Marble Falls running back Jaime Castillo runs to his left as Lampasas safety Brock Langford attempts to bring him down with a jersey tackle. Photo by Stennis Shotts
After ending the first half tied, the Marble Falls Mustangs (2-7, 0-4 district) were unable to build off of their early success, losing 42-20 on Senior Night to the Lampasas Badgers (6-3, 3-1 district) in a District 13-4A Division 1 game at Mustang Stadium.
The Mustangs kept the game close through three quarters but were outscored 21-6 in the fourth quarter.
“There’s some really special things happening, it’s just not showing on the scoreboard,” said Marble Falls head coach Brian Herman. “That’s what hurts my heart the most. They’re not getting to experience the joy and the victory and the success of all the work they’re putting in. It tears me up. I don’t have words for it. These kids are awesome and I love them.”
Marble Falls opened the game with a surprise onside kick by senior A.J. Scovil, who scooped up the live ball and gave the Mustangs offense the first possession of the contest.
On Marble Falls’ first play from scrimmage, however, a pass play resulted in negative yards when junior quarterback Kody Smith was met by multiple Badgers defenders while rolling to his right. The play put the Mustangs behind the chains, leading to a fourth-down-and-eight situation.
Marble Falls kept up its aggressive playcalling, attempting a fake punt run via a pitch to junior Cam Graham. The Badgers met Graham inches before the junior was able to eclipse the first-down marker.
“We really had nothing to lose,” Herman said. “I felt like we had to pour it all out, and I thought our kids did as best we asked them to do. It just wasn’t enough.”
The Lampasas offense appeared committed to attacking the outside edges of the Marble Falls defense early in the contest, relying on a host of jet sweeps early in the game. The effort paid off in the end, with senior running back Aden Rascoe going untouched in his first score of the game on a 5-yard jet sweep to the right side.
After allowing the early touchdown, the Mustangs were able to cobble together a classic multiplay drive consisting of several breakout runs by junior running back Jaime Castillo and senior fullback Jasael Ruiz. The Mustangs consumed the rest of the first quarter on the lengthy drive, ending with a 5-yard Ruiz touchdown near the goal line.
Continuing to play aggressively, Herman dialed up an inside run for sophomore guard Mark Villalobos on an ensuing two-point conversion. The sophomore offensive lineman was unable to break through a gang of Badgers defenders, leading to a 7-6 score early in the second quarter.
Demonstrating a balanced approach offensively, the Badgers drove the ball to the 25-yard line thanks to a combination of tough inside runs and wide receiver screens to the outside. Senior quarterback David Flores capped off the drive with a wide-arching 25-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Owen Stubbs.
The Mustangs offense appeared lifeless after the Flores touchdown until a deep pass play to senior tight end Brian Beltran created separation down field. Capitalizing on the momentum created by Smith’s deep bomb, the Mustangs later scored on the drive on a 20-yard touchdown run on a stretch play to Castillo. A successful two-point conversion by Castillo tied the game at 14-14 with roughly four minutes left in the half.
The fast-paced Badgers looked poised to score after returning the ball to midfield. The Mustangs defense refused to allow Lampasas to gain any momentum on the drive, ending it with a strong tackle by senior defensive lineman Kevin Aguilar on a huge stop on third down.
Rather than going deep down field, the Mustangs chose to play conservatively with little time remaining in the half. The teams entered the locker room tied 14-14.
“At halftime, for multiple weeks in a row, I thought we were in a great spot,” Herman said. “I thought we were right where we needed to be. I gave them a vision for the second half, and it didn’t go quite the way we wanted it to.”
Both teams looked stale entering the third quarter before Lampasas was able to take the lid off the game with a 2-yard touchdown run by Rascoe midway through the quarter.
Penalties by the Mustangs offensive line made life difficult for the squad, leading to consecutive scoreless drives as the third quarter came to a close. Taking advantage of the tired Marble Falls defensive front, Rascoe scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns, leading to a 35-14 score with less than six minutes in the contest.
A strong kick return by sophomore Kole Becker gave the Mustangs the best field position of the game. After two 15-yard penalties were committed by the Badgers defense, the Mustangs fed the ball to Castillo for his final touchdown of the outing. An unsuccessful two-point conversion put the game at 35-20 with roughly four minutes left of action.
Refusing to give the Mustangs any life, the Badgers were able to put the final nail in the coffin on a long touchdown run by Rascoe to end the game, 42-20.
“We’re celebrating and honoring the kids that are still fighting,” Herman said. “There is nobody that is being left out.”
The Mustangs will travel to San Antonio for the season finale against the Davenport Wolves (8-1, 3-1 district) on Friday, Nov. 4.