ABILENE, TX – Lee had hoped to take the momentum from a non-district sweep into Friday night’s game with district rival Abilene Cooper. It was the Cougars that tacked the first 17 points on the scoreboard to have the Rebels trailing at the half. The Rebs scored twice in the second half, but that wasn’t enough as the Coogs claimed a 24-14 decision in Shotwell Stadium. The loss drops Lee to the middle of District 3-5A, tied with Midland High and Odessa High owning 0-1 records.
The game opened with Cooper trying to take control early. Cougars quarterback Clayton Nicholas completed 6-of-7 passes for 55 yards, before capping a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal. Cooper ate up almost nine minutes of the first quarter to themselves. In the second quarter, the Cougars drove 12 plays on 80 yards and Nicholas connected with Lorenzo Joe for a 11-yard touchdown pass.
Nicholas did more damage when he punted a 72-yarder (30 mph wind to his back) to pin Lee deep in their own end of the field at the 8-yard line. Cooper held the Rebels to a three-and-out and took over at the Lee 36 after a 27-yard punt into the wind. Cooper’s Wes Polk made a 34-yard field goal to up the Cougar lead to 17-0. Lee had a chance to try to get on the board just before halftime. Nicholas completed a pass near midfield, but the receiver was stripped of the ball and the Rebels recovered. Two incomplete passes, a 10-yard run by Travis Williams, and another incomplete pass as the clock expired sent the teams to the locker room with a 17-0 Cooper lead.
Lee opened the third quarter with a little more fire. Williams started off with a 28-yard run to the Cooper 41. After short runs by Nunez and Jason McAfee, the Rebels were faced with a fourth-down-and-two. A bad spot killed Lee’s opening drive of the quarter at the Cooper 34. The Cougars came right back and looked to be on course for yet another touchdown. Inside the red zone, Luke Stice knocked the ball loose at the 4-yard line and Darian Long recovered to avoid another Cooper score.
After working the ball back to midfield, this time the Rebels were not going to be denied. Talor Nunez launched a 41-yard touchdown bomb to Skyler Estrella to get Lee on the board. It came at the end of a nine-play, 97-yard drive, making it a 17-7 game with eight seconds left in the period. Two possessions later, Rebels commited a major mistake when a Nunez pass from the 38-yard line was intercepted at midfield and returned for a touchdown by Cougars’ Josh Bowman.
Nunez threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kendall White with 8 seconds left in the game, and the Rebels recovered an onside kick, but couldn’t cash in. Nunez finished 10-for-30 for 151 yards, and added 41 more yards rushing. Williams broke the 100-yard barrier with 113 on 15 carries. Estrella had five catches for 84 yards.
CHS — Lorenzo Joe 11 pass from Nicholas (Polk kick), 9:16
CHS — Polk 34 FG, 3:31
LEE — Skyler Estrella 41 pass from Talor Nunez (Miles Vincent kick), 0:07
CHS — Josh Bowman 53 intercepton return (Polk kick), 2:01
LEE — Kendall White 7 pass from Nunez (Vincent kick), 0:08