Skidmore runs wild vs. Natalia in district finale

The Natalia Mustangs were defenseless in Skidmore last Friday night, as the Bobcats ran wild in the district finale in a game that luckily did not end up hurting the Natalia Mustangs when it came to district standings.
Despite the fact that Natalia (7-3, 3-2) finished 15-3A (Div. II) as the 2nd seed, the Stangs must lick an open wound from a Skidmore offense that ripped the Natalia defense early and often en route to a lop-sided 52-21 road loss in Bee County.
The Stangs will turn their attention to the Hebbronville Longhorns (6-4, 4-2), who are coming off a huge 49-18 win over Taft to secure the 3rd seed in 16-3A (Div. II). The two programs will match-up this coming Saturday, November 16th at Jourdanton Indian Stadium in a Bi-District Playoff at 7:00 p.m.
“They showed up and played their best game,” Natalia Head Coach Ilyan Martinez stated in reference to Skidmore-Tynan. “They had all their players for the first time in some time and they played like it was their last game of the season. Credit to them for coming out and winning every phase of the game.”
Skidmore was able to daze and confuse the Natalia defense for a third straight year and it started right away. Skidmore’s Kade Florence was able to take the first play from scrimmage which started at their own 22 yard line 33 yards around the corner as Natalia missed an assignment. Seven plays later and the Bobcats struck on an 8 yard run by Logan Schanen. Skidmore went for blood early setting the tone, as they converted on the two point try on a pass from Florence to Edward Soto. This gave the Cats an 8-0 lead with 7:35 to go in the opening quarter.
Natalia got the ball at their own 47 yard line thanks to a 41 yard kickoff return by Diego Zapata. Unfortunately, Natalia stalled out at the midfield line as Woodson who was under pressure all night was sacked for a loss on 3rd and 7.
Natalia punted the football to the Skidmore 1 yard line and the Cats returned the ball to their own 26. They took over with 4:10 to go in the opening quarter.
Skidmore began to eat up clock with their run game and would put together a dagger of a drive that lasted 11 plays and ate up over 6 minutes on the clock. They scored on a Schanen 13 yard run. This time they kicked the PAT and took a 14-0 lead with 9:51 to go in the 1st half.
Things only got worse for Natalia when they got the ball back, as they ran two running plays before Woodson forced a pass and it was intercepted by Edward Soto at the Natalia 24 yard line. Three plays later and Klayton Alvarado ran in from 5 yards out for the Skidmore touchdown with 7:13 to go in the first half. The Two point try failed, but the Cats led 20-0.
Natalia got the ball back with 7:13 to go at their own 25 yards line, but Natalia’s Woodson continued to struggle to find his rhythm in his first game back since the Poth game in which he left with an injury. Natalia stalled out at their own 37 yard line and Skidmore took advantage of a short field.
The Cats ran four plays and scored with 3:37 to go on a Felix Menchaca 21 yard run. This time the two point run by Florence was good as the Cats had opened up a shocking 28-0 lead on Natalia.
Natalia finally found the end-zone, as they started at their own 44 yard line and drove down field and scored on a Woodson 2 yard run with 1:17 to go in the first half. The PAT failed by Hernandez, but Natalia trailed 28-6 now.
To capp off a struggling and frustrating first half, the Cats had two final knock down punches for the Stangs. The first came two plays later on the ensuing drive, as Alvarado took the play 73 yards for another Skidmore touchdown with 1:06 to go in the first half. The PAT was good pushing their lead to 35-6.
Natalia got the ball back and disaster struck four plays later when Natalia continued their offensive struggles. Natalia had their first punt blocked of the season, giving the Cats the ball at their own 22 yard line. Three plays later Skidmore settled for a 39 yard field goal attempt. Everything had gone the Cats way including this long field-goal that had plenty of distance. This allowed Skidmore to go into the half with a dominating 38-6 lead.
In the second half, Natalia got the ball to start as Woodson threw his second interception of the game. Luckily, the Natalia defense rose and stopped Skidmore for the first time of the night and got the ball back inside Skidmore territory.
Natalia ran nine plays and scored their second touchdown of the game on a pass from Woodson to Adrian Vasquez. The two point pass from Jacob Navarro to Austin Guzman was good. This brought the score to 38-14.
Unfortunately, Natalia’s defense couldn’t come up with two stops in a row, as Skidmore drove 69 yards down field and scored on a Menchaca 7 yard run with 1:04 to go in the 3rd allowing for a 45-14 lead.
Natalia scored one final time with 8:50 to go in the game on a Woodson 4 yard run. The PAT was good, bringing the score to 45-21.
Skidmore would have the last bite, as they scored on a Schanen 4 yard run with 1:34 to go. The PAT was good allowing the Cats to run away with a 52-21 victory over the Natalia Mustangs.
Questions for Coach Martinez on the Skidmore-Tynan Loss:
What went wrong defensively?
“Defensively we couldn’t consistently slow them down. We’d be great on 1st & 2nd down and give up a 3rd and long conversion. We would be one gap away from making the play or we would play it perfectly and then miss the tackle. We just couldn’t put together a string of stops to help us get our footing. You couple all those things with working on a short field with turnovers and punt miscues our defense was up against it and couldn’t make the stops when we needed it.
What caused 3 years of struggles vs their offense?
“Skidmore does a great job of executing that offense and when you only defend it one time a year it can be difficult. This is an offense that is about ground and pound with an emphasis on controlling the ball and the clock. They are satisfied with three yards at a time and they sit and wait for you to make mistakes and they take advantage of it. That was no different on Friday and we didn’t get the job done.”
What led to slow start offensively?
We knew it was going to be different working Wyatt back into the starting role at QB. We wanted to keep things simple and not ask him to do too much. We got behind early and we began to press a little and couldn’t get anything going. I think Wyatt started to get more comfortable as the game went along and everyone settled down and started playing. Unfortunately we dug ourselves a pretty good hole early and couldn’t get out of it.
Final Stats
Skidmore-Tynan ran 51 plays for 413 yards of offense which included 0 passing yards and 413 rushing. Natalia ran 58 plays for 245 yards which included 110 passing and 135 rushing.
Skidmore-Tynan had 0 turnovers compared to two by Natalia. Skidmore-Tynan had 24 1st downs compared to 17 by Natalia.
Skidmore was 4-6 on 3rd down and Natalia 6-12. Natalia’s Woodson was 11-24-110-1TD-2INTs as he also rushed 15-69-2TDs. Vasquez rushed 15-60. Receiving, X. Vasquez caught 3-36 and Evy Curiel 1-28.
Bi-District Game
Natalia will travel to Atascosa County Saturday for their Bi-District game vs. Hebbronville Saturday night. See the preview story for more details. Natalia is playoff bound for the 4th time since 1989 and the 11th time in school history.
By Eric Smith
Staff Writer