Monday, October 27, 1997
'Gift' TDs from Eagles help Mustangs get win
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Oct. 27 -- With a 35 game winning streak in regular season play going into Friday night's game, the Sweetwater Mustangs didn't really deserve any charity from the Pecos Eagles. But that's what they got in the first 6½ minutes of play, when the Eagles dug themselves into a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.
Pecos allowed Sweetwater eight yards rushing and 30 yards passing in that span, but found themselves trailing by a 21-0 score. The Eagles then almost climbed out of that hole in the second quarter, but saw the second-ranked Mustangs regain control with a late first half touchdown and two third quarter scores, on the way to their 36th straight regular season win.
"After watching the film, I know we didn't win, but we had them in the second quarter," said Eagles' coach Mike Belew, after the Mustangs downed the Eagles by a 41-18 final score, despite a 211-yard passing performance by quarterback Jason Abila, part of a 306-yard offensive night by the Eagles.
The senior hooked up with Oscar Luna in the second period for a 35-yard touchdown pass, one play after a 20-yard TD connection between the two was nullified by offensive pass interference.
The Eagles stopped Sweetwater on their next series when Abila picked off a Andrew Boartight pass at the goal line, and he then found Orlando Matta for a 55-yards completion, down to the Mustangs' 18-yard-line. But this time, Pecos couldn't overcome another offensive pass interference call, and after Abila lost the snap on fourth down at the 20, Mustang halfback Willie Amos found Brand Barnes over the middle for a 60-yard option pass, setting up Amos' 9-yard scoring run one play later.
Barnes did as much as anyone to take the game away from Pecos. He took a handoff from Scott Rhodes on the opening kickoff and raced 92-yards for the score, then caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Boatright on 4th-and-15 after Sweetwater recovered a Richard Gutierrez fumble moments earlier.
In between, Gutierrez' attempted third down quick kick was blocked and recovered for a touchdown by Dominic Solis. It came following a 47-yard punt by Barnes, after the Eagles' defense stopped Sweetwater on downs.
"You've got to stay in your lanes, and we didn't stay in our lanes," Belew said about Barnes' kickoff return. "The second touchdown was a lack of execution. We called a quick kick inside the 10, but Richard just kicked the ball low."
Barnes' two big catches could be attributed in part to the Eagles' depleted secondary. Strong safety Moses Martinez was sidelined by a knee injury, while free safety Mark Abila quit the team, along with backup fullback Hector Garcia, last Monday.
"The ones we have in now just need to get the reps (repetitions) the other guys got. They just haven't bee out there as long," said Belew, who added that Jason Abila was also hampered by a wrist injury at his cornerback slot.
"Jason had a great game. He was in on all the offensive plays and almost every defensive play. He threw the ball well and had an interception, ad defensively he may not have played as good as in the past, but he was playing with a bad wrist.
Defensively, the Eagles allowed Sweetwater 305 yards, 202 of that on the ground. Most of that again was to the outside, as it had been a week earlier against Andrews, with Boatright running for 90 yards, mainly off option plays.
"We ran an eight-man front on them," Belew said. "We took out the safety and put in the extra down lineman, and did better than I thought we would. That's a tribute to the players and coaches."
Sweetwater's best quarter -- in terms of play if not points -- was the third, when they drove the ball down twice for scores. Boatright scored on a 23-yard run, after a 30-yard gain on the first drive, then had a 15-yard run on the second, followed by a 21-yard gain by Moses Brown, after he bounced off a pair of Eagle tacklers behind the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles gained 169 yards in the first half, but were limited to only a first down pass from Abila to Shawn Fowlkes in the third quarter, before scoring twice in the final period, against a mixture of first- and second-team Mustang defenders.
"In the third quarter we had some lapses, but in the fourth quarter we played well," Belew said. "This is one time where I think the score doesn't indicate hat kind of game it was."
