Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mules vs. Littlefield (11-7-2014)

Mules vs. Littlefield (11-7-2014)

When the Mules and Wildcats of Littlefield play football it is known as the ‘War on 84’. The 2014 chapter of the on going saga certainly lived up to all the hype that surrounded the game during the week prior to Friday night.

The District 1-3A Division I Championship was on the line as well as the number one seed for the Texas State Playoffs.

There were seven lead changes during the 48 minute contest with the final one coming with just 24 seconds left on the clock in Wildcat Stadium. Littlefield had scored with eight minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the game to take a 27-26 lead over the Mules. The Wildcats’ 2-point conversion attempt failed when the Mules stopped replacement slot back, Shawn Cristian, inches short of the goal line.

The Mules used 10 plays to march from the Mule 28 to the Littlefield 32 burning time off the clock following the Wildcat kickoff. The handoff from Mule quarterback, Keagan Gonzales, to running back, Josh Lopez, went awry and the ball was on the turf. Several players attempted to cover the loose ball before a Wildcat managed to scoop it from the turf and reached the Mule 45-yard line before being tackled.

You could have almost heard a pin drop in the visitors’ stands while the home Wildcat stands were exploding. But the jubilation was short lived for Littlefield as the Wildcats’ quarterback, Bryson Calloway, and tailback, Dontra Ewing, fumbled the handoff on first down. Saul Sanchez was there to claim it for the Mules at the Littlefield 46.

The Mules resumed their drive with about two minutes left in the game. Gonzales picked up a first down on a 14-yard run up the middle to the Wildcat 29. Misfortune again seemed to visit the Mules as they only gained one yard on three plays.

Needing nine yards on fourth down Jason Florez raced down field for 10 yards and cut to the Mule sideline. Gonzales zipped him the ball just before Florez stepped out of bounds at the Littlefield 18.

Chamel Regalado lined up immediately behind the Mules’ left tackle. Normally a sniffer-back is used for a blocker but this time Regalado ran a pass route straight down field. Gonzales faked a handoff to Lopez to freeze the linebackers and Regalado broke in the open at the Wildcat 10 to make a one-handed grab of  Gonzales’ pass. He drove forward to the one-yard line before being tackled.

Gonzales took the deep snap with time running down, side stepped a blitzing linebacker and found a hole the left side of the Mule line had opened in the Wildcat defense. He flashed through the opening to score with 24 seconds left in the game.

Gonzales is the holder on the extra-point kicks but the Mules ran a fake and Gonzales ran the ball in the end zone for the two-point conversion to secure the 34-27 win for the Mules.

The excitement did not end there because the Mules still had to kickoff and the Wildcats had 24 seconds for their offense.

Felipe Guerrero kicked the ball high to the Wildcat 30. The return man caught the ball, turned and pitched the ball back to Ewing, a speedster moving to Littlefield from Dimmitt a year ago. Ewing raced straight ahead to the Littlefield 39.

The Mules were called for pass interference on first down and the 15-yard penalty advanced the Wildcats to the Mule 49. Two incomplete pass left nine seconds on the clock with the Wildcats stranded at midfield.

Ewing took the handoff on a reverse that appeared to be going deep in Mule territory but the Mules managed to turn him back inside and made the stop at the Mule 35 with one tick still on the clock.

Calloway rolled wide toward the Littlefield sideline and launched a Hail Mary pass to the end zone. Regalado leaped high in the air and batted the ball to the turf to dash all hopes of a miracle win by the Wildcats.

“I have never been a part of a game where the excitement was so intense,” said Mule coach David Wood. “The stands seemed to crackle with electricity on both sides of the field.”

“There were a lot of highs and lows during the game. Probably the biggest let down was when we fumbled late in the fourth quarter but we were back on top of the world in just one play when Littlefield fumbled back to us.”

“Fortunately we were able to go on down and score to go ahead. Then our defense managed to keep them from scoring. Winning a district championship is always a big accomplishment for a team.”

“Now we must put all of this behind us and start getting ready for an improved Kermit team.”

The Mules had scored first after halting the Wildcats and forcing a punt. Gonzales capped a 10-play 91-yard drive by the Mules with a one-yard run to put the Mules in front 6-0 with 3:01 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats answered quickly with Ewing scoring on a 61-yard run to give Littlefield a 7-6 Wildcat advantage with 2:09 on the clock in the first quarter.

Things were happening quickly as the Mules needed only three plays to go 70 yards. Florez was the outside receiver and appeared to ready to block the corner back when he broke down field. Regalado had run a crossing route that drew the defense to him.

Florez then flew down the sideline and Gonzales delivered him the ball at the Littlefield 41. Florez was 10 yards from the nearest defender when he made the catch and out raced the defense to the end zone. Guerrero added the extra point to put the Mules in front 13-7 with 48 seconds left in the opening period.

Littlefield scored twice in the second quarter. Da’Madrick Moore, a four -year premier running back for the Wildcats scored on a 60-yard run. Calloway went 36 yards to end the first half with Littlefield leading 21-13.

The Mules came back strong in the second half with Josh Lopez capping a seven-play 54-yard drive with a seven-yard run. The touchdown cut the Wildcat lead to 21-19 with 9:05 left in the third period.

Lopez was back in the end zone for the Mules with 11:41 remaining in the game with a 17-yard run. The three-play 50-yard drive put the Mules on top 26-21.

Littlefield’s final touchdown was on a seven-yard run by Ewing to cap a 58-yard seven play drive to put Littlefield on top for the final time 27-26.

“It was all about team for us tonight,” said Keagan Gonzales. “Everyone on the team contributed to this win.”

A Wildcat was heard to say after the game, “This was the most exciting and fun game I have ever played. It is also the most disappointed I have ever been after a game.”

The Mules amassed a total of 483 yards of offense. They rushed for 315 yards and passed for 168. Keagan Gonzales carried 26 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 10 of 15 passing attempts for 168 yards, one touchdown and threw one interception.

Josh Lopez rushed 24 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Jason Florez carried once for four yards and made four receptions for 88 yards and one TD. Chamel Regalado made two catches for 52 yards and Saul Sanchez made two receptions for 18 yards.

The Mule defense gave up a total 331 yards to Littlefield with 308 being on the ground and 23 through the air on one reception. Ewing carried 20 times for 157 yards and Moore rushed 12 times for 109 yards.

The Mules held Littlefield to just 86-yards of offense in the second half and one touchdown.

Javy Perez led the Mule defense with 13 tackles. Dominik Hasley made 11 tackles, one quarterback hurry, caused a fumble, three special teams tackles and made a big hit. Roman Franco also had 11 tackles with two being on special teams. Ryder White made 10 tackles and one quarterback hurry.

Braden Bessire had eight stops, one for a loss and one quarterback hurry. Dagen Dunham made seven tackles, two quarterback hurries and a big hit. Issac Acosta also had seven tackles with one being on special teams. Saul Sanchez both caused and recovered a fumble. James Lutz recovered a fumble. 

Littlefield (6-4, 4-1) will play the (7-3, 3-2) Denver City Mustangs for a second time this season in Frenship’s Tiger Stadium at 7:00 PM Saturday night.

The (7-3, 5-0) Mules will host the (3-7, 2-3) Kermit Yellow Jackets Friday night at 7:00 PM in Frenship’s Tiger Stadium.     

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