Cole Cougars put away Mustangs in the 2nd half

Diego Zapata sprints down the field.

The Natalia Mustangs struggled to find identity offensively, as the Cole Cougars snubbed almost anything they attempted. When you combine a youthful offense with self inflicted mistakes, it turned into a frustrating night for the boys in blue.
The positive about the out-come, was the fact most of their mistakes are fixable and will come with time. Natalia is hoping to put behind their 19-0 season opening loss to the Cougars, as they have a second tough challenge ahead of them. For a second straight week, Natalia will meet boys who call a US Armed Forces Base home. Week two, begins Friday Night at Randolph Field vs. the Ro-Hawks (0-1).
“We struggled to match their physicality up front offensively and defensively, we allowed their QB to get away from us as he extended some drives,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said.
Cole QB Ya’Monie Crawford was truly a difference maker, as he extended plays with his feet, bailing the Cougars out of a number of 3rd and long situations throughout the night.
When Cole stuck to their scripted offense, the Natalia defense held their own for the most part. When the Cole staff gave Crawford the green light to create and be innovative, he found a way to make something out of nothing.
Crawford was able to show his strength as a true QB at times as well, as he threw a 24 yard bullet into the endzone to Damion Legaspe with 2:16 to go in the opening quarter to put the Cougars on the board. The PAT failed, but the Cougars were on the board on their third offensive possession after getting great field position.
On the ensuing drive, Natalia drove from their own 22 yard line to the Cole 20 yard line thanks to an eight play drive. Unfortunately, the Stangs threw one of two interceptions on the night killing the drive. That is as close as the Mustangs would get to the endzone throughout the season opener.
Defensively, Natalia held off the Cougars until late in the 3rd quarter of action.
Cole took advantage of yet another short-field, as they used a nine play drive to score on a one yard touchdown by Crawford with 46 seconds to go in the quarter. This time, the PAT was good giving Cole a 13-0 lead.
Cole finished off Natalia in the 4th quarter, as Crawford capped off a 7 play 45 yard drive with one final touchdown. This allowed the Ft. Sam squad to secure a 19-0 win over Natalia.
“I knew they were going to be a good football team and we would have to play our best game to beat them,” Martinez said. “Defensively, we played on a short field most of the night and had some undisciplined errors which created scoring opportunities.”
Offensively, Natalia returned only four starters back this season and the youth showed throughout. Natalia continues to try and find their go to man at not only the QB spot, but at the RB position. Natalia used two QBs and both were on the run throughout due to pressure by the Cole defense. Some of this was to credit the talent and speed of the Cole defense, but other times it was due to a youthful line which was out-sized by Cole and unable to hold their ground long enough.
“Offensively, we are still trying to establish ourselves,” Martinez said. “We know everything we do starts with our run game and we didn’t get that established. When you can’t run the ball, it’s hard to set up anything else.”
Final Stats: Total Offense: Cole 361, Natalia 81. Number of Plays: Cole 51, Natalia 45. Passing: Cole 2-10-34, Natalia 8-19-78-2INTs. Rushing: Cole 41 attempts-327 yards, Natalia 26 attempts-3 yards. Penalties: Cole 14-110, Natalia 7-53. First Downs: Cole 21, Natalia 10. Passing Natalia: Juelian Armendariz 5-14-58, Wyatt Woodson 3-5-20-2INTs. Rushing: Jacob Jass 6-16, Woodson 5-13, Jared Stallworth 7-9. Receiving: Stallworth 3-32, Jimmy Ray Gutierrez 2-24, Xavier Vasquez 2-15.
Upcoming Game
The Natalia Mustangs (0-1) travel to Universal City to battle the Randolph Ro-Hawks (0-1) who are coming off a tough 34-6 loss to the Poth Pirates (1-0).
“Randolph is a big physical team and they are well coached,” Coach Martinez said. “They are well coached and stick to what they know.”
Randolph competes in District 15-3A (Div. I) and they are picked by most to finish on the outside looking in. They return five offensive and six defensive starters from a team that went 5-6 and finished their season in Bi-District.
Randolph’s go to men will be RBs Jalan Wilson and Maximus Hill. Offensively, the Ro-Hawks will run their offense out of the Wing-T formation and defensively they like to run a 3-4 cover 4 set-up.
“Last week was not the outcome that we wanted, but we will continue to get better each week,” Martinez said.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Mickler Memorial Field and as always, you will most likely need your ID in order to get onto base.
By Eric Smith