Luna was able to pull in a ball the popped in the air for a 29-yard gain, and Gutierrez had a 10-yard run on the Eagles' first scoring series of the final period, which was capped by Abila's three-yard quarterback draw. Then with under two minutes to play he found Jason Payne in the back corner of the end zone for his first catch of the year and the Eagles' third TD of the night.
Sweetwater's win lifts them to 3-0 in district and 8-0 overall, going into their game Friday at home against Big Spring. Pecos is 0-3 and 4-4, and close their home schedule Halloween night against San Angelo Lake View.
Second half rally keeps Bears in playoff race
By MAC McKINNON
BALMORHEA, Oct. 27 -- Balmorhea's Bears and the Sanderson Eagles played an old fashioned barn burner as both tried to stay in the District 8-A race for a play-off position in Balmorhea Friday night, with the Bears coming from behind to win 58-44.
Should Sierra Blanca lose again, and Grandfalls beats Sanderson, the Bears would advance since they beat Sanderson. If Sanderson beats Grandfalls, it's all over for the Bears.
This is the second year Sanderson has been competitive in six-man football after coming down from 11-man in 1996. But, they showed Balmorhea that they are a force to be dealt with.
Things didn't look good for the Bears through the first three quarters, as they trailed at one time by 16 points.
The Eagles took the opening kick-off and on the second play from scrimmage, Ray Sanchez skirted right end for 51 yards and the score. The snap from center was bad so the holder, John Kennedy picked it up, scrambled and found Dave Villegas open in the end zone for a one-pointer. Sanderson had the 7-0 lead with only 41 seconds gone in the game.
The Bears came right back and used a grinding ground game, scattering the dust as they plowed downfield from their own 12 to score with Debiasie Mendoza going the final 12 yards. The try for PAT was no good leaving Sanderson ahead 7-6 with 5:51 left in the quarter.
Good crowds backing both schools knew they were going to witness a classic struggle.
The Eagles took their next possession and moved downfield quickly, most of it on a 55-yard pass from Jesse Martinez to Tyler Cantu. Several plays later, Ray Sanchez went the final yard to score. The try for PAT was no good and Sanderson held a 13-6 lead with 4:04 left in the first.
The Eagles scored again on their next possession, moving from their own 37 with Kennedy going the final 20 yards. The try for PAT was blocked by Bear Ryan Clark, leaving the score at 19-6 and 1:34 left in the first stanza.
The Bears countered quickly, moving from their own 32 with Arturo Miranda taking the final six steps and Zane Rhyne adding the PAT, closing the Eagle lead to 19-14 with 9:39 left in the second quarter.
Miranda recovered an Eagle fumble shortly after that at the Bear 31 but the Bears couldn't move. The Eagles were left in good field position at their own 39 and moved in on the first play after that on a perfectly executed option to Martinez for 41 yards and the score. Again the PAT snap was bad, but Kennedy scrambled and passed to the kicker, Juan Luis Ponce, for the extra point. Now the Eagles led 26-14 with 5:59 left in the first half.
The Bears fumbled on their next possession and it was recovered by Villegas at the Eagle 15. As they moved downfield, the Bears Rhyne stepped in front of an Eagle pass at his own goal line and intercepted it but field position was not good. Several plays later, Debiasie Mendoza was tackled in the end zone for a safety and now the Eagles led 28-14 with 4:30 left in the half.
The Bears defense began to stiffen and hold the Eagles. Balmorhea got the ball back at their own 24 and moved downfield to score with Mendoza passing to Miranda for 34 yards. In the meantime, the Bear deep snapper, Patrick Craven had been injured and the Bears had trouble with snaps on extra points. This one was no good because of a snap over the kicker's head and the Bears now trailed by 28-20 with 2:15 left in the first half.
In the second half, Balmorhea got the ball first and couldn't move with the Eagles taking over at the Bear 29. They quickly took advantage of that good field position and scored a few plays later on a 16 yard run by Ray Sanchez. Ponce added the PAT, giving Sanderson a 16-point lead 36-20 with 7:57 left in the third quarter.
