Karnes City upsets Natalia Mustangs

The Natalia Mustangs (7-3, 4-2) hosted the Karnes City Badgers (4-6, 3-3) in the season finale last Friday for Senior Night 2021. With the 2nd seed locked up in 15-3A (Div.II), the only true implications of this game were the fact it was win or go home for Karnes City with their 4th seed up for grabs. KC came out and played like they were the hungrier team, as QB Treyton Clark and Warrick Thompsom (6’1, Senior WR) had a connection like none other. Thompson had five huge catches for 127 yards with 4 touchdowns to lead the Badgers past Natalia in a big upset 35-28.
“I’m disappointed in the loss, more so for our seniors on their last home game,” Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “We didn’t coach well enough to win and we didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Natalia Mustangs got the ball to start the game and managed to move the ball from their own 44-yard line to the KC 37 on seven plays before staling out. This resulted in KC taking over at their own 38-yard line with 9:40 to go in the 1st quarter. KC used three plays to set up a 4th down and 1 at their own 48-yard line. This is when Treyton Clark found the senior WR Warrick Thompson on a 52-yard strike. The PAT failed but KC led 6-0 with 7:57 to go.
Natalia got the ball back for their second drive at their own 38-yard line. with 7:57 to go in the 1st. Natalia used a heavy dose of Adrian Vasquez runs, before QB Ryan Rizo ran the ball two plays and Luis Buentello 1 play. This had the ball down to the KC 2-yard line setting up a 1st and goal. Natalia’s Buentello ran in for the first Natalia touchdown with 5:20 to go in the quarter. The PAT by Manuel Garcia was good, giving Natalia a 7-6 lead.
The Natalia defense rose to the occasion on the ensuing drive, as they stopped KC on a 6-play drive before giving the Natalia offense back the ball at their own 39-yard line with 35 to go in the 1st quarter. Natalia used runs by Vasquez and Nate Banda to get down to the KC 16-yard line before Buentello was able to rush in for his second touchdown of the night. The PAT by Garcia was good, as Natalia extended their lead to 14-6.
This lead would stand until KC was able to strike late in the 2nd quarter on the second play of a drive. Clark found Thompson again on a 20-yard strike, where he pulled one down over two defenders. The two point try failed, but KC got within 14-12 of Natalia with 3:25 to go in the 1st half.
The Natalia Mustang offense responded back quickly, as they used a four-play drive to answer. Natalia’s Vasquez ran for plays of 25 and 2 yards before QB Ryan Rizo ran for 2 yards setting up a 3rd down and 6 for Natalia at the KC 10-yard line. Rizo was able to find Nate Banda in the corner of the end zone as Banda pulled in a nice one. The PAT by Garcia was good, as Natalia’s lead was 21-12 with 1:44 to go in the 1st half.
Unfortunately, Natalia’s defense was unable to slow down KC before the half. The Badgers used 7 plays to march 53 yards down field and scored on a Clark pass to Thompson on a 23-yard strike. This tie, KC kicked the PAT and it was good. This allowed the Badgers to close in on Natalia down 21-19 at the half.
KC got the ball back to start the second half and they went to work at their own 38-yard line. The Badgers used three runs by Jeremiah Rivera, before Clark found Jason Foley on a 10-yard pass. Foley would strike once more, as he scored from 7 yards out with 9:22 to go in the 3rd quarter. The two-point run by QB Clark was god, as the Badgers took their first lead of the game 27-21 over Natalia.
The Natalia offense was unable to answer on the ensuing drive, as KC stopped the Mustangs and got the ball back with 7:11 to go in the 3rd quarter at the Natalia 45-yard line. KC used five plays, to strike on a Clark pass to Thompson for his 4th touchdown of the game. This came on a 22-yard strike with 5:24 to go in the 3rd quarter. The two-point pass from Clark to Gabriel Gutierrez was good, as KC extended their lead to 35-21.
Natalia got the ball back with 5:24 to go in the quarter at their own 35-yard line. Nate Banda was able to break lose on a 42-yard run. There was a defensive hold on the play allowing Natalia to get the ball on to the KC 12-yard line. Vasquez ran for a 10-yard gain, before scoring from 2 yards out with 4:49 to go in the 3rd quarter. The PAT by Garcia was good, as Natalia was now down 35-28.The Mustangs had one final shot as they got the ball back with 1:46 to go in the game at their own 7-yard line, but an interception ended the Mustangs hopes. Three kneel downs later and KC had pulled off the 35-28 upset win over Natalia.
“We were out of position a lot and then couldn’t make a play when we needed it the most,” Martinez said. “That allowed them to make some big plays against us in the most critical of times.”
Final #s
The Karnes City Badgers had a big night offensively with 67 plays to account for 352 yards of offense which included 217 passing and 135 rushing. They had 0 turnovers and 21 1st downs on the night. They also had 7-61 yards in penalties.
QB Clark finished 15-27-217-4TDs on the night. On the ground, Rivera led with 22-18.
For Natalia, it was their worst night passing of the season. Natalia was 4-8-18-1TD-1INT. Rushing, Vasquez led 13-91-1TD, as Buentello had 8-68-2TDs. Banda also had 8-68.
“All night we were one block away from making the plays we needed and KC did a great job of making the most of their opportunities,” Martinez said.
Playoff Bound
Despite the two-game skid, Natalia is playoff bound for the 4th time in 5 seasons.
“We’ll find out what we’re made of after that disappointing loss,” Martinez said. “It’s win or go home time. The season is 0-0 now.”
Natalia will battle the 3rd seed out of 16-3A Taft Greyhounds this coming Thursday Night in Three Rivers at 7:30 p.m. See the playoff preview story for more details.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer