Mules vs. Breckenridge for Area (11-18-2016)
Mules’ coach, David Wood, referred to the game as the rubber match in a pre-game interview. Friday night was the third time in three years that the Muleshoe Mules and Breckenridge Buckaroos had met in the Area Round of the Texas State Football Playoffs.
The Mules had lost to Breckenridge 28-7 in 2014, but the Mules returned in 2015 for a 31-20 victory. The Mules had to battle back from a 21-7 halftime deficit Friday night to win the latest version of Mules vs. Bucks 47-35.
“It was deja vu from last year,” said Coach Wood following the game. “The difference is that this year we did not go into halftime with the momentum. We were down 21-7 again at the half, just like last year, but this time we were on a drive, and it was snuffed out there at the end.”
“Without the momentum, we knew adjustments needed to be made. So we just laid it out on the table, and the kids responded and came out on fire like I have never seen a team do before. That was the most remarkable third quarter I have ever been a part of on both sides of the football.”
“It is one thing for a defense to make stops but it is another thing then to have your offense go score, score, score. The kids deserve all the credit. They have worked so hard this and going on to the Regional Round again.”
“We are getting the opportunity of a lifetime to play the defending Texas State Champion team from Brock. The kids are very excited about that, but we will enjoy this win tonight.”
The Mules trailed 14-0 with 9:49 left in the first half. Breckenridge kicked off, and Jason Florez returned to the Mule 32. The Mules scored on the second play of the ensuing drive.
Beto Diaz tossed a screen pass to Florez spread to the left side. Yoel Reyes chopped the cornerback, and Mario Flores sealed off the outside linebacker to open the door for Florez.
He accelerated by three would-be tacklers. Donovan Gutierrez scurried downfield to make the final block to allow Florez to score. It was a 64-yard catch and run. Arturo Contreras booted the extra point, and the Mules had cut the deficit to 14-7 with 8:25 remaining in the first half.
“We started off slow in the first half,” said Mule receiver, Jason Florez. “Some of the players said some things at halftime and our coaches came up with a great game plan. We came out and executed that plan and never let down in the second half.”
“We played as a team and gave it all our hearts tonight. We are just going to keep playing hard and give it our all in each game.”
The Bucks were not finished and pounded the ball downfield on 13 plays that covered 49 yards and ate up almost six minutes. PAT kick gave the Bucks a 21-7 advantage at the intermission.
But the revitalized Mules reappeared after the break and Florez returned the opening kick 14 yards to the Mule 31-yard line. Diaz kept the football on three consecutive downs and advanced the Mules 18 yards to the Mule 49.
Florez gave his defender a head fake and scooted by his defender while running a post pattern. He stretched to the max to make the catch at the Buck 30. The defender almost caught up to Florez, but he extended his left arm to hold him off.
The defender grabbed the stiff arm and attempted to drag him down. Florez slipped out of the grasp to finish the 51-yard touchdown play with 10:57 left in the third period. Contreras kick was good, and the Mules had trimmed the Buck lead to 21-14.
Lozano kicked off, and the ball took a tricky hop at the Buck 28 and was finally picked up at the 23. Tre Villa made the stop on the return at the Mule 44-yard line. A penalty scooted the Bucks back to their 19-yard line.
The Mules shut down the powerhouse running attack of the Bucks and forced a punt on fourth down. The ball rolled dead on the Mule 30.
Diaz started left on first down and allowed a blocked Buck to hit the turf before making the pitch wide to Lozano. Flores laid down a block that allowed Lozano to cut to the inside and made a man miss. Florez made a block downfield, and Lozano scooted upfield for an 18-yard gain to the Buck 48.
The Mules used some trickery on fourth down, and Dagen Dunham took a direct snap from center while Diaz and the receivers appeared to look to the sideline for a call from their coach.
The defense seemed to relax with part of the team looking to the sideline and Dunham followed the left side of the Mule line for five yards and a first down at the Buck 35.
Diaz hit Yoel Reyes as he was running the fade at the eight-yard line. Y. Reyes turned 270 degrees to make the catch at and finished his 360-degree spin as he fell in the end zone. The PAT kick was off the mark, and the Mules still trailed the Bucks 21-20.
Lozano booted the ensuing kickoff high in the air, and a Buck raced to make the catch. The Buck went to one knee in his efforts, but the ball slid through his hands and rolled away. Brady Martinez recovered the miscue for the Mules at the Breckenridge 38.
Javy Perez went in motion from his running back position. Diaz rolled right and drew the defensive end before making the pitch to Perez. Cesar Olvera sealed off the path as Perez raced by one tackler but a second pushed him out of bounds at the one-yard line.
Dunham went under center, took the direct snap, and found a crease to end zone. Contreras kick was good, and the Mules took the lead for good with 5:48 left in the third quarter.
Lozano kicked off to the Buck 24 and Ean Hasley and Martinez chased the ball carrier back to the Breckenridge 20 before making the tackle.
Fidel Mendoza wrapped up the Buck ball carrier like a Christmas package on first down. Dominik Hasley shot the gap as the Mules smothered the dive on second down. An incomplete pass forced the Bucks to punt fourth down.
The Buck punt was short and rolled out of bounds at the Mule 47-yard line. The Mules needed eight plays to cover the 53 yards to pay dirt. Diaz kept up the middle for the final 24 yards to give the Mules a 33-21 lead with 1:46 remaining in the third period.
The Bucks decided to fair catch Lozano’s kickoff at the Buck 33. The Mules collapsed the middle of the Buck offensive line for a stop for no gain. Flores and Isaac Mendoza teamed up to blast the intended Buck receiver as he came down with the ball. The shock of the hit by the Mules jarred the ball from the receiver’s hands.
Dunham sacked the Breckenridge quarterback for an eight-yard loss on third down. The Buck punt bounced out of bounds at the Buck 43.
Lozano gained eight yards on a pitch behind a block by Romeo Reyes. Diaz then tossed the ball to R. Reyes, and he laid out for the catch at the Breckenridge one-yard line. Lozano got the nod for the one-yard run for a touchdown on the first play of the final period. The kick was good, and the Mules increased the lead to 40-21 with 11:54 remaining in the game.
Breckenridge tried to get back in the match with a 37-yard touchdown, but the Mules answered with Diaz scampering 14 yards for his second touchdown of the evening to keep the Mules up 47-28.
The Bucks had one last gasp with a 32-yard touchdown run for the final points of the game.
Isaac Mendoza picked off a Breckenridge pass to dash all Buck hopes of a last-minute comeback.
The Mules finished the night with a total of 518 yards with 255 yards being through the air and 263 yards on the ground.
Diaz rushed 25 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He passed for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Lozano rushed eight times for 47 yards and one touchdown and caught two passes for 18 yards. Javy Perez carried three times for 41 yards. Dagen Dunham rushed twice for six yards and one touchdown.
Jason Florez caught six passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Romeo Reyes made two receptions for 43 yards, and Yoel Reyes had one catch for 35 yards and one touchdown.
Donovan Gutierrez led the Mule defense with 21 tackles and caused or recovered a fumble. Mario Flores had 20 tackles and broke up a pass. Dagen Dunham made 16 tackles, one being for a loss, and made one sack. Javy Perez had 15 tackles, Moises Vasquez made eight tackles, and Isaac Mendoza had seven tackles, broke up a pass, caused or recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.
The Mules will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday with their families before traveling to Vernon on Friday. The Mules will host the Brock Eagles in Lion Stadium on Leon Brittain Field at 7:00 PM CST.