STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BASTROP — You could almost tell what kind of afternoon was in store for the Marble Falls Mustangs on the first two series of their season-opening football game against Bastrop Cedar Creek on Sept. 2.
It was going to be a great one for those in purple and white.
The Mustangs (District 26-5A) won the game 28-14.
On the first drive, Marble Falls sophomore defensive lineman Sam May fell on an Eagles fumble near midfield.
The Mustangs offense took over, and on a fourth-and-one situation, junior quarterback Andrew Stripling found sophomore receiver Brenden Sapp for a 40-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“Our staff, our kids, our program, we have to savor wins,” said Marble Falls interim head coach Mike Birdwell. “Our goal was to be 1-0. For today, we reached that goal.”
The Mustangs added two more scores before the half.
Stripling found senior receiver Keegan Deering for touchdown passes of 69 yards and 36 yards and a 21-0 halftime advantage.
When the third quarter began, Marble Falls continued its dominance.
The Mustangs took the opening drive 59 yards for a score as junior running back Dillon Mayberry powered his way to paydirt from one yard out. He ended the day with 18 carries for 126 yards.
“It felt great,” Mayberry said of the win. “All the work we did, it paid off. It’s golden — all the credit to the offensive line. No complaints whatsoever.”
Stripling’s three touchdown passes in the first half set a new personal record. That’s the first time he’s thrown that many on the varsity level. He finished by completing 16 of 27 passes for 235 yards and hit five different receivers. Deering led with two receptions for 103 yards and two scores.
“It just felt good being out on the field,” Stripling said. “We executed on offense. We’re trying to get everyone involved and improve.”
Meanwhile, the Mustang defense was just as overpowering. It recovered a total of three fumbles and grabbed an interception in the contest, limiting the Eagles (19-5A) to 112 yards of total offense in the first half. Cedar Creek’s offensive possessions in the first two quarters ended in a lost fumble, a punt, a missed field goal, a fumble, an interception by Mustang senior defensive back Nick Veloz, another punt, and a turnover on downs.
“One of our goals to winning is playing relentless defense,” Birdwell said. “The defense came out and had a bend-don’t-break mentality. We got the turnover, and we scored.”
In all, Birdwell and his coaching staff saw plenty of good things.
“I was very, very happy for our kids and their effort,” he said. “They hustled on the field and played their tails off. At the end of the day, they were great teammates.”
Marble Falls (1-0) welcomes Burnet (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, to Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. Burnet defeated Austin Reagan 30-0 on Aug. 31. Listen to the Burnet County rivalry game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com beginning with a pregame show at 6:30 p.m.