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Fourth-quarter surge puts Bobcats over Mustangs

Chaparral beats Marble Falls 34-21

Marble Falls head coach Brian Herman barks orders at his offense as they attempt to overcome a 13-point deficit late in the fourth quarter against Killeen Chaparral. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

The Marble Falls Mustangs (0-3) battled with the Killeen Chaparral Bobcats (1-2) in a 34-21 road loss on Friday, Sept. 8. The Mustangs led the game 21-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Hard hits, tough runs, and strong blocks were the story of the game as the two run-heavy Slot-T offenses looked to win the contest in the trenches.

Marble Falls head coach Brian Herman was upset with the way his team finished the game, allowing 14 unanswered to end the outing.

“It’s all there, it just has to be consistent,” he said. “They have to learn not to get their head down when things go the wrong way. We’ve been talking about it all week. The results are about how you respond to a negative play.”

The Chaparral offense wasted no time in putting points on the board to start the contest, scoring a touchdown on a 12-yard rush by running back sophomore Davian Arthur following a 68-yard run to the left side by sophomore tailback Kenneth Johnson. A missed point-after attempt made the score 6-0.

After a quick drive that led to a three-and-out for the Mustangs, senior punter Isaac Larranaga managed to create some momentum for the Marble Falls squad, pinning the ball inside the Bobcats’ 5-yard-line on a high-arching punt.

Chaparral’s Arthur continued his strong performance from earlier, scampering for a 64-yard breakout run on third down to the 27-yard-line. Marble Falls forced a turnover on downs with a strong defensive effort on four straight plays.

The Mustangs started to gain steam after the big defensive stop. Herman turned to senior fullback Dominic Fierro, senior tailback Jaime Castillo, and sophomore running back Joaquin Aguilar to capitalize on the improved spirits of his squad.

In a break from the team’s regular playcalling, Mustangs junior quarterback Noah Luckie connected with Aguilar on a screen play to move the sticks. On the following play, Herman kept it with Aguilar on a stretch run play to the right side for a 20-yard touchdown. A successful Larranaga PAT gave the Mustangs the lead, 7-6.

The Bobcats followed with a methodical drive on the next possession as the Chaparral squad looked to beat the Mustangs by utilizing the inside run game. A strong run by junior fullback Keith Tyler was enough to help the Bobcats regain the lead. A successful jump pass to junior wide receiver Tristian Pezzelle made the score 14-7.

Marble Falls expanded the number of available runners on the next drive, calling plays for seven unique ball handlers during the possession. The team’s creativity paid off as the Mustangs tied the game 14-14 behind a strong 2-yard touchdown by Castillo.

With less than two minutes left in the half, the Bobcats switched from their regular Slot-T strategy and elected to move the ball through the air. Following a sack by Marble Falls junior Thomas Valdez, Chaparral junior quarterback Joel Secrist completed a 52-yard bomb to Johnson. Arthur punched it into the end zone several plays later on a 2-yard run play to give the Bobcats a 20-14 lead heading into halftime.

Castillo opened the second half with a 32-yard stretch run to the right side. Herman didn’t hesitate to continue feeding the senior tailback following the big run as the Bobcats’ defense began to show signs of fatigue. The Mustangs capitalized on the tired legs of Chaparral with a 9-yard touchdown run to Castillo to take the lead 21-20.

The Mustangs continued to take advantage of the wornout Bobcats after forcing a punt on the prior Chaparral drive. Castillo and Aguilar were the main benefactors of the drive, rushing for multiple large gains to push the ball down the field. The drive ended with an unsuccessful 44-yard field goal attempt by Larranaga.

The Bobcats responded with a renewed emphasis on physicality. A misdirection play to Taylor led to a 29-yard touchdown run for Chaparral. A successful two-point conversion gave the Bobcats a 28-21 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Bobcats elected to pooch kick the ball to the 40-yard line. A friendly Chaparral bounce allowed the Bobcats to bounce on top of it and steal a possession away from the Mustangs.

“The miscue in the kicking game was the dealbreaker right there,” Herman said. “It made a one-score-game a two-score-game.”

Johnson cashed in a touchdown on the following drive with a 31-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Secrist to give Chaparral the 34-21 win.

The Mustangs end their three-game road trip next week at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 against the Kerrville Tivy Antlers (3-0) at Antler Stadium, 1310 Sidney Baker St. in Kerrville.