Marble Falls senior wide receiver Chris Talamentez lines up wide against Killeen Chaparral cornerback Rayford Jones early in the first quarter. The similarity of the two teams’ offensive styles forced both coaches to break tendencies in hopes of surprising the opposing team through the air. The Mustangs won 22-15. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
The Marble Falls Mustangs (1-1) walked away with a 22-15 last-minute win against the Killeen Chaparral Bobcats (0-2) to put a cherry on top of their homecoming celebration on Friday, Sept. 9, at Mustang Stadium.
“(The Bobcats) played their best game all year,” Mustangs head coach Brian Herman said. “They thought they could roll over Hill Country kids and gave us their best effort.”
Similar to boxers feeling each other out early in a fight, the Bobcats and Mustangs spent most of the first quarter battling back and forth with both defenses showcasing their ability and preparation. Each offense was scoreless through the quarter.
A haywire punt on the first play of the second quarter gave the Mustangs the energy they needed to finally break a big play on offense. Senior tailback Caleb Vidal ran for 37 yards before senior fullback Jasael Ruiz scored on a 4-yard touchdown.
Following the Ruiz score, the Bobcats appeared ready to answer before junior linebacker Isaac Larranaga laid out a huge hit, forcing a Bobcats fumble and ensuing recovery by the Mustangs.
Marble Falls sophomore fullback Kole Becker also made an impact on the game, demonstrating a will to gain extra yards on virtually every run throughout the contest despite his lack of varsity experience.
Midway through the third quarter, Bobcats fullback Javier Smith was able to gain separation and cut through the Mustangs defense with a 32-yard carry to the 1-yard line. The strong fullback punched the ball in on the next play.
The Bobcats missed the point-after attempt, and the Mustangs held on to a slim 7-6 lead.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Mustangs on the Smith touchdown allowed the Bobcats to kick off from the 45-yard line. Kicker Carlos DeJesus was able to get a backspin on the kick, leading to a Bobcats recovery.
With the momentum from the kickoff recovery, Bobcats quarterback Joel Secrist launched a pass to wide receiver LaDamon Williams, and Chaparral took a 12-7 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Refusing to give up, Mustangs junior Jaime Castillo dominated the following possession on the ground, galloping for multiple big gains during the possession.
“Jaime is a tough kid,” Herman said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win. We believe in him just like we believe in all of our kids, but we’re excited about Jaime.”
Castillo’s energy paid off as the Mustangs answered the Bobcats score with a touchdown of their own, coming from Vidal on a 3-yard rushing play. The Mustangs went up 15-12 after a successful two-point conversion late in the third quarter.
After a defensive stop by Marble Falls early in the fourth, the Mustangs coughed up the ball to a mob of Chaparral defenders, leading to a Bobcats fumble recovery.
Mustangs senior defensive end Kevin Aguilar took over defensively late in the game with several big plays, including a 19-yard tackle for a loss on a failed bootleg by Secrist.
Aguilar’s defensive effort forced the Bobcats to attempt a 34-yard field goal. DeJesus struck the ball right down the middle to tie the game at 15-15 with less than five minutes left.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mustangs junior return man Cam Graham found space and moved the ball to the Bobcats’ 36-yard line, giving the Mustangs excellent field position to start the possession.
On a dramatic fourth-down conversion, Vidal pushed the ball for an additional 14 yards on a toss play to put the Mustangs inside the 20-yard line with two minutes left in the contest.
A 12-yard scamper by Ruiz gave the Mustangs a 22-15 lead with 48 seconds left in the contest, effectively ending the ballgame.
“It was a win,” Herman said. “That’s all I care about.”
The Mustangs finish off their three-game homestand against the Kerrville Tivy Antlers on Sept. 16 with kickoff at 7:30 p.m.