Balmorhea started at their own 33 and answered the Eagle score, with Billy Lozano going seven yards for the TD. The PAT was no good, leaving the Bears behind 36-26 with 6:08 left in the third period.
The Bears would stop Sanderson, and then drive the ball back from their own 18 to score. Bear fans saw a cousin connection complete the drive, as Debiasie Mendoza passed 21 yards to Manny Mendoza for the score. The PAT was blocked by Villegas, making the score 36-32 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
That same cousin connection worked on the Bears next possession as they took their first lead of the night. The drive started from the Eagle 27, and the pass covered 25 yards. Try for PAT was blocked but now the Bears were in the lead 38-36 with 23 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Fans were on their feet screaming as Sanderson took the ball from their own 26 and moved in to score on a 1-yard dive by Mike Sanchez. Ponce added the PAT, giving the Eagles back the lead at 44-38 with 8:03 left in the final period.
On the first play from scrimmage after the kick-off, Debiasie Mendoza passed to Miranda on a play that covered 50 yards for the score and that tied up the game at 44. In the excitement, the Bears were penalized 15 yards for celebrating so the extra point was going to have to come from 18 yards out. The cousin connection worked again at Debiasie Mendoza hit Manny Mendoza for the extra point and the Bears were clinging to a one point lead 45-44 and there was still 7:46 left in the game.
Balmorhea stopped Sanderson, then got some insurance on their next possession as they moved from the Eagle 37 with Debiasie Mendoza going the final eight yards. In order to have an 8-point lead and because of snapping problems, the Bears went for one point on a run and Miranda was successful in that effort to put the Bears up 52-44 with 4:04 to go.
The Bears would stop the Eagles again and go in for the score, with Miranda getting the TD on a 4-yard run. The PAT effort was blocked but now the Bears held a 58-44 lead and only 2:15 remained in the game.
The Bears stopped the Eagles next drive on a fumble wrestled away by Miranda at the Eagle 37. The Bears didn't move and the Eagles got it back but time ran out.
Balmorhea is idle this week as they await help in getting to the playoffs. The end the regular season on Nov. 7 at Buena Vista.
Lake View downs Pecos to claim second
PECOS, Oct. 27 -- Before the Pecos Eagles leave for their bi-district playoff game against El Paso High this Saturday, you can be sure head coach Becky Granado will be sure the number of players the Eagles bring matches the number of uniforms they take a long.
Pecos was one uniform -- and as a result one player short on Saturday, in their final regular season match, at San Angelo Lake View. And the Maidens were able to pull away from the Eagles at the end both the first and second games, scoring 15-11, 15-12 wins to claim second place in the District 4-4A standings.
The win will send Lake View up against El Paso Bowie in their bi-district matchup, while Pecos will take on El Paso High this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Van Horn, with the winner going to to face Lamesa in the area round.
The Eagles were one setter short for Saturday's match, which Granado said hurt their offense. "Annette (Marquez) forgot her uniform, and when you practice with a certain lineup and something like that happens, the girls needed to readjust."
Granado said LaCrisha Molinar did a good job taking Marquez' place, but said overall, her setters still need to work on moving the ball around better.
"Our setters need to realize that if they set it to certain girls, once they hit it into the net or out they've got to move it around to the other girls," she said.
Pecos scored seven of the first eight points in the opener, then saw Lake View rally, scoring eight straight points to turn a 10-5 deficit into a 13-10 lead. "We looked good at the beginning, but it's been like that all season. We make one mistake, and don't know how to forget about it and the other team will score seven or eight points in a row."
In the second game, it was Pecos rallying from 4-1 and 9-6 deficits to take the lead, only to watch San Angelo run off four straight points to again grab a 13-10 advantage on the way to the victory.
