By Delton Wilhite
The Mules chased the Friona Chieftains for most of the first 42 minutes of the football game Friday night. The Chiefs were undefeated on the season at 7-0, and the Mules were unbeaten in district play with a record of 2-0.
“Muleshoe and Friona have played so many times now,” said Mules’ head coach, David Wood. “They have now started calling this game ‘The War on 214’. We have been playing in ‘The War on 84’ for several years. I guess I will take every war we can get into.”
“Tonight lived up to the name. I was not sure we could get back into the fray when we fell behind by 14 points twice in the first half. It was a race to the finish line. Our defense made that goal line stand at the one and then we drove the field for the score. That was the turning point in the game.”
Friona had led the Mules by 14 points twice during the first half, but the Mules had cut the deficit to 34-27 by the halftime intermission. The Mules only needed two plays in the second half to tie the game at 34-34.
That was the second of four ties that occurred during the contest. The Mules had tied the game at 14-14 early in the second period. The Mules were playing catch up late in the third period, when Magic Mikey Lozano broke loose for a 15-yard-touchdown run. Brady Martinez booted the point after to again tie the game at 41-41.
Lozano finally puts the Mules ahead 48-41 on a one-yard dive with 6:42 left in the game. Friona tied the game at 48-48 for the final time with just over four minutes left in the game.
The Chiefs kicked off to the Mule end zone, and the Mules started their final scoring drive at the Mule 25.
Luke Del Toro rolled left and tossed to Isaac Mendoza running a down-and-out pattern. Mendoza laid out to make the catch for a first down at the Friona 37. Lozano took the handoff and went up the middle for 10 yards.
Del Toro checked out of the play that was called because of how the defense had lined up. Del Toro kept on an option play for eight yards to the Friona 46. The Mules put two sniffer backs to the right side, and Lozano followed his blockers for 15 yards.
The Mules used the same offensive set, and Lozano started right. He found a crease in the Friona defense and cut back against the grain for 11 yards to the Chief 15. The Mules faked the wide receiver sweep, and Lozano kept the ball.
Leonel Camarena blocked the defensive tackle to the inside and Lozano ran outside the block. Lozano got turned around with his back to the end zone at the five-yard line. Ryan Rodriguez and Mendoza provided the extra push to help Lozano into the Friona end zone for a 12-yard touchdown run.
Brady Martinez tacked on the extra point for the 55-48 win with just 25 seconds left in the game.
Friona ran four plays in the final 25 seconds but could not advance the ball.
The Mules had tied the game at 41-41 with five minutes remaining in the third period. Following the Mule kickoff, the Chiefs drove to the Mule 10-yard line when the final quarter began. It was second down and goal to go.
Friona went straight ahead for six yards. The Mules made the stop at the two on third down. The quarterback pulled the ball from the belly of the Chiefs big running back, and Mendoza made the tackle at the one-yard line on fourth down.
Lozano kept up the middle for 11 yards. Yoel Reyes took the handoff from Lozano for five yards to the Mule 20. Lozano carried on a student body sweep around the right end for ten yards.
Lozano carried for five yards on first down and was tackled by his facemask. The 15-yard penalty advanced the Mules to midfield. Del Toro rolled left, stopped, and saw Y. Reyes coming open at the Friona 30.
Y. Reyes leaped high in the air, broke a tackle reaches the Friona 18 for a 23-yard gain. Rodriguez blasted up the middle for 13 yards before Del Toro kept wide right for six yards.
Lozano scored from the five-yard line, but the Mules were flagged for holding. Lozano started wide left before cutting back to the middle of the field for a 14-yard gain and a first down at the Friona one.
Rodriguez led Lozano to the promised land and gave the Mules their first lead of the night at 48-41 with 6:42 left in the game.
The Mule rolled up a total of 488 yards of offense by rushing for 312 yards and passing for 176. Lozano led the Mules with 28 carries for 208 yards and six touchdowns. He completed four of eight passes for 35 yards and one touchdown.
Del Toro rushed four times for 11 yards and completed seven of 19 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown. Rodriguez carried 12 times for 68 yards and Y. Reyes carried twice for 25 yards.
Y. Reyes caught five passes for 85 yards and one touchdown. Romeo Reyes made two catches for 38 yards. Mendoza had three receptions for 30 yards. Martinez made one catch for 15 yards and one touchdown.
Friona rolled up 403 yards with 281 being on the ground and 122 passing.
Mendoza led the Mule defense with 22 tackles, two tackles for losses, broke up a pass and made two special teams tackles. Corbin Hardwick made 20 tackles, two being for losses, and made two sacks.
Lozano had 16 tackles. Carlos Meza made 14 tackles, two for losses, one quarterback hurry, blocked an extra point attempt, and caused a fumble. Leonel Camarena finished with nine tackles, one for a loss, one sack, and had three quarterback hurries. Julian Astorga recorded eight tackles, two quarterback hurries, caused one fumble, and recovered one fumble.
Matthew Alarcon made three special teams tackles and Y. Reyes broke up three passes. Camarena, Meza, and Ean Hasley each caused a fumble. Astorga, Martinez, and Y. Reyes each recovered a fumble.
The Mules are on the road again Friday night. They will put their 4-0 district record up against the 0-4 Littlefield Wildcats in Wildcat Stadium Friday night.