September 28, 2022
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Martinez makes 23-yard field goal, Mules beat Tigers

By Delton Wilhite

Robert Brault, an American writer, once wrote, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Brady Martinez split the uprights with a 23-yard field goal Friday night that proved to be the difference for a Mule win over the Slaton Tigers. Twenty-three yards may not seem like much, but when it is your first field goal, it can look like a mile. But the Mules blocked the onrushing Tigers, Yoel Reyes caught the deep snap and perfectly placed the ball on the tee for Martinez’ talented toe to drive between the uprights.
The field goal came with 9:05 remaining in the first half to cut Slaton’s lead to 7-3. The Mules came back in the second half to take the lead twice and held the Tigers at bay for the final seven minutes and 42 seconds of the game for a 17-14 district win.

The Mules opening kick of the game went out of bounds, and the Tigers started their drive at the Tiger 30. It took the Tigers 10 plays to march 70 yards for a touchdown. Kevondrick Gober scooted in from eight yards out for what proved to be the Tigers only score of the first half. The drive had consumed almost five minutes.
The Mules offense sputtered, and Ryan Rodriguez launched a low rugby-style punt that bounced and rolled 58 yards until a waiting Y. Reyes and Ean Hasley stopped it at the Slaton one-yard line.
“It is a toss-up as to which was the turning point in the game,” said Mules’ head coach, David Wood. “Ryan’s (Rodriguez) punt flipped the field and forced Slaton to drive the length of the field. Brady (Martinez) field goal was the difference in the game and kept us close until we could get our offense untracked.”
“Both proved to be big plays for us. Slaton is a talented team that could beat any team in the district. We were fortunate to come away with the win.”
Following Rodriguez’ punt, the Tigers drove to the Mule 28-yard line when the Slaton quarterback pitched the ball to Gober. Gober could not find the handle on the ball, and it dropped to the grass.
Corbin Hardwick pounced on the ball at the Mule 30. Rodriguez gained three yards, and on third down, Mikey Lozano fired a bullet to Romeo Reyes for a first down. Lozano kept the ball and headed upfield and was walloped.
The ball shot upfield, and R. Reyes jumped on the ball for a Mule first down at the Slaton 48. That play ended the first quarter with the Mules trailing 7-0.
Lozano kept the ball to start the second period and followed Rodriguez wide left. He cut behind a block by Rodriguez and Martinez paved the way for Lozano to gain 11 yards. One of the Mules moved on first down, and the penalty set the Mules back five yards. Lozano held onto the ball for an 11-yard gain, and a personal-foul penalty advanced the Mules to the Slaton 10-yard line.
The Mule drive stalled at the Slaton six-yard line. Martinez booted the field goal to put the Mules on the board trailing the Tigers 7-3. That score held until the intermission.
Slaton kicked off to start the second half to the Mule 20. Matthew Alarcon returned to the Mule 29-yard line.
Leonel Camarena and Eddie Vasquez pulled from the right side of the Mule line. Luke Del Toro took the deep snap and handed off to Lozano headed left. Rudy Ruiz and Carlos Meza double-teamed the defensive tackle while Camarena took out the defensive end.

Jacob Kettner pancaked the cornerback, and Lozano split a pair of Tigers, then broke an arm tackle. He was finally tripped up from behind at the Slaton 10.
Del Toro scored on a nine-yard run up the middle with 10:50 left in the second period. Martinez tacked on the extra point for a 10-7 Mule lead. The Mules had only needed three plays to travel 71 yards to take the lead for the first time.
Just over seven minutes later the Tigers were back in the Mule end zone to again claim the lead at 14-10 with fifteen and half minutes remaining in the game.
Slaton kicked off out of bounds, and the Mules called for the penalty. The Tigers had to kickoff from the Slaton 35-yard line. Y. Reyes returned the kick eight yards to the Mule 32.
The two teams exchanged punts, and the Mules began the final scoring drive at the Mule 22. Lozano carried wide left and slipped through the hand of a pair of tacklers for 13 yards. The Mules lost two yards on first down, and an incomplete pass left the Mules needing 12 yards on third down.
Del Toro took the snap and started right following Lozano. Lozano planted his foot in the turf and cut back left and to the handoff for a seven-yard gain on the counter play. Del Toro managed to tip a high snap to himself and started left. He faked a pitch to Lozano wide to the left and pulled the defense to him.
Del Toro then pushed the ball over the head of an oncoming Tiger to Lozano. Lozano scooted upfield to the for six yards and a first down. R. Reyes was held up on his route, and the Tigers were flagged for pass interference.
The penalty moved the Mules to the Slaton 39. Del Toro rolled to his left, but all his receivers were covered. He pulled down the ball and scrambled nine yards. Del Toro kept up the middle for the first down at the Slaton 28.
A holding penalty set the Mules back, but Lozano kept up the middle for 13 yards. Del Toro then tossed to R. Reyes for nine yards and a first down. Lozano capped off the drive with a 15-yard run behind the block by Rodriguez.
Martinez ended the Mules’ scoring like he had started it and booted the ball through the uprights.
The Mules rushed for 206 yards and passed for 35 more yards for a total offense of 241 yards.
Mikey Lozano led the Mule offense with 18 carries for 164 yards and one touchdown. He completed four passes four of six passes for 26 yards. Luke Del Toro rushed six times for 18 yards and one score. He completed one of four passes for nine yards. Ryan Rodriguez ran eight times for 24 yards.
The Mule defense gave up 178 rushing yards and 56 yards through the air for a total of 234 yards.
Isaac Mendoza paced the Mule defense with 20 tackles, one special teams’ tackle, three tackles for losses, three sacks, and made one big hit. Julian Astorga recorded 14 tackles, two tackles for losses, one sack, one quarterback hurry and caused two fumbles.
Jacob Kettner made 14 stops and one big hit. Mikey Lozano had 13 tackles, and Ean Hasley made 12 tackles and one quarterback hurry. Corbin Hardwick and Rudy Ruiz recovered a fumble each. Romeo Reyes intercepted one pass.
The Mules are 1-0 in district play and will host the 0-1 River Road Wildcats Friday night in Benny Douglas Stadium.

Rhea Gonzales


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