And the Mules just keep on rolling! Everyone traveled to Ratliff Stadium in Odessa Friday night in the mist and fog and cold to watch the Mules win the Region 1 championship game against the Eastland Mavericks. The game was anticipated to be an explosive offensive battle, which finally came in the second half, but started out with both sides’ defensive teams dominating the game.
The car thermometer registered 36 degrees when we entered the parking lot, but the fog was heavy and made it seem even colder. Thank goodness the wind wasn’t a factor, but as the game went on the glare of the lights against the fog had to affect the boys’ ability to see and hold onto the ball, especially when it was in the air on punts, kick-offs, and passes. Heck, by the end of the game, the stands on the other side were just a blur and the press box didn’t show up at all. It was even hard to follow some of the plays and read the players’ numbers on their uniforms. I looked up at one point to see what the boys would see when they looked up to catch a ball and saw billows of fog instead of clear air.
Fans showed up in good numbers for both teams for what turned out to be one of the Mules’ most exciting games this year. And I can’t guarantee the accuracy of all of my notes as I tell you about it- you should see my wrinkled, crumpled, wadded-up little notepad with the water-stained, ink-blurred, curled pages of information I am working with.
But I digress. The game started with the Eastland team running out onto the field displaying a school flag and a Texas flag, which to me was their way of saying they were headed to the state championship. That may not have been their intent at all, but I think it had a touch of psychological warfare to it. Didn’t work, though…
And since I am a bit late in getting this posted and everyone has probably read all about the game in the newspaper by now, and the fact that my notes, copious though they are, are a bit hard to read, as I mentioned earlier, I think I will give you the condensed version of the play-by-play. All most people care about is the final score anyway. So here goes-
The first quarter was all defense, until near the end when Eastland was awarded a safety after Mule quarterback Beau Avila was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, which made the score 0-2, Eastland.
In the second quarter the offenses had more of a showing, when Saul Elizalde scored two touchdowns, the most exciting being the 95-yard kickoff return for a TD. Eastland’s offense, however, had a better second quarter as well, and the score was tied at 15-all at the end of the first half.
The third quarter Muleshoe dominated the game and Isaac Baca scored twice, and the quarter ended with the score Mules 29-Eastland 22. This was the quarter when the referees made some questionable calls, at least the Muleshoe fans thought so, but the outcome of any game can’t be blamed on the refs, so we just had to step up and play even better.
Which, I guess we did in the fourth quarter, as the Baca brothers put Muleshoe ahead by two more touchdowns making the score now 42-22, with 2:41 left on the clock. But the game isn’t over till it’s over, and 2:41 is a lot of time to kill while celebrating on the sidelines and waving for the crowd to stand up and cheer, which most everyone was doing already. And it almost came back to bite the Mules in the butt, because that had to be the longest two minutes and forty-one seconds in the history of high school football, as Eastland wasn’t ready to concede defeat just yet and came back to make a touchdown and then recover not one, but two onside kicks, scoring on the first one, making the score 43-36 with 21 seconds left. Now it is just a little too close for comfort. But thanks to a false start on the second onside kick, which called for a do-over , which Avila was able to cover, we gained control of the ball, and the game was blessedly over.
The Mules will meet Melissa next Friday for the semi-final match-up in Sweetwater at the Mustang Bowl at 7 pm.