Offensive line dominates line of scrimmage in bi-district victory
Mustangs junior kicker Logan Barnes put a 40-yard field goal right down the middle with 1.5 seconds left to upset Brenham 27-24 on Friday night on the road.
Junior quarterback Jake Becker spiked the ball to stop the clock with five seconds left, and Mustangs Head Coach Brian Herman sent out the young kicker. Barnes said he estimated his comfortable range to be about 35 yards, but his coaches filled him with confidence for the 40- yard attempt.
“I was just being told ‘smooth kick; focus on the ball and nothing else,’” he said. “They started telling me at two minutes left to start getting my leg ready. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t think it would be today.”
“I wasn’t worried about the range,” Herman said. “When they tried to ice him, I made him go over to coach (Clay) Bode, who has been the kicker whisperer all year. “I told the rest of the team ‘either we’re going to win it here or go to overtime,’” he added. “It was a no-risk deal unless something really bad happened.”
The field goal was executed perfectly, just the second all year for the junior kicker – one to open the game, and one to end it.
“I got amazing blocks; no one came outside, and no one came close to coming inside,” Barnes said. “I had an amazing hold by (senior) Hunter Bradshaw, and I just kicked it.”
Although it was the highlight of the game, the field goal was far from the only play that mattered. The Mustangs stuck to their gameplan throughout the night to create the favorable scenario.
“I wanted this to be the most boring game anyone has ever seen,” Herman said. “Our defense only had to play 10 snaps in the first half; I think we wore them down in the first half, and we took advantage of a tired defense.”
Herman said the team averages about 60 offensive snaps per game this season but ran 41 in the first half against the Cubs.
At the start of the second quarter, the Mustangs trailed 7-3 and took over possession. They took nearly seven minutes off the clock with a long drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Becker to junior running back Roberto Adame.
On the ensuing Cubs drive, the Mustangs defense got a stop on third down after the Brenham running back dropped a swing pass. On fourth down, Brenham caught the aggressive defense off guard with a screen pass that went for a 38-yard touchdown to give the Cubs the lead 14-10.
The Mustangs took over with 2:28 left; the drive would serve as a practice run at a two-minute drill. It started promising with a pair of conversions, but back-toback false starts derailed the momentum. Marble Falls entered the break trailing by four points.
Brenham opened with the ball and converted another fourth down to move the ball into Mustangs’ territory. A botched handoff set the Cubs’ offense back, and a completion on third down left them a little short.
Brenham’s coach called their first timeout to discuss strategy and opted for three points on a field goal to go up 17-10.
The Marble Falls’ offense responded with another long drive – nearly six minutes of game time – that ended with a touchdown. Becker pushed the ball through the middle of the defense on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line to tie the game at 17.
The success running up the middle may have come to a surprise to some fans due to Brenham’s two very large defensive tackles. Herman said the team didn’t plan on avoiding them.
“Everybody we watched on film had success running at them,” he said. “We wanted to keep the ball inside and wear them down. We tried not to bounce runs outside where [Brenham’s] athletes are.”
As the Cubs took over, junior safety Chris Whitecotton delivered the spark the Mustangs needed to change the tide of the game. A cub receiver broke free in the secondary, but the pass went off his hands; Whitecotton laid out and cleanly secured the interception to keep the game knotted at 17.
The ‘Stangs again put together a long, methodical drive. The consistent conversions forced Brenham’s coach to use the team’s second timeout to give his defense a rest.
With 6:16 left in the game, Becker scrambled for his second rushing touchdown – third total – to give the Mustangs the lead 24-17.
The Cubs responded with a long drive of their own. Mustangs senior linebacker Mason Neill stopped the momentum with a tackle for loss on second down, and the rest of the defense forced an incompletion on third down. Facing the potential end of the game, Brenham’s quarterback scanned the field on fourth down and dropped a pass into the endzone for the tying score.
But the Cubs left the visitors with just over two minutes to work.
Adame started the drive with a huge run into Cubs’ territory. The Cubs’ defense stiffened and forced a fourth down from the 37-yard line. Herman called the Mustangs’ final timeout.
When the punt team came out, Brenham didn’t even send a returner back. Everyone in the stadium knew it was a fake, but the Cubs’ defense still couldn’t stop it.
A short snap went to the left, and the ball was handed back right on the reverse. The conversion set up the game-winning field goal.
“I’m proud of the kids; there was a lot of belief in themselves,” Herman said. “This was a huge upset.
“Did I believe in us? Yes,” he added. “Not many other people gave us credit, but we get to play another week.”
The win advances the Mustangs to the second round where they will face Sharyland Pioneer. Pioneer defeated Medina Valley 42-23 in the opening round matchup.
The game is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at San Antonio’s Heroes Stadium, 4799 Thousand Oaks Drive.