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Ball security key as Mustangs head to home-strong Brownwood

Marble Falls vs. Pflugerville Connally football, Aug. 25, 2023

Marble Falls defenders gang tackle Pflugerville Connally running back Jamal Abercrumbia. The Mustangs lost the season opener 40-14 on Aug. 25 at home. They travel to Brownwood on Sept. 1 to take on the Lions. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Photo by Stennis Shotts

The Marble Falls Mustangs (0-1) are hitting the road to take on defending District 2-4A champion Brownwood Lions (1-0). Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Gordon Wood Stadium, 3206 Milam Drive. 

Listen to the game live on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, at KBEYFM.com, or via the free KBEY mobile app. Pregame starts at 7 p.m. Fans can also watch a livestream of the contest at DailyTrib.com.

The matchup follows a disappointing 40-14 loss by the Mustangs (District 13-4A) to open the season against the Pflugerville Connally Cougars. Turnovers and unforced errors were big contributors to the final score.

“The biggest thing offensively is we put the ball on the ground 11 times and four of them were taken way from us,” Mustangs head coach Brian Herman told KBEY’s Ben Shields during an interview. “It’s hard to win football games when you have that number of wasted plays.”

Herman pointed to the Cougars’ tackling style for the uptick in turnovers.

“I’ve never seen so many open-field cut tackles, where the second- and third-level defenders for Connally were coming up and taking out our legs,” he said. “They weren’t even trying to wrap us up and take us down. They were literally diving at us. … When our kids were being cut (tackled), they were worried about their legs, and their hands were coming off the ball.”

Herman focused ball security and counteracting cut tackles during this week’s practices, he told Shields.

“We’ve been putting them through some mock situations,” the coach said. “Obviously, we’re not trying to cut them in practice — that wouldn’t be beneficial for our health — but we’ve tried to put them in positions where they’re out of balance and having to make sure they secure the ball as they’re possibly going to the ground.”

The Mustangs’ offensive line was a highlight in the game against Connally.

“That’s probably the one bright spot,” Herman said. “I thought we had pretty good open holes to run through. Honestly, it was (Connally’s) second- and third-level defenders that were causing the most problems for us.”

Herman is aware of the challenge the Brownwood team presents. 

“The scary thing about Brownwood is they have lots of confidence traditionally, especially at home,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what their home record is, but it’s pretty good. Most people don’t win when they go to Brownwood.”

Last season, the Lions beat Marble Falls won 55-16 at Mustang Stadium. Lions quarterback Ike Hall, then a junior, torched the Mustangs defense with nearly 250 all-purpose yards.

“Unfortunately, their quarterback is returning from last year,” Herman said. “He’s electric.”

Hall appears to be in form again this season. The Lions defeated the Abilene Wylie Bulldogs 35-21 in Week 1, and the dual-threat QB had 253 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns.

“He’s even better than he was last year,” Herman said.

Stopping Hall will be difficult.

“He’s a do-it-all guy,” Herman said. “He’s going to give it, he’s going to run it, he’s going to throw it. We have to be disciplined.”

nathan@thepicayune.com