Mules vs. Slaton (10-7-2016)
The Road to Oz may have been the 2016 Homecoming theme, but the Mules not only found the Yellow Brick Road made famous by the Wizard of Oz, but they kept the Slaton Tigers confined to the barrow ditches along that road most of the evening.
The Mules only allowed the Tigers one first down in the opening quarter and that came on the Tigers initial drive. The Tigers did have much of an opportunity to move the ball after that.
The statistics and score board both are good indicators of how the Mules dominated the game. The Mules celebrated the 2016 Homecoming with a 63-20 win over Slaton to join Littlefield and River Road atop the heap in District 2-3A Division I.
Beto Diaz connected on 22 of 26 passing attempts for 374 yards and threw six touchdown passes to five different Mule receivers. The Mules rushed for 244 yards and three more touchdowns. Arturo Contreras was a perfect nine-for-nine on PAT kicks.
What may be more impressive is that the Mule defense allowed the Tigers only 78 yards and one score through the air and 178 yards and two TDs on the ground. Desreal Williams, the Tiger’s quarterback ran for two of Slaton’s scores and passed for one.
Slaton chose to receive the opening kickoff and the Tigers first drive started on the Slaton 33. George Wright seemed to get Slaton off on the right foot with an eight-yard gain wide to the left. Williams then scrambled for eight yards on an option for the Tigers only first down of the first period.
The Mule defense kicked in after that with Donovan Gutierrez and Moises Vasquez bringing down Williams after a three-yard pickup. Isaac Mendoza shed a block to chase down Wright for no gain. A throw-back screen pass did not fool the Mules and resulted in no gain to force the Tigers to punt for the first time.
The Mules allowed the Tiger punt to roll dead at the Mule 38-yard line. With three Mule receivers set wide to the left side, Diaz picked Javy Perez running a slant to the inside for the pass. Perez ran by one defender and over a second for a 15-yard gain to the Slaton 47.
Tre Villa took a pitch wide right for nine yards on first down. Fidel Mendoza pulled and made a key block on the play. The gained the first down with a two-yard dive by Villa.
A procedure penalty cost the Mules five yards on first down but a screen pass to Jason Florez got the five yards back. The Mules changed their offensive look and went to a two- tight end set.
Romeo Reyes ran by one defender from his wide-receiver position and Diaz dropped the ball in his hands at the Slaton five-yard line. R. Reyes scooted into the end zone for the Mules first touchdown. The Mules led 7-0 with 7:18 left in the first period.
Michael Lozano squibbed kicked the ball down the middle of the field to the Tiger 20. The return man headed back up field until Yoel Reyes came flying in from the side to take out his running gear.
Mario “Boo” Flores stopped the Tiger screen pass after a five-yard gain. A running play only resulted in two yards when the Mule defense swarmed the ball carrier. R. Reyes went up and over a deep receiver to break up a pass. The Slaton punt was returned to the Mule 36-yard line by Florez.
Florez and Boo Flores blocked in front of Y. Reyes on a screen pass that was good for 10 yards to Mule 46. The Mules then sent three receivers wide to the left side with Florez lined up as the inside receiver.
Florez ran by two defenders and was downfield 20 yards when Diaz launched the pass. Florez continued to run, found the ball and made the necessary adjustments to receive the pass at the Slaton 21.
Florez was five yards behind the nearest defender and raced untouched to the end zone. The two-play drive had covered 64 yards and consumed only 17 seconds off the clock. The Mules led 14-0 with just over five minutes left in the first period.
The Tigers returned Lozano’s kick 14 yards to the Slaton 44. The Tigers gained four yards on first down but then hit a wall. Dagen Dunham forced Williams inside where Fidel Mendoza and Boo Flores dropped him for no gain.
Dunham fought his way through two blocks on the subsequent play to pursue Williams as he gave ground while rolling left. Williams reversed his field but Dominik Hasley, F. Mendoza and Boo Flores were waiting for him. The sack cost the Tigers six yards on third down and forced Slaton to punt for the third time in the opening period.
