STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Burnet High School football team only needed 19 seconds to secure its fourth consecutive victory over Marble Falls on Sept. 8.
The Bulldogs (2-0, 0-0 in District 13-4A Division II) defeated the Mustangs (1-1, 0-0 in District 26-5A) 27-14.
With the contest tied at 7-7 at the half, Burnet seized control in two series.
The Bulldogs covered 75 yards on their opening drive of the second half to take a 14-7 lead when senior running back Ian Carter ran in from nine yards out.
Nineteen seconds later, freshman defensive back Jackson Denton caught a fumble in midair and ran 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead.
“You can’t turn the ball over, no matter your opponent,” Marble Falls interim head coach Mike Birdwell said. “You can’t get down that much to a good football team like Burnet.”
Marble Falls turned the ball over three times, leading to two Burnet touchdowns. But the final Mustang turnover was especially difficult since they trailed by two touchdowns.
The Mustangs completed a 24-yard pass where the receiver fumbled that would have given them a first down in Burnet territory. Instead, it was a missed opportunity.
“That was tough,” Birdwell said. “That was huge, it was really hard.”
“The turnovers were huge,” Burnet head coach Kurt Jones said. “We knew they would be. We knew we had to get the ball, either punch it out or strip it out. And we felt like we missed some opportunities in the first half.”
The Mustangs couldn’t have looked more confident than they did in their opening drive for the first touchdown of the contest when they went 66 yards. Even a dropped fumble that bounced right back into hands of sophomore running back Cooper Wilson didn’t hurt as he turned a big loss into a 13-yard gain. Junior running back Dillon Mayfield scored on the one-yard run and a 7-0 lead.
“I was proud of our offense for moving the ball methodically and staying ahead of the chains,” Birdwell said. “But in the second quarter, we started behind the chains. In second and long, it’s hard to stay on track.”
That score stood until the Bulldogs forced a fumble in the second quarter.
Burnet needed only five plays to reach paydirt when Carter caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Chandler Galban for a 10-yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie. The drive covered 25 yards.
“That’s growing up,” Jones said. “You battle and work through some of those things that aren’t pretty.”
In the fourth quarter, Burnet sophomore running back Blaine Burkhalter ran 60 yards for another touchdown and a 27-7 lead.
The Mustangs ended the scoring when junior receiver Brock Linder caught a four-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Andrew Stripling.
Carter ended the game with 179 yards on 19 carries, more than half of the 283 rushing yards for the Bulldogs.
“We ran the ball really well against a big front seven,” Jones said. “I’m really proud of our offensive line and how they’re coming together. And really proud of Ian and how he ran the ball. I know from experience as a defensive coordinator that there’s no better offense than running the ball and running clock.”
Stripling completed 14 of 25 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown, while senior receiver Keegan Deering caught six passes for 94 yards.
“Our Mustangs played hard at times, but we didn’t play consistently enough to get the win,” Birdwell said. “Our kids fought. I’m proud of the guys, they believed they were still in it, they battled till the end.”
Jones complimented kicker Jose Salazar, a student coaches found in a physical education class, on making three of four extra points.
“He’s been working with us for a little over two weeks,” Jones said. “He’d never kicked a ball before.”
Jones said the game’s start was tough but credited his players for staying the course.
“Super proud of our kids,” he said. “It starts with belief; you have to believe you can do it. Our youngsters had wide eyes in the first quarter. But they fought hard and really proud of our kids for fighting hard the rest of the game.”
The Mustangs welcome Austin Crockett at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, to Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. Catch the pregame show at 7 p.m. and the contest both on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or KBEYFM.com.
Burnet plays in its first home game of the season when it welcomes Fredericksburg at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, to Bulldog Field, 1000 The Green Mile in Burnet. The pregame show and contest are on KMPN 95.9 FM beginning at 7 p.m. You can also listen to the game on KBEYFM.com.