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Van Horn Advocate
The Eagles host the Andrews Mustangs tonight, starting at about 7:15 p.m. at the Pecos High School gym. It's the first home match for the Eagles after nine straight contests on the road, which ended this past Saturday with a split of matches against Greenwood and San Angelo Central.
It lifted the Eagles' season record to 11-7, while Andrews climbed over the .500 mark, at 8-6, by taking a trio of matches Saturday over Grandfalls, Snyder and Fort Hancock to claim their own tournament's title. But since Pecos' last district title, in 1992, the Mustangs have dominated their series with the Eagles, winning six of eight district matches, including the last five in a row.
"I think it will be good to finally come back and have a home game. I think it will help having the fans behind us," said Eagles' coach Becky Granado, after her team's split on Saturday.
Andrews has used their height advantage to hit over the Eagles in recent years, though things will be a little more even this season. "(Coach) Penny Bane's daughter (Ali) is tough, but not as tough as Karen (Gasch), Granado said, referring to Greenwood's 6-foot spiker who was able to hit the ball over Pecos' blockers. "I'm hoping my kids can get up there and block her on Tuesday."
Play opens tonight's with freshmen and junior varsity matches at 6 p.m. in the old and new Pecos High School gyms. After tonight, the Eagles go back on the road for matches at Sweetwater and Fort Stockton, before their next home contest, on Sept. 27 against Big Spring.
Jonathan Fuentes got the Eagles' lone victory of the day. Playing at No. 1 singles seed, he defeated Andrews' Chris Martinez by 6-3, 7-5 scores.
"This being the first district match, they took it real seriously," Eagles' coach Bernadette Ornelas said, while adding, "I think the kids were also real nervous.
"But they know what needs to be worked on to get ready for San Angelo Lake View," whom the Eagles face on the road this Saturday. "They beat Fort Stockton, 12-6, so I think it will be a fairly even match."
Like Fuentes' victory, all of the Mustangs' wins were straight set victories. The closest matches were at No. 1 doubles, where Fuentes and Mark Marquez lost to Mitch Findley and Andrew Farrar, 7-5, 6-2, and from No. 3 and 4 singles players Tye Graham and Jeff Lam, who lost their matches to Vin Fisher and Findley by matching 6-3, 6-3 scores.
For the girls, the closest match was a 6-1, 6-3 loss by Nichi Dannelley at No. 3 singles to Georgia Stien. "They've got a strong girls team," Ornelas said.
Jonathan Fuentes defeated Chris Martinez, 6-3, 7-5; Mark Marquez lost to Will Foster, 6-1, 6-3; Tye Graham lost to Vin Fisher, 6-3, 6-3; Jeff Lam lost to Mitch Findley, 6-3, 6-3; Alan Fleming lost to Andrew Farrar, 6-1, 6-1; David Lam lost to Boone Hill, 6-0, 6-0.
Randa Taylor lost to Joanna Thompson, 6-1, 6-1; Teresa Minjarez lost to Christi Overbeck, 6-0, 6-0; Nichi Dannelley lost to Georgia Stien, 6-1, 6-3; Vanessa Miranda lost to Sarai Granados, 6-0, 6-0; Erin Dominguez lost to Melissa Wood, 6-1, 6-1; Rachel Pharoah lost to Blair Long, 6-2, 6-0.
Fuentes and Marquez lost to Findley and Farrar, 7-5, 6-2; Graham and J. Lam lost to Martinez and Foster, 6-2, 6-2; D. Lam and Fleming lost to Fisher and Hill, 6-1, 6-0.
Taylor and Dannelley lost to Overbeck and Thompson, 6-0, 6-1; Minjarez and Miranda lost to Stien and Granados, 6-1, 6-1; Dominguez and Pharoah lost to Wood and Long, 6-1, 6-1.
Not wishing to start 1-3 like they did in 1996, when the Cowboys struggled to make in the playoffs, Barry Switzer declared Monday night's meeting with Philadelphia a ``must'' game.
Then, after being outplayed for 59 minutes, they got not one, but two gifts from the football gods in an improbable 21-20 victory over the dumbstruck Eagles.
First, Anthony Miller made a circus catch on a 14-yard pass from Troy Aikman for a touchdown with 51 seconds left.
This was the same Miller who decided last week after two plays that his hamstring was on the verge of giving him trouble and took the rest of the day off.
Then came miracle No. 2: The Eagles (1-2) botched a 22-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
Punter Tom Hutton, holding for former Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol, fumbled the snap, tried to run with it and was tackled by Deion Sanders, giving a bizaree game a bizarre finish.
``When Chris came out, I thought it was only appropriate that he be the one to beat us after all he did for us last season,'' Dallas special teams captain Bill Bates said. ``But I've played a lot of games in high school, college and 15 years in the NFL, and the game isn't over until the last second ticks off the clock.''
The Cowboys (2-1), as does Philadelphia, have a bye next week, and they're going to need it to give over the shock of winning this one after trailing by two touchdowns. Dallas blew a 15-point lead last week to lose to Arizona.
``I couldn't believe what happened,'' Dallas coach Barry Switzer said. ``Somebody up there likes us. For the first 59 minutes, I wasn't sure. That was just a chip-shot field goal. I thought it was over. I'm worn out.''
Ty Detmer hit Freddie Solomon with a 46-yard pass to the Dallas 5 with four seconds to play. The Eagles, who started from their own 16, called their final timeout for Boniol.
It was going to be a sure game-winner. Understand that Boniol had made 46 consecutive field goals from inside the 35-yard line. It looked like a second upset win in a row for the Eagles, who beat the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers 10-9 last week.
``The snap was fine,'' Hutton said. ``I just dropped it. I take all the blame for it. I should catch every ball. It's my mistake. I took off and ran, that's all I could do.''
Boniol was shocked to see the ball on the ground.
``I'm really disappointed because this was against the Cowboys,'' Boniol said. ``I know how the fans in Philly feel about them. It was important to me because it was my old team. For me, it was money in the bank from there. I'm still in shock.''
Aikman took the Cowboys 62 yards in seven plays for the winning touchdown. A fourth-down pass-interference call on Charles Dimry set Dallas up at the Philadelphia 45.
Then Aikman connected with tight end Eric Bjornson to the Philadelphia 17. Two plays later, Miller, grabbed the ball away from safety Tim Watson in the back of the end zone.
``I was lucky I came down with it,'' Miller said. ``I saw Troy scrambling and just went to an open spot. I thought the ball was going to be intercepted. I was just fortunate.''
Aikman said the ball slipped coming out of his hands.
``I was late with the ball and just decided to take a chance,'' Aikman said. ``It was a better catch than throw. I didn't have a good hold on the ball.''
Watson said he thought he had a pick.
``I thought I had the interception,'' he said. ``Somehow Aikman just got the ball in there.''
Eagles coach Ray Rhodes was stunned.
``It's a shame to waste such great effort,'' Rhodes said. ``There's no excuse for it. I can't think of a more frustrating way to lose. That's something we work on every day.''
The Eagles held Dallas to five field goals by Richie Cunningham before the late rally.
Running back Emmitt Smith summed it up: ``That was a gift, It was nothing incredible that we did. Thanks for the early Christmas present.''
The Eagles won 31-21 on Monday night last year with a bizarre play in Texas Stadium with 3:19 to go.
James Willis intercepted a pass from Aikman 4 yards deep in the end zone, returned it 14 yards, and lateraled to Troy Vincent, who raced 90 yards for the longest interception return in NFL history.
``Usually we come up on the short end of these type of games,'' cornerback Kevin Smith said. ``For once, luck was with us.''
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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