The Mules allowed the ball to roll dead on the Mule 16. Lozano blasted up the middle for five yards on first down. Diaz faked the handoff to Lozano on second down and hit Dunham running a hot route over the middle. Dunham already had his long legs churning and went 43 yards to the Slaton 36 before the Tigers could bring him down.
Diaz tossed left to Lozano running out of the backfield. Y. Reyes made a block to allow Lozano room to run and he gained 18 yards. A wide-receiver screen went to Y. Reyes. Dunham, Florez and F. Mendoza were downfield opening the yellow brick road to the end zone. The Mules went up 21-0 with 2:10 still left in the opening period.
Slaton returned Lozano’s kickoff to the Tiger 43 where Lozano made the stop. After an incomplete pass, Boo Flores must have read the Tiger’s mail. Because on second down he made the stop at the line of scrimmage. The next play he had dropped back in pass coverage and leaped high in the air to pick off William’s pass at the Mule 42 and returned to the Tiger 48.
The Mules ran three plays before the first period ended with the Mules knocking on the door for the fourth time.
Diaz pitched wide right to Villa and he went 10 yards to the Tiger 16. Villa then battled for four yards on first down. Diaz first incomplete pass of the game was followed by a screen pass to Florez. Y. Reyes opened a path for Florez to the seven-yard line where his was hit by two tacklers. Florez dragged the Tigers to the two before going down.
Diaz threw the ball high in the end zone where only 6-4, Dunham, could reach it. The two-yard touchdown came with over ten minutes left in the half. The Mule led 28-0.
Williams finally scored for the Tigers on a five-yard run but his PAT kick was no good. The Mules led 28-6 with 5:26 left in the half.
It only took the Mules 1:18 seconds to answer after the kickoff. Villa capped the 55-yard Mule drive with a 29-yard run. The Mules had increased their lead to 35-6.
The two teams traded touchdowns before the intermission with Williams connecting on a 38-yard strike to Kevondrick Gober. Williams ran for the two-point conversion to trim the Mule lead to 35-14.
Lozano scooted 12 yards for the Mules final tally of the half with 23 seconds left on the clock. The Mules had traveled 67 yards on two plays to lead 42-14 at the half.
The third period saw more of the same from the Mules with Diaz throwing a 44-yard touchdown to Florez. That was his second TD of the game and the Mules led 49-14.
I. Mendoza stepped in front of a Williams pass for and interception with five minutes left in the third period. The quick-scoring Mules slowed the pace and used 2:38 seconds to complete a 68-yard five-play scoring drive. Diaz hit Boo Flores with a swing pass for the final four yards. The Mules led 56-14 at the quarter break.
The Mules took over on downs 77 yards from pay dirt with just under eight minutes left in the game. Lozano had taken over the helm for the Mules and engineered the drive to the Slaton one-yard line. Brady Martinez blasted in on a one-yard dive to end the Mules scoring.
Williams got loose for a 42-yard run with one minute still on the clock. His PAT kick was off the mark.
Boo Flores led the Mule defense with 16 tackles, one quarterback hurry and an interception. Donovan Gutierrez had a good night with nine tackles, one being for a loss and two quarterback hurries. Ean Hasley finished with eight tackles and a special teams tackle.
Dominik Hasley had six stops and one sack. Fidel Mendoza made five tackles and one sack. Isaac Mendoza had three tackles, made a big hit, hurried the quarterback once and intercepted a pass. Romeo Reyes led the special teams with three tackles.
Jason Florez led the Mules in reception with seven catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Romeo Reyes made five receptions for 73 yards and scored a TD. Dagen Dunham caught two passes for 44 yards and one touchdown.
Yoel Reyes snagged two passes for 28 yards and one touchdown. Boo Flores just caught one pass for four yards and one touchdown.
The Mules will hit the road to Amarillo’s River Road to take on the 1-0 Wildcats Friday night at 7:30 PM.