The Marble Falls High School football team before kickoff against Liberty Hill on Friday, Oct. 15. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Marble Falls High School football team had one last try to tie Liberty Hill and send the District 14-5A Division II game into overtime Friday, Oct. 15, at Panther Stadium. Senior quarterback Jake Becker threw to the right side of the end zone, but the ball was batted down and the Panthers won 21-14.
Mustangs head coach Brian Herman said the preparation for that final play happened long before his team took the field.
“We had a little bit of a heart to heart before we came over here,” Herman said. “We talked about belief, a little bit of the Henry Ford quote ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.’ I told them, ‘You got to believe when you take that field.’ I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.”
The Panthers (6-2 overall, 4-0 district) missed a 36-yard field goal that hit the left upright with 2 minutes 48 seconds remaining in the contest, giving Marble Falls a chance.
The Mustangs (4-3, 1-2) took over on their 20 and reached the Liberty Hill 29 in 12 plays but couldn’t complete the final pass of the game.
The Panthers used meticulous drives and explosive plays to build a 14-point lead in the first half.
Marble Falls took the opening kickoff and got two first downs before the Panthers forced a punt.
On the ensuing drive, the Panthers marched 83 yards to paydirt when sophomore quarterback Joe Pitchford plunged into the end zone from one yard for a 7-0 lead.
After a Marble Falls punt, the Panthers needed only two plays to score. Sophomore running back Noah Long ran 74 yards for the touchdown on the last play of the opening quarter for a 14-0 advantage.
The Panthers recovered a pooch kick on the next play and looked like they were going to score but fumbled inside the Marble Falls 1-yard line. The Mustangs recovered but had to punt.
The Marble Falls defense forced another punt, and that led to the Mustangs’ lone touchdown of the half. It happened when Becker found senior halfback Roberto Adame on a 38-yard scoring pass to trim the deficit to 14-7 with 1:20 left in the first half.
Liberty Hill needed only 51 seconds to get the touchdown back. Senior quarterback Reese Vickers hit Long on an 8-yard scoring pass for a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Panthers fumbled the ball on the opening drive of the third quarter that was recovered by Marble Falls senior lineman Jose Tonche.
The Mustangs drove 39 yards in 10 plays but failed to score when the pass was batted down on fourth down.
The Marble Falls defense stiffened again and forced another punt.
This time, the Mustangs completed a 10-play, 47-yard drive that ended when Adame bulldozed his way into the end zone to trim the deficit to 21-14.
The two teams exchanged punts before Liberty Hill missed the field goal.
The Panthers had 356 yards of total offense but only 95 in the second half, all unofficial. Long led all rushers with 133 yards on 11 carries. Vickers completed 2 of 3 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Herman noted the Mustangs made small adjustments on defense, but the biggest was getting players to ball carriers and making tackles.
“They flew to the football,” he said. “I think we adjusted to their speed. There were a couple of missed tackles in the first half that cost us.”
Marble Falls had 288 yards of total offense, all unofficial. Becker had 17 carries for 71 yards and completed 2 of 4 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Senior fullback Isaias Fernandez had 17 rushes for 71 yards, while Adame had 14 carries for 48 yards and a score and a 38-yard touchdown reception, and junior tailback Caleb Vidal had 11 rushes for 54 yards and a reception for 11 yards.
“We fought and battled until the final whistle blew,” Herman said. “We came up short against a really, really good football team. It’s the best team we played all year. I think I saw some growth in this team as a team; belief and coming together and playing for each other. They were truly playing for the guys on the sideline.”
Marble Falls now prepares for Austin Navarro on homecoming. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive.
“We have to win the rest of our games,” Herman said. “If we play with this kind of effort, I think we will.”