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Mustangs shut out by Tivy

Marble Falls football vs. Kerrville Tivy, Sept. 15, 2023

Marble Falls junior quarterback Noah Luckie rolls to his left as junior Mason Long vies for a reception late in the fourth quarter in a 34-0 loss to the Kerrville Tivy Antlers on Sept. 15. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

The Marble Falls Mustangs (0-4) lost 34-0 to the undefeated Kerrville Tivy Antlers (4-0) on Sept. 15, marking an end to a three-game road stand.

The Mustangs struggled with turnovers and injuries, head coach Brian Herman said.

“We lost four turnovers and we lost two running backs in the first half,” he said. “I got hamstringed. I ran out of (running backs).”

A defensive battle at the start, neither offense was able to gain momentum during a scoreless first quarter. Junior linebacker Thomas Valdez and senior defensive back Dax Murphy were critical to Marble Falls’ defensive strategy early in the game, forcing several quick passes by Tivy senior quarterback Jaxson Kincaid.

In the beginning of the second quarter, Herman rolled the dice and called a fake punt run on fourth down for tailback Joaquin Aguilar. The sophomore talent capitalized on the gutsy call, hurtling past midfield to gain the first down. 

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, on another fourth down later in the drive, senior running back Jaime Castillo coughed up the football on a fumble recovered by the Antlers.

The Antlers subbed in senior quarterback Julian Rhodes for Kincaid, and he didn’t waste much time making an impact, finding senior Stormy Rhodes for a 25-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score, 7-0.

Tivy continued its dominance toward the end of the half as Julian Rhodes found Stormy Rhodes for another 25-yard pass on the sideline to put the ball on the goal line. Senior tailback Aidan Varwig punched the ball in for a touchdown on the next play, and the Antlers led 14-0 heading into the half.

The Tivy offense continued its success in the second half, relying on Varwig and junior running back Domynik Vasquez to vex the Mustangs with their mix of physical and shifty running to start the third quarter. The tough running resulted in Varwig’s second score of the game following a lengthy six-minute drive. 

“(Tivy) did what they do,” Herman said. “They played great defense and played good enough offense.”

On the ensuing drive, the Mustangs tried to regain momentum behind the legs of Castillo. The senior running back spun out of several attempted tackles on the drive as Marble Falls pushed closer to scoring position. The offense stalled, forcing a punt by senior Isaac “Larry” Larranaga.

A strong defensive stand by Marble Falls led to fantastic field position for the Mustangs with over 11 minutes left in the contest. The Mustangs were unable to capitalize on the field position after a surge by the Tivy defensive line on fourth down.

The Antlers offense looked to chew the clock late in the game to preserve the lead. That all changed following a tricky halfback pass from sophomore tailback Guy Flores to Stormy Rhodes for a long touchdown grab.

A pick six by Tivy senior Nick Landrum on the final play of the game secured the 34-0 win for the Antlers.

“It’s frustrating that there’s times where there’s flashes of what we’re capable of and then there’s times when we don’t execute,” Herman said. “It’s frustrating.”

The Mustangs look to get their first win of the season as they host the Fredericksburg Battlin’ Billies (0-4) on Sept. 22 for homecoming at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

nathan@thepicayune.com