The Marble Falls High School football team suffered its first loss of the season, a 23-22 setback to Nike Dallas on Sept. 17 at Mustang Stadium.
The Victors (3-0, homeschool) caught two interceptions during the game and recovered a fumble late in the contest to secure the win. Meanwhile, the Mustangs (3-1, District 14-5A Division II) suffered penalties that put the offense behind the chains and forced punts in the first half and took what looked to be the game-winning touchdown by senior safety Ryan Minor off the board with five minutes left in the contest because of a block in the back.
“It’s disappointing, it was humbling,” Mustangs head coach Brian Herman said. “They had lots of athletes. We had them on the ropes. In the end, we had some self-inflicted mistakes.”
Marble Falls’ final offensive fumble in the contest was especially painful. Trailing by a point with 5:07 left, the Mustangs took the field on their 41. Senior quarterback Jake Becker ran for 35 yards and got some extra yards because of a defensive penalty. Marble Falls reached Nike Dallas’ 23-yard line when the Victors’ defensive front seven crashed through the line and picked up the fumble on the turf with 2:49 left in the game.
The Mustangs used their timeouts, but the Victors were able to run out the clock for the win.
“I thought we were going to drive down and score the touchdown,” Herman said of the final drive.
Marble Falls trailed for the first time all season on the opening kickoff. Nike Dallas returner Preston Abel ran 99 yards to paydirt. The snap on the extra point was bobbled, and the Victors led 6-0.
The Mustangs responded immediately, going 60 yards in seven plays. The drive ended when senior halfback Roberto Adame scored on a 7-yard dive. With the extra point, the Mustangs led 7-6 with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
The Victors answered with a 36-yard field goal on the next drive to regain the lead at 9-7 to end the opening quarter.
After the teams exchanged punts, Nike Dallas added to its lead when Abel scored on a 1-yard run for a 16-7 advantage at the half.
Marble Falls got the opening possession of the second half and promptly settled into an offensive rhythm. The Mustangs needed only six plays to cover the 66 yards highlighted by Adame’s 15-yard run to the end zone to cut into the lead, 16-14.
Nike Dallas fumbled on its first offensive play of the second half, which was recovered by Marble Falls junior A.J. Scovil. But the Victors got it back immediately by intercepting a Mustangs pass.
From there, the Victors went on a 15-play drive that took 6:25 off the clock. The drive ended when quarterback Josh Long found running back Cam Mitton for a 10-yard touchdown and a 23-14 lead with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The Mustangs responded on their next offensive possession, covering 75 yards in 4:09. They had to overcome a first-and-25 because of a chop block and did so thanks to a 14-yard run by senior fullback Rio Suarez, who added an 8-yard run on third-and-eight. After junior tailback Caleb Vidal ran for 18 yards, Suarez finished the drive on a 3-yard plunge into the end zone. Becker called his own number on the two-point run, and the Mustangs trailed 23-22 with 10:32 left in the contest.
The Victors went on a 10-play drive that ended when Minor caught the interception.
The Mustangs racked up 317 yards of total offense to the Victors’ 292, all unofficial. Becker led with 11 carries for 106 yards.
Mitton led Nike Dallas with 20 carries for 95 yards and a 10-yard touchdown catch.
Herman noted “back breakers” during the contest, including being called for two chop blocks, turnovers, and a block in the back that took a touchdown off the board.
And despite all that, the game was decided by a single point.
“It says we played hard, but we didn’t play clean enough,” Herman said. “If we had executed better, the score would have been better. When you make too many mistakes in a game, you’re not supposed to win. They’re very talented, and it’s a challenge to stop that number of athletes that many times. They had guys running all over the place, and we thought our style of play was wearing them down. It was; we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Marble Falls opens district play against Austin Travis at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Toney Burger Activity Center and Stadium, 3200 Jones Road in Austin.