STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team ended the 2017 season with a 35-14 district loss to Dripping Springs on Nov. 10.
The Tigers (10-0 overall, 7-0 District 26-5A) had already won the district title before arriving in Marble Falls (3-7, 1-6) and scored all the points they needed in the first quarter.
The Mustangs fumbled the opening kickoff, which gave the Tigers a first down on the Marble Falls 18. Dripping Springs junior running back Jacob Cox scored on a 5-yard run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead early in the opening quarter.
After a Marble Falls punt to its 46, Dripping Springs senior quarterback Trevor Greenman scored a 3-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 Tigers lead midway through the first quarter.
“When you (fumble) versus one of the top teams in the state, it’s extremely difficult,” Mustangs interim head coach Mike Birdwell said. “We don’t get a first down, we don’t convert, we give our defense two very short fields. (The Tigers) execute their offense to perfection and score.”
The Tigers added to their lead with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior offensive lineman Dylan Smith to make it 21-0 late in the first quarter. On that drive, Dripping Springs covered 92 yards in five plays.
Just when it looked like the Tigers were going to add to their point total, Marble Falls junior linebacker Reece VanHoose got an interception in the second half and ran it back about 95 yards to paydirt. But a Mustang was called for a block in the back, which took the points off the board. Birdwell said the block in the back was on a player who was 30 or 40 yards behind the play, which didn’t affect the outcome. And while coaches ask the Mustangs to play physical and tough, there is work to do in teaching them to play smarter, Birdwell said.
Still, the Mustang offense turned the interception into points.
Junior quarterback Andrew Stripling found senior receiver Nick Veloz for a 4-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 21-7 with three minutes left in the half.
Dripping Springs, however, got the points back when Greenman found senior receiver John Hoyle for a 2-yard touchdown pass for a 28-7 lead at the half.
Dripping Springs picked up in the third quarter where it left off in the first half thanks to senior receiver Alec Bockelman’s 5-yard touchdown run for a 35-7 lead to start the second half.
The Mustangs rounded out the scoring midway through the fourth quarter when Stripling found sophomore receiver Brenden Sapp for a 20-yard touchdown.
Birdwell commended the Tigers defense for making it difficult for the Mustangs to find much offensive rhythm.
“They run to the ball extremely well, they cover everything at times, and they neutralize it,” he said. “We couldn’t get out of our own way.”
Stripling passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 49 yards, while junior running back Dillon Mayberry ran for 72 yards. In all, the Mustangs had 266 yards of offense.
The Tigers countered with 298 yards of offense with 205 on the ground.
Despite the outcome of the season’s final game, Birdwell noted this team won its first district game since 2015 in a 35-21 victory over Seguin on Oct. 27 and came close to beating Lockhart (28-24) on Nov. 3. In a 50-30 loss to Castroville Medina Valley on Sept. 29, the Mustangs cut a deficit to five points midway through the fourth quarter.
Birdwell said he was pleased with the way the players competed every week.
“We’re fired up about the program and the future,” he said.