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Mustangs drop district opener to Canyon Lake, 42-7

Marble Falls Gavin Hernandez and Jaime Castillo

Marble Falls lineman Gavin Hernandez leads the way for quarterback Jaime Castillo during the district opener against Canyon Lake on Friday, Oct. 7. The Hawks won 42-7. Photo by Daniel Clifton

The Marble Falls Mustangs (2-4) struggled to gain momentum in their first District 13-4A Division I matchup against the Canyon Lake Hawks (2-3), losing 42-7 at Hawks Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.

“We did things tonight that, in different circumstances, we wouldn’t have done,” head coach Brian Herman said. “We went for it multiple times in bad situations because we got behind the eight ball and we just couldn’t recover.”

Opting to stack the box with eight defenders, the Hawks contained the Mustangs running game early. The scheme forced Marble Falls to punt several times throughout the first quarter.

Responding well, the Mustangs defensive line, headed by senior tackle Kevin Aguilar, dominated the line of scrimmage. The commanding play by the Marble Falls defenders forced Hawks senior quarterback Hunter Anderson out of rhythm, allowing the Mustangs to keep the game close early on.

“(Aguilar) played outstanding,” Herman said. “I’ll have to look at film to find out who else played to that level. (Aguilar) was obvious, but with film, we’ll find more positives and negatives, I’m sure.”

On the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, Marble Falls senior fullback Jasael Ruiz went on a 56-yard run to the left side of the field to put the ball inside the red zone. After a few inside runs for small gains, junior quarterback Jaime Castillo manufactured a touchdown on a power run to give the Mustangs the first score of the game.

As if a switch had been flipped, the Hawks answered with a 34-yard run by junior running back Justin Abbott. The big run set up an easy goal-line touchdown for Anderson to tie the game, 7-7.

On the ensuing possession, the Mustangs failed to put anything together, forcing a fourth-down situation on the 40-yard line. Rather than taking the punt, Herman opted to strike while the iron was hot and keep his offense on the field. A poor snap on fourth down gave Castillo little chance to convert as a gang of Canyon Lake defenders surrounded the quarterback.

Feeding off of the momentum from the last possession, Hawks junior running back Justin Abbott used his shiftiness to bust a 34-yard gain. The Hawks took the lead on the following play with a 6-yard jet sweep by Johnson to take the lead, 14-7.

On their next possession, the Mustangs were forced to kick another punt, giving the red-hot Hawks another chance at points before the second quarter drew to a close.

Johnson continued to assert his power and speed. The 200-pound back trucked several would-be Mustangs tacklers to the turf on a 33-yard play. On the subsequent play, Canyon Lake went to the air, finding senior wide receiver Chase Anderson on a 27-yard touchdown grab and pushing the lead to 21-7 off of a well-placed pass by Anderson in the back corner of the endzone.

Determined to start the second half strong, the Hawks kept running the ball with Johnson. The commitment paid off as Johnson weaved through the defense on his way to his second touchdown of the game on a 45-yard inside run. The Hawks went up 28-7.

Using a bit of trickery after a failed possession riddled with penalties by Marble Falls, Canyon Lake found some magic through a halfback pass by Johnson to wide receiver Chase Anderson on a 53-yard pass for the final score of the third quarter.

While fighting for extra yards to start the fourth quarter, Hawks sophomore James Garza coughed up the football on a fumble after being pushed by his offensive line for several positive yards, giving the Mustangs life early in the fourth quarter. The offense struggled to capitalize on the turnover, however, going four-and-out. 

With a 35-7 lead late in the fourth quarter, Canyon Lake head coach Charley Drum put in his backups to give them a chance to play in a district setting and see who would stand out. Senior tailback A.J. Acosta answered the call, scoring on a jet sweep to the left side on the final score of the game.

The Mustangs look to wash away the loss as they return home to play the Burnet Bulldogs in the first district game in over two decades for the crosstown rivals.

“I’m more worried about our kids than I am Burnet,” Herman said. “We need to heal from this and find the positives. I don’t doubt we’ll have a different energy for next week since it’s a rivalry game. It will be different next week.”

nathan@thepicayune.com