The loss left Pecos with the same district record as a year ago, 6-4, and with a 17-11 season mark. San Angelo improved to 25-5 on the season, and 8-2 in District 4-4A.
Lake View also won Saturday's junior varsity match, 15-12, 7-15, 15-5. The Eagles' freshman team did not play Saturday because San Angelo's ninth grade squad was in a city tournament.
Eagles swimmers 2nd, 4th at Abilene meet
PECOS, Oct. 27 -- The Pecos Eagles added a few more swimmers for their second meet of the season over the weekend in Abilene. But even with the extra help, coach Terri Morse was still surprised by her teams' high finishes at the Abilene Invitational.
Pecos' boys beat out Abilene Cooper for second place, while the girls finished fourth overall in their division on Saturday.
"The kids did a terrific job. There were 447 swimmers there, and it was standing room only, so they fared better as a team than I expected," Morse said.
"I only took eight boys over there, so I was certainly surprised as a team they did so well," she said. The Eagles again failed to come up with a first place finish, but earned six second place medals, while the girls got their fourth place team total despite not placing higher than fourth in any event.
Kevin Bates had two silver medals, in the 100 yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke, while Kenneth Friar and Al Tillman earned one apiece in the 200 free and the 100 breaststroke respectively. The three, plus Matt Ivy, were also second in the 200 medley relay, and Friar, Bates, Ivy and Grant Holland did the same in the final event of the day, the 400 freestyle, which allowed the Eagles to beat out Cooper for second, by a 204-201 margin.
"I knew we would have some good swims individually, but I wasn't sure we'd be able to place as high. It certainly says something about the quality of our swimmers and where we are right now," Morse said.
Tillman was also 15th in the 50 freestyle; Ivy was fifth in the 200 free and sixth in the 100 butterfly; Friar was ninth in the 100 free; Holland was fifth in the 100 breaststroke and 19th in the 100 free; Timothy Harrison was 10th in the 500 free and 17th in the 200 free; Vincent Breuls was 19th in the 100 breaststroke and 54th in the 50 free, and Scott Pounds was 29th in the 50 free after placing 11th in one meter diving on Friday. The Eagles' 200 freestyle relay team finished 12th in that event.
The girls' top finishes came from Liz Parent, who was fourth in both the 100 freestyle and the 200 individual medley, and Megan Freeman, fourth in the 100 fly. Parent, Freeman, Sarah Flores and Dionnie Munoz also placed fourth in the 200 freestyle relay.
Munoz was sixth in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 100 backstroke; Freeman was ninth in the 50 free; Flores was ninth in the 200 medley and 11th in the 100 breaststroke; Randy Key was eighth in the 100 fly and 25th in the 500 free; Jamie Corson was 10th in the 200 free and 12th in the 100 backstroke; Kelly Bagley was 21st in the 100 back and 39th in the 50 free; Briar Prewit was 27th in the 100 free and 32nd in the 50 free; Jennifer Martinez was 28th in the 100 free and 41st in the 50 free; while Maribel Pena placed 18th on Friday in one meter diving. The girls' 200 medley relay team was eighth and the 400 free relay squad was seventh.
San Angelo Central won both divisions, the girls by a 422-229 margin over Amarillo High, with Abilene High third, at 213 points. Pecos' 192 point total was 18 points better than Big Spring and Odessa High, who tied for fifth. Central's boys won with 468 points, while Abilene High was fourth behind Pecos and Cooper, with 161 points.
The Eagles will take the next two weeks off, before returning to action at home in the Pecos Invitational on Nov. 15.
Renteria's single lets Marlins hook the big one
By RONALD BLUM
Coming oh so close and falling oh so far.
The exuberance of youth fulfilling dreams.
A curse seemingly dooming one of baseball's oldest teams to unending failure.
It was one of the great ones Sunday, a seventh game of the World Series going to extra innings for only the fourth time. And in the end, eight months after the season's start, baseball had its youngest champion, a Cuban defector who relished in rewards and reunion all at once, and a team that just couldn't believe what slipped through its hands.
