By Delton Wilhite
The Shallowater Mustangs had claimed at least a share of the District 1-3A Championship the previous week. The Mules were sitting second in the district race. If the Mules knocked off the Mustangs, they would claim a share of the district title as well as the gold ball.
The Mules were the host team and gave Shallowater all they could handle in the opening period.
“We had our chances tonight,” said Mule coach, David Wood. “If we had scored in the first quarter when we had our first opportunity, that could have changed the outcome of the game.”
“But it just did not seem to be our night. The good news is that we are still in second place in the district and are headed to the playoffs where anything can happen.”
After the opening period, the Mustangs scored three times in the second quarter to lead the Mules 21-0 at the intermission. Shallowater added one touchdown in each of the final two periods to shutout the Mules 35-0.
Romeo Reyes returned the opening kickoff up the Shallowater sideline to the Mule 33-yard line.
Mikey Lozano faked the handoff to Ryan Rodriguez, rolled two steps to his right and fired a strike to Matthew Alarcon for nine yards. Luke Del Toro took over the help and kept the ball for two yards and a first down at the Mule 44.
Rodriguez gained six yards off left tackle on second down before the Mule offense stalled. Rodriguez punt rolled dead on the Shallowater 20.
Shallowater ran a screen pass to the Shallowater side of the field. Isaac Mendoza caught the receiver from behind and punched the ball out of his hands from behind. The ball bound down the field before Lozano scooped it up at the Shallowater 46.
Lozano gave ground to the Mule 44 where R. Reyes made a block to allow Lozano to turn up the field to the Shallowater 31.
Del Toro’s pass was picked off the Shallowater three-yard line. Brady Martinez made the tackle at the Shallowater 25, and a personal foul penalty backed the Mustangs up to the Shallowater 12.
Corbin Hardwick made the tackle on first down after a one-yard gain. The Mustangs gained a first down with an 11-yard run. Carlo Meza contained the wide receiver around for a three-yard gain.
A holding penalty on second down set the Mustangs back to the Shallowater 20. Meza contained the quarterback and forced him to turn back inside. Mendoza caught the quarterback from behind to set up third down and 12 yards needed by the Mustangs.
Lozano made the stop on third down a yard short of a first at the Mustang 31. The Shallowater quarterback decided to keep the ball. Lozano, Yoel Reyes, and Meza met him at the line of scrimmage and held him short of a first down.
The Mules took over on downs at the Shallowater 32. Del Toro rolled to his right and fired a strike to Martinez at the Shallowater 17. Martinez powered ahead and reached the Mustang nine before going down.
The Mules could get no closer than the Shallowater six-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
The Mustangs had reached the Mule 13 by the time the first period ended. The Mustangs scored on a four-yard run with 11:26 remaining in the first half. Shallowater led 7-0.
Shallowater scored their second touchdown on a 46-yard run with 7:50 remaining in the second period. The final tally of the first half came on a one-yard run with just over three minutes left until intermission.
Shallowater added a touchdown in both the third and fourth periods for the win.
Ryan Rodriguez rushed 16 times for 53 yards, and Mikey Lozano carried eight times for 21 yards. Luke Del Toro completed seven of 19 passes for 84 yards. Brady Martinez made three receptions for 35 yards, and Matthew Alarcon made two catches for 27 yards.
Isaac Mendoza led the Mule defense with 20 tackles, with one being for a loss, and caused a fumble. Corbin Hardwick made 10 tackles. Julian Astorga had nine tackles. Mikey Lozano had seven tackles, broke up a pass, and recovered a fumble.
“All the teams in the playoffs are even with records of 0-0,” continued Coach Wood. “The intensity picks up in the playoffs, and you could feel the excitement in today’s (Monday) workout. We know things must be right for us to advance and we are working to make it so.”
The 4-6 Mules will travel to Denver City Friday evening to play the 4-6 Crane Golden Cranes for Bi-District. The Mules are the home team and fans will sit on the west side of the stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.