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In thriller, Marble Falls slips by Elgin 34-33

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    Quarterback Peter McFarlin readies to move the Wildcat offense. Photos by Ron Ramirez
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    The Elgin defense digs in from a Mustang attack.
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    The Purple Diamonds put on exciting performance at halftime.

The Mustangs (2-0) of Marble Falls made the long trek to Elgin (0-1) not for our famous hot sausage, but left full and happy nonetheless.

In a truly exciting game, Elgin’s first of the season, the two teams traded scores all night, and like every football game proves time and time again, turnovers, costly penalties and missed opportunities dictated the win or the loss.

I continue to be amazed by the differences COVID-19 has caused in the sporting world, in this case, high school sports. The changes were drastic. I looked in the home stands, and there were only a few fans spread out through the seats. Attendance was limited to two family and friends of players, band members, cheerleaders and drill team members. The entire visitor stands were empty of fans, with only the Elgin band and Purple Diamonds spread out over the entire length of the stands, masked and super social distanced. The visitors from Marble Falls took up the north end of the home stands, with only the Mustang cheerleaders allowed to make the trip to cheer for their team, no visiting band or dance team. And certainly, everyone on the sidelines to include coaches, reporters and visitors were masked the entire time.

And yet, the game started and football was back in play for the 'Cats. Elgin received the kickoff, and on only the second play, seconds into the game, senior all-purpose back Lyndon Rangel (#2) took a pitchout to the right and scooted and weaved his way through the Mustang defenders for an exhilarating 67-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed however, leaving the score 6-0 Elgin. The Wildcat defense forced a punt, however the Elgin quarterback was intercepted and the Mustangs took over deep in enemy territory, scoring a few minutes later, making the score 7-6 Marble Falls with five minutes left in the quarter.

Trying to catch the 'Cats sleeping, the Mustangs tried an on-sides kick, but Omari Williams (#44) smartly fell on the ball, giving Elgin excellent field position near midfield. Quarterback Peter McFarlin (#10) ran for 35 yards to get the team close, and finished the drive on a one-yard burst to score; the extra point was good, making the score 13-7. That finished the scoring for the quarter.

The Mustangs got the ball and proceeded on a long, punishing drive, taking up almost seven minutes of the quarter, and went into the end zone on a nice run, making the score 13-13, after the extra point was missed, leaving five minutes to go until halftime. Elgin’s Trey I’som (#8) made an exciting 45-yard return of the kickoff, setting up the 'Cats at midfield. Two minutes later, Rangel again showed why he is a budding star, taking a pitchout to the left and running 32 yards to paydirt. Unfortunately, the point after attempt was blocked, making the score 19-13 with just over two minutes left in the second quarter. After the Mustangs took control, the Wildcat defense forced a fumble and Braylon Owens (#42) recovered on the Marble Falls 45-yard line. Elgin took the ball down the field, finishing the drive on a nice nine-yard dash by McFarlin. The point after attempt was good, making the score 26-13 at halftime.

After a nice on-field performance by the Purple Diamonds, accompanied by the Wildcat Band from the visitor stands, the action started back up with the Mustangs going on another time-consuming long drive to score, leaving it 26-20 Elgin. Later in the period, the Mustangs once again fumbled. For some unknown reason, Marble Falls again tried an on-sides kick, which Elgin’s Al Rodriguez (#30) alertly recovered, giving the 'Cats nice field position near midfield again. Unfortunately, Elgin was not able to put a drive together, punting the ball back to their opponent. On the second play, the defense again forced a fumble, and lineback Owens again fell on the ball deep in Mustang territory, his second fumble recovery. Quarterback McFarlin guided the team down the field and scored his third touchdown of the game, running it in for 13 yards. The period ended with the score 33-20, Elgin.

The final period was all Marble Falls. Costly penalties took nice gains by Elgin off the board and kept the two Mustang scoring drives in play. The Mustangs scored midway through the quarter, leaving the score 33-27 Elgin. The last few minutes of the game also belonged to the visitors, as they once again went on a long time-consuming drive, finished by the winning touchdown and successful point after attempt, making the score 34-33, Marble Falls. Elgin received the ball with nearly two minutes left but the offense was unable to make any headway. Game over.

Lyndon Rangel finished the game with 10 rushes,115 yards and two touchdowns. Peter McFarlin had a great rushing game with 19 rushes,144 yards and three scores. The passing game was almost non-existent, with only two passes completed all night. On defense, Braylon Owens, Willie Simmons and Omari Williams had numerous tackles throughout the night.

Head Coach Jens Anderson was pleased with his players' efforts and felt they played a physical game, especially for the first contest of the year. He knows all three phases in the game need more work. Obviously passing and kicking are on that list. Anderson felt his rushing attack was a positive and he feels that even others will be added and effective during the next games. He felt the defensive line and linebackers were very solid throughout. The unique Slot T Mustang offense posed a challenge, and Anderson congratulated the Mustang’s coach for the team’s great start.

The Wildcat coaching staff is working hard on the upcoming East View game, where the Patriots are 0-2, but both losses were to good 6A schools. The Wildcats will travel to Georgetown on Friday evening, October 9 at 7 p.m. to take on the East View Patriots, which will be the first District 13-5A contest for both teams.