STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team dropped its second District 26-5A contest, this one a 50-30 loss on homecoming Sept. 29 to Castroville Medina Valley.
The loss drops the Mustangs to 0-2 in district play and 2-3 on the season, while the Panthers remain unbeaten in district play at 2-0, 4-1 on the year.
After Marble Falls took a 16-14 halftime lead, Mustangs senior defensive back Jesse Garrison picked up a fumble and ran 85 yards for a touchdown for a 23-14 advantage to start the third quarter.
The Panthers, however, went 97 yards on a drive that ended when senior tailback Caytan Chang ran to paydirt from 32 yards to trim the deficit to 23-21. The drive consisted of nine plays with all but one on the ground.
“Medina Valley came back after the fumble and kept their heads up and grinded the ball,” Mustangs interim head coach Mike Birdwell said. “They got back to basics.”
After a Marble Falls punt, Medina Valley senior fullback Devin Johnson ran 60 yards for a touchdown and a 29-23 lead with two minutes left in the third stanza.
The Mustangs bobbled a punt on their own 15-yard line that led to the Panthers’ next score. Junior quarterback Alek Child hit junior receiver Bryan Tanglao for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The two-point run failed, but Medina Valley extended its lead to 35-23 late in the third quarter.
Marble Falls answered when senior receiver Bryce Murphy recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to trim the deficit to 35-30 midway through the fourth quarter.
Chang responded with a 60-yard scamper to the end zone. Gipson added a two-point run for a 43-30 advantage.
The Mustangs reached the Panthers’ 22-yard line but turned the ball over on downs when a pass was dropped on fourth-and 4 that would have extended the drive. It was the third dropped pass of the drive.
“We had opportunities, but we need someone to step up and make a big play,” Birdwell said. ”We have to have all 11 do the best they can do.”
Medina Valley senior tailback Matthew Teague added a 9-yard touchdown run for the game’s final score.
The Mustangs couldn’t have started the contest better. They scored on their opening drive of the game when junior quarterback Andrew Stripling found senior receiver Keegan Deering for a 30-yard touchdown. Senior kicker Fortino Tinajera added the extra point for a 7-0 lead. The drive covered 83 yards in six plays.
Medina Valley answered on the next drive thanks to a 46-yard run by Chang to tie the game at 7-7.
The Panthers caught an interception to give the ball back to their offense. Sophomore fullback James Gipson ended the 85-yard drive by scoring a touchdown from 2 yards out for a 14-7 lead. The drive covered 11 plays.
Tinajera trimmed the Mustangs deficit to 14-10 when he nailed a 27-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
The Mustangs defense recovered a fumble and the offense took the lead when Stripling hit Deering on a 2-yard touchdown pass. The two-point run was no good, but Marble Falls led 16-14 at the half. The drive covered 64 yards in 11 plays.
Birdwell noted coaches have had to move some players, who’ve never played on the offensive line, to those positions because of injuries. Those athletes helped the Mustangs gain 196 yards on the ground, all unofficial. Stripling had 74 yards rushing, all unofficial, most coming on third and fourth downs.
“We’re proud of the offensive line for battling through the injury bug,” the coach said. “Andrew had a lot of composure. He made plays on third and fourth down with his legs.”
The Panthers finished the game with 477 yards of total offense, 275 on the ground, all unofficial. Six run plays went for 20 yards or longer.
“They had a tough offense,” Birdwell said. “They’re very explosive. They had running plays of over 20 yards.”
The Mustangs will have a bye Oct. 6 then travel to play Boerne Champion at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at Boerne ISD Stadium, 1 Greyhound Lane in Boerne. Catch the contest beginning with the pregame show at 7 p.m. on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com.