The Natalia Mustangs showed no fear early vs. the #7 state ranked Jourdanton Indians last Friday night, as the boys in blue began the game with an impressive 71 yard touchdown drive.
From here on out, it was an early back and forth battle which eventually got out of hand following four turnovers by the Stangs.
When it was all said and done, the Indians were able to win quite comfortably on the scoreboard 49-24, although many who attended the game will tell you things were much closer for just over a half of the contest.
At the end of the night, turnovers were the difference as J-Town capitalized.
“I am disappointed in the loss, but I am proud of how our kids competed,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “Our kids were prepared and up for the challenge of taking on a good football team like Jourdanton, we just couldn’t execute consistently.”
As mentioned, Natalia got off to a strong start, as they used 13 plays to drive down 71 yards for the opening touchdown drive. Natalia QB Wyatt Woodson was able to run in from 6 yards out with 8:22 to go in the opening quarter. On this drive, there were plenty of good runs by Woodson, Adrian Vasquez as well as passes to Xavier Vasquez, Enrique DeOsio and Jacob Navarro. The PAT failed as it was blocked giving Natalia the short-lived 6-0 lead.
Jourdanton wasted no time, as they had a nice kickoff return by Nick Cordova who returned the ball 35 yards up to their own 47. One play later on a little trickery, J-Town used a flea-flicker as QB Cole Andrus struck on a 53 yard pass to Aidan Borth putting the Tribe on the board with 7:59 to go in the 1st Quarter. The PAT by Jared Lilly was good, as J-Town led 7-6.
The Stangs got the ball back and on the second play of the drive, Woodson threw the first of four interceptions as Colton Schuschart gave the Indians back the football.
J-Town used eight plays to march 51 yards down field before scoring on a huge pass from Andrus to Luke Tapp for the Indian Touchdown. This TD came with 4:32 to go in the 1st and following the Lilly PAT, Big Red led 14-6.
Natalia got the ball back at their own 32 and used twelve plays to march downfield to the Indian 18 yard line. This is when Justin Ledesma beat out a Natalia receiver for a pass by Woodson and J-Town had their second interception that would have most likely been a touchdown, if not for the great defensive play.
J-Town went back to work and only needed ten plays to score their 3rd touchdown, courtesy of a Payton Gonzales 24 yard run. The PAT by Lilly was good again, as the Tribe increased their lead to 21-6 with 9:51 to go in the first half.
The Stangs battled back, as they put together a sixteen play drive that marched 81 yards down field and resulted in a 4-yard Woodson touchdown. The two point try failed by inches, as Natalia trailed 21-12 when the first half would come to completion.
At the half, Natalia actually led statistically 235 yards to 233 by the Indians in what was truly a competitive first half of football.
In the second half, Jourdanton received to start the second half and wasted no time. The Tribe got the ball at their own 38 and used 10 plays to march downfield and score on a Cole Andrus run. The PAT was good, as the Indians increased their lead to 28-12.
Natalia officially took themselves out of the game on the following drive, as Colton Schuchart intercepted a Woodson pass on the third play of their second half drive. One play later, Andrus found Nick Cordova on a 49 yard strike and the Indians had taken over 35-12.
Jourdanton finished the game with touchdowns by Lilly and Cordova as Natalia rounded things out with touchdown runs by Nate Banda (51 yards) and Elijah Banda (2 yards) as the Tribe handed Natalia a tough 49-24 loss.
“I feel in any game, the turnover battle is always a difference marker and we did a poor job not only of taking care of the ball, but of creating takeaways as well on the defensive side of the ball,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “It will be an area we work on for sure.”
Final Stats: Total Offense: Jourdanton 447 yards, Natalia 427. Passing: Jourdanton 272, Natalia 122. Rushing: Jourdanton 175, Natalia 305. Penalties: Jourdanton 13-80, Natalia 8-60. Turnovers: Jourdanton 2, Natalia 6. 1st Downs: Jourdanton 21, Natalia 26.
Individual Stat Leaders: Andrus 14-23-272-4TDs-1INT, Woodson 13-31-122-4INTs. Rushing: Cordova 6-59-1TD, Tyler Berg 4-35; Adrian Vasquez 13-82, Elijah Banda 14-82, Woodson 20-80, Banda 3-61. Receiving: Cordova 3-72, Lilly 4-70; A. Vasquez 4-46, X. Vasquez 3-31.
Comments from Head Coach Ilyan Martinez:
What went well offensively? “I was very happy with our offensive line play. They were physical from the start to finish and dominated the line of scrimmage in my opinion. I haven’t seen that kind of line play collectively in some time. Coach Terry did a great job of having the kids ready to play. Our offense set the tone and played with great tempo and that was part of the game plan.
What went well defensively? “I felt our secondary did a great job of handling their big play capability and I was pleased with how our corners played. They were up to the challenge as soon as they stepped onto the field.
What areas hurt us on both sides of the ball?
“Execution wise, I think Coach Reynolds and Crowther did a great job of planning for Jourdanton. We just didn’t execute to the best of our ability and that hurt us. Offensively, we would move the ball, then shoot ourselves in the foot with a turnover or busted assignment. Defensively, on 3rd down defense, we struggled and couldn’t get off the field when we needed to.”
Overall Thoughts: “I was happy our kids showed they can play with the best in the state. I wasn’t sure what to expect from us with the condition due to an unusual spring and summer, but I was pleased with how we worked. Considering Jourdanton had twice the kids, we were in great shape.”
Natalia will turn their attention to their annual RivalBattle vs Lytle Friday as the Indians will prepare for a tough Calallen Wildcat squad.
By Eric Smith