Once again the Mustangs season came to an abrupt halt on the campus of Angelo State University as they fell to the Eastland Mavericks 35-28,
This marked the third time in the last three tries the Mustangs season was ended at this almost 60-year-old stadium. The teams of 2013 and 2014 also saw their season end at the same place. However, this was the same stadium the Mustangs claimed a state championship back in 1960.
It wasn’t so much the Mustangs were playing bad as it was trying to play catchup from the opening quarter with Eastland who is the third-place team from District 3, also the DC was shutting down the Mavericks aerial attack that led to all five touchdowns, including the last nail in the Mustangs coffin with 1:54 left in the game. The winning touchdown came just minutes after the Mustangs had taken a 28-27 lead with 9:08 showing on the clock in the 4th quarter.
The Mustangs stopped Eastland with 7:42 left in the game but came up just short of a 1st down and were forced to punt the ball away. Taking over on their 37-yard line it took Eastland just six plays to cover the 63 yards that included two long receptions that got them inside the 5-yard line. From there they punched it in and after a 2-point conversion, they had once again taken the lead at 35-28 with 1:54 left in the game.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Mavericks were not able to muster any offense and eventually had to punt the ball away. Taking over on their 32-yard line Alexis Mendoza found some running room on his left side and made it inside the Mavericks 40 yard line. However, three plays later the Mustangs had to surrender the ball on downs.
Eastland took over on their 34-yard line and six plays later drew first blood. The PAT was good and with 7:42 left in the first quarter the Mustangs were on the downside of a 7-0 score.
The two teams exchanged punts before Eastland once again started on the 34-yard line on their end of the field. This time it took the Mavericks six plays to go 66 yards for their second score. Once again the PAT was good and Eastland upped their lead to 14-0 with 1:19 left in the first quarter. But the Mustangs showed some power themselves and went on a 12 play drive that consumed most of the 2nd quarter. Starting at the 1:11 mark of the first quarter and ending with 3:39 of the 2nd quarter quarterback Mario Sanchez found some running room from the five-yard line. Juan Herrera was good on the PAT and the Mustangs found themselves just trailing 14-7 with 3:39 left in the first half of play.
It didn’t take Eastland long to answer the Denver City score thanks to good field position. Starting close to midfield it took them just three plays to cover 51 yards to go up 20-7. This time the PAT was no good leaving the score at 20-7 heading into intermission.
Receiving the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter the Mustangs were quick to narrow the score when Sanchez found Nathaniel Cruz on a crossing pattern and hit him full stride for a 53-yard touchdown. Herrera was true on the PAT and the Mustangs had pulled within 20-14 with 10:11 left in the third quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, the Mustang defense forced Eastland into a three and out. Starting on their 43-yard line the Mustangs got some big gainers from Alexis and Arron along with a pass reception from Josh Mills to cover the 57 yards. Alexis once again found some running room on his left side and scooted in from ten yards out. Herrera added the PAT and just like that the Mustangs were on top 21-20 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
Once again Eastland bounced back to grab the lead. After another good kickoff return, the Mavericks started on their 43-yard line. In an eight-play drive they once again found the end zone and with 5:02 left in the third quarter went back on top 27-21 after the successful PAT. Not to be denied the Mustangs set up shop on their 40-yard line and in five plays tied things up on a six-yard run by Aaron Mendoza. Herrera again added the PAT and once again the Mustangs were back on top 28-27 9:08 left in the game. Eastland had to surrender the ball on downs on their next possession with the Mustangs taking over on their 17 needing a couple of first down to secure the win. But those first downs never came and Mills came on to punt the ball away.
That set the stage for the final four minutes of the game.
“Our kids played hard and deserved to win this one, but Eastland came up with some big plays when they needed to,” Coach Daniel Fontenot said. “We are losing a few seniors, but we will have a large number of juniors and sophomores coming back. We will start getting ready for the 2019 season next week.”
The Mustangs finished their season with an 8-4 record that included the district championship.