A gang of Marble Falls defenders take down Kerrville Tivy quarterback Kale Lackey on a broken-down option play. The Mustangs lost 28-21. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
In a tight, non-district matchup, the Marble Falls Mustangs (2-2) suffered a heartbreaking 28-21 loss to the Kerrville Tivy Antlers (2-2) in the final minutes Friday, Sept. 16, at Mustang Stadium.
“We’re just a young team,” Marble Falls head coach Brian Herman said. “They’re learning how to win. We’re so close. We’re better than we’re showing.”
The Antlers opened the game with a balanced offensive attack, utilizing senior quarterback Kale Lackey’s throwing prowess and running ability simultaneously on several rollout pass plays and option runs.
Keeping the Mustangs on their toes, Tivy’s efforts paid off with a touchdown on a slant route by senior wide receiver Lake Audrain, giving the Antlers an early 7-0 lead.
Relying on a mix of physical inside runs by junior halfback Jaime Castillo and quick runs to the outside by senior tailback Caleb Vidal, the Mustangs were able to move the ball effectively while also chewing up the bulk of the game clock in the first quarter.
While a false start on fourt- and-one on the 15-yard line appeared to spell disaster for the Mustangs, junior quarterback Kody Smith was able to catch the Tivy defense by surprise with his first passing touchdown of the year after rolling out to his right and finding senior Brian Beltran on a 21-yard bomb to the back corner of the endzone.
After forcing a fourth down on the 13-yard line, the Mustangs’ defense were tricked by a Tivy gadget play, leading to a touchdown pass thrown by senior running back Landon Barnett to junior wide receiver Stormy Rhodes, who was wide open in the endzone once the Mustangs bought in on the fake run pass play.
Similar to the Mustangs’ first scoring drive, the quick-twitch running of Vidal continued to help Herman’s squad grab huge chunks of yardage, with the senior running back putting the Mustangs in prime position after a tough run to the 1-yard line.
Another false start, the fourth of the first half, would push the ball back to the 6-yard line.
Refusing to allow the false start to affect the game, Marble Falls sophomore Kole Becker answered on the ensuing play with a powerful 6-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 late in the second quarter.
The Antlers answered the Becker touchdown quickly via a 44-yard rocket from Lackey directly to the shoulder of senior wide receiver Gunnar Abel, pushing the Tivy lead to 20-14 after a missed extra point by senior kicker Treves Hyde.
An eight-minute, 75-yard scoring drive to open the second half ended with a 3-yard power run by Castillo to give the Mustangs their first lead, 21-20.
“Last week, we had two long drives that didn’t come away with points,” Herman said. “We had to preach finish.”
Following the touchdown, the Mustangs kicking team forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, with senior Eli Black recovering the football, affording the squad loads of momentum against a winded Tivy defense.
However, Smith fumbled the ball, and a sudden rain shower descended on Mustang Stadium as the third quarter came to a close.
As it continued to pour, both offenses struggled to gain momentum and push the ball throughout the majority of the fourth quarter.
After driving down to midfield, the Mustangs offense stalled with less than three minutes left in the game, forcing Marble Falls to gamble on a fourth-and-13. The conversion was unsuccessful, giving the Antlers a chance to grab the lead late in the game.
On the ensuing play, Lackey found senior wide receiver Jackson Johnson on a miraculous 39-yard play to push the ball inside the 30-yard line. Lackey connected with Johnson again on a 9-yard pass play as the senior quarterback barreled to his left.
Putting the team on his back, Lackey scrambled for a 19-yard play with less than a minute and a half less in the game. A two-point conversion gave the Antlers a 28-21 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, returnman Becker was able to gain separation while weaving through the Antlers kickoff team, giving the Mustangs fantastic field position to start the drive.
The effort by Becker would be all for not as Smith fumbled the ball on a blindside hit with 38 seconds left in the game, leading to the 28-21 win for the Antlers.
“We purposefully made our schedule the way we did it, playing tough 5As and teams that have had lots of success that expect to be winners,” Herman said. “All that was meant to challenge our kids and get better for district.”
The Mustangs travel to Fredericksburg next week to take on the Billies in the final non-district matchup before district play begins. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.