The Natalia Mustang defense was flying around the field last Friday night making open field tackles, dominating the Stockdale offensive line and forcing the Brahmas into three turnovers. As a result, the Natalia Mustang offense did their job, as they began to execute in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a dominating 34-7 victory over Stockdale. This marked Natalia’s first win over the Brahmas since 2017 and just their 4th win over the Wilson County club in school history (1992 & 1960).
“We made too many mistakes in the first half,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “Turnovers and missed tackles are something we’ve done a good job of limiting all year up until this point and we just didn’t do a good job in the first half.”
Don’t kid yourself, those mistakes were early in the first half, but didn’t last long as Natalia slowly turned up the heat and were really impressive once they began to execute.
Natalia got the ball first at their own 42 yard line and began to drive down field before a rare high snap soared over QB Ryan Rizo’s head and was recovered by Stockdale.
Luckily the Natalia Mustang defense rose to the occasion and held the Brahmas from scoring on that drive. This game was scoreless, until midway thru the second quarter.
Stockdale’s first touchdown drive began at their own 28 yard line as the Brahmas drove down field on 14 plays. Stockdale struck first as Jaren Cano ran in from 11 yards out for the Brahma Touchdown. The Adam Hathaway PAT was good giving the visitors a short-lived 7-0 lead with 7:58 to go in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Natalia’s David Silva had a nice kickoff return back for 32 yards setting Natalia up with great field position. Natalia started at the Stockdale 49 yard line and used a 9 play drive to march down field. During this drive, three big plays included two big pass plays on 3rd down from Rizo to Manuel Garcia and one to Devin Perez. This set up Elijah Banda’s first touchdown of the game for Natalia, on a 1 yard run with 5:28 to go in the first half. The PAT by Garcia was good, as Natalia tied the game.
Natalia did have one additional chance to score in the first half as Natalia blocked a Stockdale punt and took over at the Stockdale 8 yard line. What appeared to be a “free play” for the offense due to Stockdale jumping off sides resulted in just the second interception of the season for Ryan Rizo. Unfortunately, flags were not thrown for off-sides which resulted in the turnover and a missed opportunity by Natalia.
This is how things would stand at the half, tied 7-7.
Stockdale came out and received the ball to start the second half of play and Natalia’s defense rose to the occasion early.On Stockdale’s second play of their drive to start the second half, Natalia’s Adrian Vasquez was able to intercept a Camden Derricoatte pass intended for their stud receiver Jeremy Irwrin at the Stockdale 45 and head to the end-zone for a Natalia touchdown. The PAT by Garcia was good, as Natalia took a 14-7 lead with 11:18 to go in the 3rd quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Natalia was able to knock a fumble out of the Brahmas as Jayden Burford recovered giving Natalia back the football. The Stangs took over at the Stockdale 26 and needed 7 plays to score on a 4-yard Ryan Rizo touchdown run. The PAT was good, as Natalia extended their lead to 21-7 with 9:12 to go in the 3rd quarter.
The next Stockdale drive would be a statement in the end for the Natalia defense. Stockdale got the ball at their own 35 and used just over 15 plays to march down field before they were set up with first and goal at the Natalia 1 yard line. The Natalia Mustangs rose to the occasion, as this was the first of two huge goal-line stands by the Natalia defense as they shut down the Brahmas from scoring.
Natalia took over at their own 6 yard line with 2:02 to go in the 3rd quarter. Natalia used 11 plays to march down field with a heavy dose of the Natalia rush offense by Elijah Banda, Luis Buentello and Adrian Vasquez. Vasquez had the honor of punching in this touchdown from 2 yards out, with 9:07 to go in the game. The PAT was good, as Natalia had taken a 28-7 lead which had the Natalia faithful on their feet loving what they saw.
The Natalia defense held on the ensuing kickoff, but one play later Natalia turned the ball over with a fumble giving the Brahmas one last glimpse of hope as they got the ball at their own 28 with 7:28 to go in the game.
The Natalia defense would rise to the occasion again, as Natalia’s Christopher Saldana intercepted the 4th pass of the drive by Derricoatte and raced 40 yards for the final Natalia touchdown. The two point try failed, but the Stangs had extended their lead to 34-7 with 6:39 to go in the game.
At the end of the game, Natalia was down two punters due to injury and was forced to punt from deep in their own territory. Stockdale took over at the Natalia 2-yard line with 50 seconds to go in the game. The Natalia defense did what they had all night and that was make a statement.The boys in blue held Stockdale in two straight plays as Nate Banda tackled the Brahmas as time expired holding them out of the end-zone allowing Natalia to pick up a huge 34-7 home victory over Stockdale to improve to 2-0 in district play and 5-1 overall.
Coach Martinez’s thoughts on turning things up in the second half
“Nothing changed for us,” Martinez said. “We made our mind up to control the controllable and to play our game the way we knew we were capable of. Once we got over the fact that there wasn’t anything we could do about the first half, our guys came out and took control of the game. I am really proud of how they responded and I think our program took a big step in getting better Friday night.”
What went well offensively
The Natalia Mustangs used 53 plays to account for 251 yards of offense which included 96 yards passing and 155 yards rushing. The only down side was the fact Natalia did have 3 turnovers which was a season high for one game. Natalia also accounted for 18 1st downs
“A lot goes well offensively when your defense gives you a short field and scores poinbts for you,” Martinez said. “I thought our offense did a great job of running the ball last night. Our backs ran hard all night and our offensive line worse them down as the game went on. Ryan did another great job of managing the game.
Rizo who had just his 2nd INT all season, finished 8-14-96 on the night. Rushing, E. Banda led 13-76-1TD, L. Buentello 10-43, A. Vasquez 10-33-1TD. Garcia led the receiving core 3-40 as Silva was 2-18 and D.Perez 1-17.
A defensive team effort
A total of 15 Natalia Mustangs contributed with tackles and or assist against the Brahmas which showed another true team effort with numerous men stepping up throughout the night.
“The defense came out and had another great showing for us like they have most of the year,” Martinez said. “They are playing with a lot of confidence and pride and it’s been the difference in every game for us.”
Natalia held Stockdale to 216 yards of offense on 66 plays for just 3.3 yards per play. Stockdale rushed for 146 yards and passed for 70. Natalia did hold their leading rusher Cutter Clancy to 43 yards of rushing and 0 touchdowns on the night and their leading receiver Irwin to 4 receptions for only 16 yards.
Defensive Leaders for Natalia: Assists- Garcia 8, E. Banda 8, Vasquez 4, N. Banda 4, D.Silva 3, Gabriel Perez 3. Tackles- G. Perez 9,m D. Perez 8, N. Banda 5, Paul Zapata 5, Austin Sutton 5, Saldana 4.
Goal-line defensive success
A huge statement made in this game you don’t always see is when your defense holds a really good football team two different drives at the goal-line.
“I think that shows the pride of our guys in those moments,” Martinez said. “They never turn it down and they always play every snap with a sense of pride. I am just really proud of how we responded to some adversity early and how we played in the second half. They made a conscious decision to control the outcome and they did leave no doubt.”
Natalia (5-1, 2-0) will travel to George West Friday to battle the Longhorns as district play continues. See the preview story for more details.
By Eric Smith