdown run by him. The first came from a 3-yard run to make it 14-6 before he ripped off a 66-yard run to open the second quarter and push the lead to 21-6.

Little Elm would not stay down long. The Lobos nabbed back-to-back touchdowns with the first score coming on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mateer to Josh Joseph. The tying score came on a 14-yard run by Semja Ellis Jordan to make it 21-21

The momentum-changing drive of the game came with less than a minute to go in the first half. Braswell engineered an 11-play, 63-yard drive that was marked by a fourth-down conversion deep in Little Elm territory.

Byrd hit Acker for 36 yards to give the Bengals a 28-21 lead going into the break.

By the time Braswell and Little Elm started the third quarter, it was a full-on scoring extravaganza. Both teams scored on every one of their possessions in the third, with the Bengals getting on the board first in the second with a 9-yard keeper by Byrd to make it 35-21. Byrd finished 132 passing yards and a passing score to go along with his two scores on the ground.

Mateer and the Lobos’ offense fired right back with an 18-yard score with a pass to Vashawn Thomas, but it was short-lived as Burton continued to bludgeon the Little Elm defense, this time with a 35-yard run for the score to make it 42-28.

Burton picked up two more touchdown runs in the quarter to cap off his impressive performance to make it 56-42. The final nail in the coffin for Little Elm came on its opening drive of the fourth quarter when Mateer fumbled the ball in Lobo territory, setting Braswell up for a final score at 63-42.

“It’s a good win against the good team,” Moore said. “My message to the team earlier in the was that we’ve played a good schedule and we’re battle-tested. We were ready to play this game, and we were ready to play our best football game of the year up until this point.”

And as for the star of the night in Burton, tonight’s performance was a long time coming, according to Moore.

“I can’t say enough about Jalen,” Moore said. “What he did, and the effort and the toughness that he has shown for the last six games, but especially tonight — he has transformed himself into a leader. He’s a vocal leader. He’s running with a great amount of toughness. I’ve never had anybody like him, to be perfectly honest with you.”

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