Lions defeat Manor 28-20, cinch playoff spot
By Alonzo Garza
The Varsity Lions secured a spot in the playoffs, after traveling to Manor and winning a hard-fought 28-20 victory over the Mustangs at the old Mustang Stadium on Friday Nov. 7.
The game started with Manor winning the coin toss and choosing to receive. With the home-field advantage and a stadium full of cheering fans, Mustang
s wasted little time getting points on the scoreboard with their aggressive offense.
The Lions, too, were determined to stay in the game and remained focused and aggressive throughout the night.
“Our young men played great and made some big time plays right when we needed them,” Head Coach Troy Moses said. “Our ‘refuse to lose’ attitude really showed when we made a fourth-and-goal stop on the 2-yard line. That is what champions are made of. When it is crunch time and they step up and make the plays.”
“We knew Manor would come out ready to play,” Defensive Coach Ernie Bustamante said. “They have an explosive offense that created some match up problems for us, but I felt our defense stepped up to the challenge and left it all on the field. Being able to hold the Manor offense to only six points in the second half was huge.”
The Mustangs took charge of the field early in the first quarter, scoring on the third play of the game with an 86-yard touchdown pass to Manor wide receiver Daquan Roberts from quarterback Riley Beecher at 10:39. The extra point kick by Beecher was good for a score of 7-0 at the top of the first.
After a kick return by Octavio Terrazas for a first-and-ten at the 40-yard line, the Lions answered with a long, drawn out, deliberate process, which included 18 plays for a 67-yard drive by Dominique Hardaway, Zachary Leija and Richard Ybarra.
At 3:34, Ybarra’s carry was short of the first down and the Lions faced a fourth-and-one. By 3:07, Hardaway got a first-and-ten at the Manor 11-yard line. At 1:41 the Lions received a false start penalty for a loss of five yards and a second-and-nine.
Leija carried the ball to the one-yard line with 46 seconds remaining in the first and Kory Robbins scored the first Lion touchdown with his crushing one-yard rush, ending the first at a seven-point tie after Michael Pittman’s’ extra point kick.
The Mustangs scored first in the second quarter also. They took the lead with a 19-yard touchdown run by LaDarrien Williams. Beecher’s kick was good for a score of 14-7.
The Lions worked hard to move the ball forward. After two possessions, they drove the ball 64-yards with seven rushing plays. With most of the quarter gone, the Lions pushed harder and at 34 seconds remaining, Hardaway made a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14 with Pittman’s kick.
John Alvarez intercepted a Manor pass with 27 seconds remaining in the first half, delivering the Lions a crucial turnover and ending the half tied at 14.
The third quarter began with the Lions scoring first at the top of the quarter. Hardaway scored with a 21-yard touchdown run at 10:33 and Pittman’s kick made the score 21-14.
The Lion defense kept the Mustangs from scoring any points in the third. The Mustangs drove the ball to the Lion one-yard line, but could not break through.
The Lions took possession of the ball at their own one-yard line at 4:32 and moved it forward as far as the Mustang 37-yard line to end the quarter at 21-14.
The fourth quarter began with a Lion fumble at the top of the quarter. Manor recovered the fumble for a first-and-ten at the 50-yard line at 11:54.
The Mustangs moved the ball for three first-and-tens and gained considerable yardage after a 15-yard penalty against the Lions for being off sides. At 8:53 the Mustangs lost 10-yards for holding, but still end up at the Lion 25-yard line.
The Mustangs were one point away from a tie after a 25-yard touchdown run by Donte Moore and a blocked extra point kick with 8:37 remaining in the game.
At 8:27, Christian Estrada returned the ball to the 47-yard line. At 7:45 Ybarra carried for a first-and-ten at the 37-yard line. From 7:39 to 5:28, Hardaway, with the help of a tired but solid Lion offensive line, carried the ball from the 37-yard line to the 20-yard line. He then rushed from the 20 to the 16 to the 12 and finally the 7-yard line.
With 3:37 remaining in the game, Robbins muscled his way in for a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle for a 28-0 lead after a good kick from Pittman.
The Mustang team tried to rally, but after two back-to-back incomplete passes and timeouts, Manor ran out of time.
The Lions took control of the ball at 1:05. After a Hardaway carry and a delay of game penalty, the Lions took the final knee to run out the clock and cinched a post-season playoff game.
“Manor scored to make it 21-20 and by blocking the extra point attempt, the Lions showed they were determined to walk away from that field with a victory,” Moses said. “After the blocked extra point we had one of the best drives we’ve had all year. We took the ball with 8:45 on the clock and drove down the field and score with 2:58 left in the game.”
“I think we are realizing what it takes to win big ball games,” Bustamante said. “The goal line stand in the third quarter and the blocked extra point highlighted a great defensive effort.”
The Lions had 26 first downs in the game while allowing only ten from the Mustangs. The Lions were given three penalties for a loss of 25 yards while the Mustangs lost 40 yards with six penalties.
Hardaway rushed for 220 yards with 31 carries against Manor. Leija rushed for 57 yards with 10 carries and Ybarra rushed for 56 yards with 10 carries of his own.
Robbins rushed for 38 yards with nine carries.
Lion quarterback Tyler Tolley completed one 19-yard pass to Randy Castillo during the primarily ground game at Manor. The Lions ran the ball 61 times for a total of 376 yards against the Mustangs.
“I am extremely proud of everything this team has accomplished this season,” Moses said. “We have had some good times and some bad times, but through it all we have stuck together. Now we are in the Texas High School Playoffs. Every year this is an exciting time for high school football and being a part of the playoffs makes it that much more exciting. This is something that these young men will take with them for the rest of their lives.”
“We are very proud of this group, especially the seniors,” Bustamante said. “They have worked extremely hard throughout their high school career and they truly deserve the experience of playoff football. This week we face a very stiff challenge in preparing for Huntsville’s offense. They will be huge up front and have some great athletes at the skilled positions. It is exciting to prepare for this type of ball game. It should be a barn-burner.”
See you at the game