Mules vs. Levelland (8-28-2015)
The Mules arrived at the newly finished Levelland Lobo Stadium having read the regional newspaper with every sports writer picking the Lobos to win. The returning Lobo quarterback’s picture was on the front page of various preseason football publications.
But the Mules had other plans for Friday night that did not include showcasing the Lobos in the new facilities. The Mule defense served notice early that they had come to play and the Mule offense fed off the aggressiveness of the defense.
The Mules only trailed for two plays during the 48-minute game. Levelland returned a fumble 70-yards for a touchdown. The Swinging Gate play added the two-point conversion and the Lobos led the Mules 8-7 with 2:48 remaining in the first period.
Just 29 seconds, enough time for a kickoff and two plays, the Mules scored with a 71-yard pass and run from Danny Campos to Jason Florez. That combination worked twice more to spur the Mules to a 43-15 win.
Levelland took the opening kick from the Lobo 40 to the Mule six in 10 plays that included a 25-yard pass for a first down on fourth down. That is where the Mule defense got stingy. Dagen Dunham batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on first down.
Nick Gerber, the Lobo quarterback, was pursued by Dunham, Cameron Hardwick and Mario Flores on second down and tossed the ball out of bounds. Tony Vasquez got his hand in front of the Lobo receiver in the end zone on third down and ripped the ball away. Dunham launched his 6-4 frame and knocked the ball down at the line of scrimmage.
The Mules took over on downs. The Mules appeared to be headed for three-and-out but an illegal substitution gave the Mules new life on fourth down. A special pass play sent a pass to Flores for a 29-yard gain.
Campos put his foot down on the Mules’ NASCAR offense and they raced quickly to the line and snapped the ball. Josh Lopez bounced off two would be tacklers for 14 yards. The Mules stayed with the hurry-up offense and Campos kept the ball for 10 yards.
Tony Castillo lined up as the lone receiver on the right side of the formation. He ran by his defender and Campos dropped the ball in his hands at the Lobo five-yard line.
Castillo slipped away from his defender a second time and was in the end zone for a 27-yard passing touchdown. Felipe Guerrero’s point after kick was good and the Mules led 7-0 with 5:50 left in the first period.
Following the Mule kickoff the Lobos could not get on track and were forced to punt. The Mules were marching down the field when Florez made the catch on a wide-receiver screen. He was stripped of the ball. Tandon Jones scooped up the loose ball and raced 70 yards for the Lobo’s first tally. The two-point conversion gave the Lobos a short-lived lead.
Two plays later the Mules were back on top to stay with the Florez 71-yard reception.
Levelland only had the ball for two plays following the Mule kickoff. Dillon Miller brought the pressure and hit Gerber just as he threw an incomplete pass. The memory of Miller’s hit may have been on Gerber’s mind as he let the pass fly on second down.
Aaryn Ross stepped in front of the intended receiver for the interception. Ross made the catch at the Mule 40 and returned 20 yards to the Levelland 40.
Campos escaped the Lobo blitz and slid to his left before firing a strike to Tre Villa at the Lobo five. A Lobo defender managed to get a hand on Campos pass to the end zone but Dunham made the adjustment and caught the wobbly pass.
Guerrero booted the point after to increase the Mules’ lead to 21-7.
The Campos-Florez connection added a 15-yard TD pass just after the second period began. The scoring toss capped off an eight-play 48-yard drive. Campos tossed to Lopez for the two-point conversion that gave the Mules a 28-8 lead.
Ross second interception gave the Mules the ball on the Mule 26. Campos and Florez hooked up for the third time with a one-play 74 yard touchdown pass and run. Guerrero’s kick was good for a 36-8 Mule lead with 4:41 left in the first half.
The Lobos’ only offensive score came on a 24-yard scoring strike from Gerber to Jones with just over three and half minutes left in the half. The Mules led 36-15 at the intermission.
The only score of the second half came after heavy down pour during and after the break. Campos scored on a two-yard run to complete a nine-play 59-yard drive. Guerrero’s kick was good.
The Mules rolled up a total yardage of 619 yards with 365 being through the air and 254 rushing. Campos connected on 19 of 31 attempts with seven receivers for five touchdowns and ran for another. He also passed for a two-point conversion and ran for another.
Florez had six receptions for 173 yards and three TDs. Flores made two catches for 57 yards, Villa had three receptions for 37 yards and Ross had two catches for 37 yards. Castillo made a pair of catches for 48 yards and one touchdown. Dunham made two catches for 10 yards and one score. Lopez made one catch for three yards.
Lopez rushed 15 times for 78 yards, Evan Paez carried four times for 73 yards and Campos rushed nine times for 57 yards.
The Mule defense held Levelland to 41 yards rushing and 267 yards passing for a total of 308 yards. The Mules recovered two fumbles and intercepted four passes.
Paez led the Mules with eight tackles with three being on special teams and Javy Perez made seven. Jose Mendoza had six tackles with one being for a loss, one sack, broke up four passes and caused or recovered a fumble.
Castillo made six tackles, broke up a pass and caused or recovered a fumble. Hardwick also had six tackles, two for losses, one sack, a big hit and four quarterback hurries. Flores made five stops, had one sack, two quarterback hurries and caused or recovered a fumble. Ross also made five tackles and intercepted two passes.
Vasquez had four tackles, broke up two passes, caused or recovered a fumble and intercepted two passes. Matt Flores and Bryce Mauricio made three special teams tackles each.
The Mules schedule gets no easier in week two when they make the long trip to Sweetwater to battle the highly ranked class 4A Mustangs. Game time is 7:30 PM in Mustang Bowl.