Mustangs hold on in district opener vs. Stockdale

A group of Varsity Mustangs including #5 Michael Martinez, #88 Xavier Vosquez, and #10 Jacob Navarro take down a Stockdale ball carrier.

On paper, the Natalia Mustangs were the much more dominant squad in their 15-3A (Div.II) opener last Friday night vs. the Stockdale Brahmas. Natalia put on a show for the standing room only Homecoming crowd, as they out-gained the Brahmas 366 yards to just 189.
The only issues arose in the second half, when Natalia had a total of four turnovers, despite two of them being very questionable calls by the officials.
When it was all said and done, Natalia was able to overcome late adversity en route to a 31-21 win vs. the Brahmas. This marked only the 5th or 6th time in program history, the boys in blue have beat this Purple Clad Wilson County squad, although the two have not met very many times in the history of the two programs.
“Winning is tough and when you get to district play it seems to get even tougher,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “I will never take a win for granted and I am very proud of our boys and coaches and their ability to find a way to win last Friday.”
This game started off a bit sloppy on offense with both teams playing stingy defense early on. The Brahmas were able to get on the scoreboard first, as they used their second drive of the game to score. Stockdale ran a total of seventeen plays that used a total of over 7:00 minutes on the clock to score on a QB run by Alonzo Marquez. This talented running QB scored from 1 yard out with 7:33 to go in the first half. The PAT was good, as Stockdale led 7-0.
Natalia answered back on the ensuing drive that began at their own 38 yard line with 7:33 to go in the 1st half. This drive consisted of runs by QB Woodson, RB Adrian Vasquez, a pass from Woodson to Xavier Vasquez and was capped off on a 1 yard run by Adrian Vasquez with 3:33 to go in the 1st half. The PAT by Diego Hernandez was good to tie things up.
Natalia’s defense rose to the occasion on the next possession by the Brahmas, as they forced them into a three and out punt.
The Stangs got the ball back at their own 39 yard line. Natalia used a Woodson top Adrian Vasquez pass, a Woodson run for a loss before the biggest offensive play of the night took place. Facing a 2nd down and 13 from their own 49, Natalia’s Woodson threw with the wind down-field on a ball that was slightly over thrown. Have no fear, because Natalia’s big play maker Diego Zapata soared into the air leaping high above a Stockdale defender, bringing down a huge catch and raced 51 yards for a Natalia touchdown. The PAT was good, as Natalia led 14-7 and this is how it stood at the half.
Natalia received to start the second half of play and began their drive at their own 43 yard line with plans of hopefully taking over this ball game. Unfortunately, the first of four fumbles took place although this one didn’t appear to be. Stockdale took over, but luckily the Natalia defense stopped the Brahmas and got the ball back with 9:01 to go in the 3rd at the Stockdale 37 after a rough punt.
Natalia used a Vasquez run, and three straight Woodson runs to score on a 27 yard run by the QB. The PAT was good, to extend Natalia’s lead to 21-7.
The Mustang defense rose to the occasion again on the next Brahma possession forcing a turnover on downs.
Two plays later, Natalia fumbled for the second time of the half allowing Stockdale life. The Brahmas needed just one play, as QB Marquez completed one of his rare passes on the night, but the biggest of the night. He found #5 Travis May in the endzone for a 35 yard touchdown with 4:07 to go in the third. The PAT by Clancy was good, allowing the Brahmas to hang around, closing the gap to 21-14.
Things only began to crumble, as the Brahmas attempted an onside kick and recovered. They took over at the Natalia 40, but once again, the Natalia defense rose to the occasion forcing a punt.
One play later by the Natalia offense and QB Woodson fumbled ending yet another Natalia possession.
Stockdale took over at the Natalia 4 yard line and needed two plays to score thanks to a run by May. The PAT was good and all of a sudden with 2:26 to go in the 3rd quarter, we were tied 21-21.
Natalia got the ball back at their own 48 yard line and drove down the field and settled for a field-goal by Diego Hernandez who connected from 26 yards out with 10:35 to go in the game giving Natalia a 24-21 edge.
The Mustang defense put together yet another big stand forcing Stockdale to punt, allowing the Mustangs to put this one in the books. The Mustangs used run by Jass, Vasquez and Woodson before tacking on the final score. This took place on a pass from Woodson to Adrian Vasquez the RB from 5 yards out with 2:49 to go in the game. The PAT was good, allowing for a 31-21 lead and this is how it would stand when the final buzzer sounded thanks to one final stand by the Natalia defense.
“Obviously anytime you give the opposing team four extra possessions, that is an issue,” Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “We have been really good about taking care of the ball before Friday night, so credit Stockdale for creating those. We know we need to do a better job in this area if we are going to have a chance moving forward.”
Final #s
Natalia out-gained the Brahmas as mentioned 366-189. Natalia ran 54 plays compared to 53 by the Brahmas and Natalia passed for 134 yards compared to 45 by Stockdale. Natalia out-rushed the Brahmas 232-144. One positive that also stood out was the fact Natalia had one penalty for five yards.
A big stat that also stood out was Natalia held the edge 22 1st downs compared to 10 by the Brahmas.
Individual #s
Natalia’s Woodson was 10-13-134-2TDs on the night as he connected with Zapata who was 2-61-1TD and X. Vasquez who was 5-43. A. Vasquez was 3-30.
Rushing, A. Vasquez was 18-105-1TD as Woodson was 14-83-1TD. Jass ran 8-41.
Coach Ilyan Martinez’s thoughts on the Natalia Offense
“I was very happy with how physical we were up front,” Martinez said. “Our offensive line did a great job of establishing the run game for us and protecting our QB all night. I am happy with how hard our backs ran the ball and the decisions our QB made. Our wide outs also had big catches for us when we needed them and we were able to move the ball up and down the field.
Thoughts on defense
“After giving up over a hundred points in the last two games combined, we challenged our defense and they did not disappoint,” Martinez said. “I was pleased with how well play played the triple option. That is an offense that we don’t see often and is hard to replicate in practice. It all started up front with our defensive line coming off the ball and creating some negative plays. Our LBs played sideline to sideline and were around the ball all night. Our secondary was great in run support also had had some big stops in the secondary.
Struggles continue to minimize-slow starts
“I thought we started the game better than we had,” Martinez said. “This was a focus for us the last two weeks. We know we have a long way to go from where we want to be, but I am happy with the progress. We need to be better on 3rd down efficiency and on the defensive side and I would like to be more consistent in the redzone.
Upcoming Game
Natalia will welcome the Dilley Wolves to town Friday night at 7:30 p.m. See the Dilley preview story for more details.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer