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Ducks overwhelm Mustangs 46-22

Marble Falls senior safety Dax Murphy

Marble Falls senior safety Dax Murphy forces a fumble inside the 5-yard line during a 46-22 loss to the Taylor Ducks on Oct. 20. Photo by Stennis Shotts

The Marble Falls Mustangs (1-6, 0-3 district) lost 46-22 to the Taylor Ducks (4-4, 1-2) in a District 13-4A home game on Oct. 20 after trailing 10-7 at halftime.

It was a tale of two halves for the Mustangs, and head coach Brian Herman had mixed emotions on the defeat.

“I felt really good about where we were headed,” he said. “It seems to be a same song, next verse, where we get late in the game and we don’t seem to have enough and teams start to separate from us.”

The Mustangs defense started out hot, forcing a three-and-out courtesy of tough coverage and strong play inside by the linebackers. The offense was unable to return the favor, failing to convert on a fake punt on fourth down at midfield.

Taylor senior running back Jackson Meller breathed new life into the Ducks offense with several shifty runs, putting his squad into scoring position. Mustangs junior safety Kole Becker responded to the run attack, forcing a fumble on the 1-yard-line to keep the contest scoreless.

The Ducks once again found themselves in scoring position after another unsuccessful Mustangs drive, but the Marble Falls defense held again, forcing a turnover on downs on fourth-and-2.

Mustangs senior Jaime Castillo followed the defensive stop with an electrifying 89-yard rushing touchdown up the middle of the field to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Taylor answered on its ensuing drive with a 31-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Miguel Morales after several pass plays by senior quarterback Joshua Mikulencak put the ball in range. 

Castillo continued his dominant running on the next Marble Falls drive with several big rushes inside to push the ball to midfield. The senior back ran out of gas on a fourth-and-short play, giving the Ducks the ball with a hair under three minutes left in the half. The Ducks capitalized with a 3-yard touchdown by senior running back Marcus Jackson and took a 10-7 lead.

To open the second half, Marble Falls junior quarterback Colton Minor found sophomore Joaquin Aguilar streaking down the middle of the field on a 43-yard touchdown pass. The unorthodox play call gave the Mustangs a 14-10 lead early in the third.

The Ducks jumped back in front quickly when Mikulencak found senior wide receiver Jordan Pickereill on a 23-yard pass across the middle of the field, gaining a touchdown advantage. After forcing a Mustang punt, Taylor added its lead with a high-arcing, 80-yard touchdown pass from Mikulencak to Meller, pushing the score to 24-14 late in the third.

A pivotal 4-yard run on fourth down at midfield by Marble Falls’ Castillo on the next drive created some much-needed momentum for the Mustangs on the final play of the quarter. But the Mustangs’ offense ran out of juice later in the drive, leading to a long punt by senior Isaac “Larry” Larranaga to put the ball inside the 10-yard line. 

Unphased by the poor field position, Mikulencak found his brother, senior wide receiver Jake Mikulencak, on a 65-yard touchdown to push the Ducks’ lead to 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

Penalties by the Mustangs on the ensuing drive hampered the squad’s chances to respond to the Taylor score. A muffed punt by Larranaga led to excellent field position for the Ducks on the Marble Falls 25-yard line. Senior running back Kytrevius Sanford scored a touchdown on the next play to further his team’s advantage.

A big kick return by Marble Falls’ Aguilar put the ball on the Ducks’ 39-yard line with less than five minutes left in the contest. Four plays later, Minor found junior wide receiver Jett Martich on a touchdown pass. Castillo punched the ball in on a two-point conversion to make it 38-22 with four minutes left.

The Mikulencak brothers connected one final time on a 66-yard touchdown pass for the Ducks late in the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion pushed the game out of reach for the Mustangs.

“(The Ducks) average 40 points a game,” Herman said. “They’re explosive, they’re electric, they’re dynamic. They’ve got playmakers all over the field. That’s what I was afraid of.”

The Mustangs are still seeking their first District 13-4A win of the year in their final road game of the season against the Lampasas Badgers (6-1, 2-0 district) at Badger Field, 190 E. Avenue B in Lampasas. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve got to fight for pride at this point,” Herman said. “Mathematically, I don’t see a chance for anything at this point. We’ve got two of the best teams in the district for the final two games, so we’ll have to assess our health and see who’s ready to go.”