Lions drop Mustangs in huge home-field win
By LPR Staff
With only five seconds burned off the clock, the quiet, confident smile on Head Coach Brian Herman’s face gave no hint of the drama that would follow as the Lions picked up their first District win of the season on Friday night, in an action-packed standoff with the Marble Falls Mustangs.
Parting with his usual habit of electing to receive in the second half, Herman won the toss and chose to start his offense, a decision that would set the tone for much of the rest of the night.
Austin Garcia returned the kickoff to the Mustangs’ 37-yard line, and on the first play of the game, junior phenom running back Daequan Ellison got a clear shot on a 64-yard run to give the Lions an early lead.
Working with the wind, kicker Juan Ocampo easily hit the point-after attempt, to put the Lions up 7-0.
Marble Falls answered with a slow march to the end zone, tying the game on a two-yard run and a solid kick.
Back in possession, the Lions tromped up the field, fueled by Garcia’s strength and Ellison’s speed. On a quarterback keep on second-and-6, Logan Brown read the defense for an opening and took it, charging on a 64-yard touchdown run. Ocampo’s kick put the Lions up 14-0.
The Mustangs answered back again, using the speed of their receivers to get an 11-yard touchdown pass into the end zone.
The second quarter equated to a defensive battle, with turnovers plaguing the Lion offense, while the defense locked down, choking the Mustangs’ pass plays, and stopping them short on the ground.
Midway through the quarter, Ellison found pay dirt again, putting the Lions ahead 21-14.
The Mustangs were able to get within striking distance, but the Lion defense stopped them just outside the red, setting the Marble Falls kicker up for a 30-yard field goal attempt to cut the Lions lead to 21-17 as the half wound down.
After the break, a regrouped Mustang squad was able to capitalize on offensive mistakes from the Lions, to take a 24-21 lead.
For the remainder of the third, and throughout the fourth quarter, the teams traded defensive blows, covering ground going both ways, but never making good.
Until, with 35 seconds left on the clock, Ellison pushed through the Mustangs’ defensive line for a Lion touchdown.
With one last chance at victory, the Mustangs started a quick, deliberate drive, again relying on the speed of their receivers to gain ground.
As the buzzer sounded, the quarterback nearly connected in the end zone, but senior defensive back Brandon Finger was on hand to break up the pass and save the Lion victory.
An emotional victory for many reasons, including the dedication of the game to “Team Officer” Victor “Smitty” Terrell, who has been fighting ill health this season, few Lions were able to keep their emotions in check in a celebration full of happy tears.
“Winning a close game by overcoming adversity should provide opportunities for growth for the younger players,” Herman said. “And winning at home sure made it sweeter.”
Ellison had a huge night on offense, picking up 266 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. One of the leading rushers in District 26-5A, if not the top seed, Ellison has carried for 1,198 yards so far this season.
Plagued by a season full of tough opponents and self-inflicted wounds, the Lions will close the season on the road this week against the Kerrville Tivy Antlers.
“Kerrville is one of those teams that we have a mental block with,” Herman said. “[The team] believed they could beat Marble Falls, and that allowed them to stay confident despite the circumstances. When we believe we can win, we are much better, so we just have to go [to Tivy] and play with blinders on.”
With a 7-2 (5-1) record on the season, the Antlers floundered against the Dripping Springs Tigers, and recently handed the Seguin Matadors a 49-28 loss.
Antler Stadium is located on Stadium Drive in Kerrville. Kickoff is slated at 7:30 p.m.