Mustangs overcome early deficit against McCollum
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Jefferson, McCollum.
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When District 28-5A coaches and area fans talk about teams with killer speed, they’re generally referring to Brackenridge and Sam Houston.
Jefferson proved Friday at Harlandale Memorial Stadium that it has game-breaking speed, too. More than the get-away quickness flashed by Eric and Jesse Flores – as well as A’Marion Carter – the lasting impression formed by the Mustangs (2-5, 2-3) was just how fast they turned a close game into a decisive 41-14 victory over McCollum (1-5, 1-3).
“We knew if they got to the next level,” McCollum coach Juan Hinojosa said, meaning past the line of scrimmage and into the secondary, “their speed could cause problems for us. There were a couple of times they were able to take advantage of that.
“I give Jefferson all the credit.”
The Cowboys held a 14-7 lead as the first quarter ended. The score was tied 14-14 when Jefferson scored back-to-back touchdowns before halftime.
Carter turned a screen from Weston Redding (6 of 15, 106 yards) into a 46-yard pass play with 57 seconds left in the half. Following a McCollum fumble, Jesse Flores broke a 58-yard scoring run for a two-touchdown Mustangs halftime lead. Flores finished with four touchdowns.
` “All the hard work that we’ve been putting in during practice is paying off,” said Jefferson linebacker Davion Clark, who had an important sack and an interception. “It was great to have a win.”
The Mustangs had lapses in recent games, but never relinquished control after that late first-half surge. Jefferson added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns from Jesse Flores (210 yards, 19 attempts) on runs of 44 and 12 yards to ice the win and climb back into the playoff hunt.
The 44-yard run was a masterpiece. Following blocks from Eric Flores and Arturo Garcia, the junior turned his body sideways to slice through the line, then used a burst to leave Cowboys defenders behind.
“Those guys can’t do by themselves,” Doyle Redding said, referring to backs Jesse and Eric Flores. “The guys on the offensive line have dominated all year.
“Our defense stepped up when we needed them to. We made some mistakes but, overall, I’m very proud of the way we played.”
Jefferson is tied for sixth in the district with Lanier (2-5, 2-3) a half-game off the pace for the final playoff berth. McCollum is in seventh place.
“Whatever happens, our destiny’s in our hands,” Jefferson coach Doyle Redding said. “That’s what we want our kids to know. We’ve got a very important game coming up in two weeks against Brackenridge.”
McCollum led 7-0 on a 21-yard run from Mike Ramirez (137 yards, 21 carreis) with 6:03 left in the first quarter. Jesus Juarez sprung Ramirez with a devastating block.
Eric Flores answered for Jefferson with a 21-yarder of his own on the ensuing possession. Jesse Flores set up the score with a 37-yard kickoff return.
The Cowboys surged ahead with a 61-yard scoring drive near the end of the first quarter. McCollum quarterback Ralph Vidal scored around right end.
Vidal had one of his best passing games of his three-year career. The senior completed 13 of 27 throws for 187 yards. Senior receiver Robert Salas made six catches for 120 yards.
“We weren’t doing anything different,” Hinojosa said. “We did what we’ve been doing all along. We just executed a lot better.”
Jefferson’s defense stopped McCollum at the Mustangs 20 midway through second quarter. Redding completed three passes to Henry Bocko for 40 yards on the drive that followed. Jesse Flores found an opening up the middle for the tying touchdown with 5:29 until the half.
Despite the gap in the final score, Jefferson only outgained McCollum 356-345 in total yards.
Trailing by two touchdowns late in the third quarter, the Cowboys threatened to regain their early momentum. They marched 39 yards following a fumble recovery from Duran Rangel. On fourth-and-16 at the Jefferson 30, Clark fired through for a 14-yard sack.
“I didn’t know if they were going to pass,” Clark said, “but my coaches sent me on a (blitz). I have to credit my defensive line. If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t have gotten in there.”
It was the first game for McCollum since its players met with school district officials Sept. 30.
“The bye week was big for us,” Hinojosa said. “I’m proud of my football team for the way they played, even though we had a lot of turnovers.”