``I guess every little boy imagines this might happen at one time. It's a total fantasy for me,'' Marlins manager Jim Leyland said after Florida's incredible 3-2, 11-inning victory over Cleveland.
A fantasy for one team was a nightmare for another.
Two more outs. That was all Cleveland needed in the ninth inning to wrap up its first World Series title since 1948.
But singles by Moises Alou and Charles Johnson, and Craig Counsell's sacrifice fly tied the score against Jose Mesa in the ninth. And Tony Fernandez's error in the 11th set up a Edgar Renteria's game-winning hit off Charles Nagy.
In just their fifth season, the Marlins had won it all, the fastest title ever for any franchise in the majors. The $89 million they spent on free agents last winter showed money can buy success in baseball these days.
``I'm very disappointed that we lost. I can't describe how disappointed,'' Indians manager Mike Hargrove said on his unhappy 48th birthday. ``I don't really know what to tell the team, other than they played hard all year long.''
Only once had baseball's season been stretched this far, in 1924, when the Washington Senators beat the New York Giants in the 12th inning of Game 7. The tension in extra innings was immeasurable. Players knew even the tiniest mistake could blow it apart -- just look at the way Cleveland right fielder Manny Ramirez nearly let Alou's two-out, two-on fly in the 10th pop out of his glove.
``I was too nervous to watch,'' Florida first baseman Jeff Conine said. ``I don't think you can find a better finish than that.''
The World Series had been bashed for 10 days: The Marlins were a wild-card team than finished nine games out of first; the Indians, at 86-75, had just the fourth-best record in the American League; neither team could manage a well-pitched game; television ratings were at an all-time low.
Well, all of that was true. Yet none of it mattered Sunday night.
Players and fans spend their entire lives hoping for night like this. Most never make it.
``We haven't given up all year,'' Leyland said, ``and tonight wasn't a night to give up.''
Fernandez had the biggest turnaround of all. His two-run single off Al Leiter had put Cleveland ahead in the third. Jim Thome walked, Marquis Grissom singled and Jaret Wright moved the runners over.
For most of the night, it appeared Wright would become the first rookie to win Game 7 since Babe Adams led Pittsburgh over Detroit 8-0 with a six-hitter in 1909.
He gave up two hits in 6 1-3 innings. One of them turned out to be critical -- a leadoff homer by Bobby Bonilla in the seventh. Because of what happened in the ninth, none of what Wright did mattered.
``My performance is separate,'' Wright said. ``It's a team. We go out there together. Next year, there'll be a fire to go out there and celebrate like the Marlins did tonight. All you can do now is wait.''
Peete proud of Philly's `ugly' win
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 27 (AP) -- While a woozy Troy Aikman struggled to make sense of it all, Rodney Peete made something crystal clear to Philadelphia Eagles fans who don't want him to be their quarterback.
``They should know that I haven't lost a game at home that I've started and finished,'' said Peete after running his record in such circumstances to 9-0 in the Eagles' comeback 13-12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The trend bodes well for Philadelphia, which plays four of its next six games at Veterans Stadium. And it gives Peete a strong foundation as he builds his case to remain a starter.
Since taking over from an inconsistent Ty Detmer last week, Peete has played poorly most of the time, then well enough at the end to eke out two close victories.
``We did struggle for three and a half quarters, but .. as long as we're in striking distance, I feel very comfortable about our chances of winning,'' said Peete, who finished 13-for-31 for 126 yards.
That the Eagles were still within striking distance, trailing only 9-3 going into the fourth quarter, is a testament to Philadelphia's defense, which knocked Aikman out of the game in the first quarter, and Dallas' continuing inability to produce touchdowns.
The Cowboys defense did their part. It limited the Eagles to 81 yards in the first half, only 23 on the ground.
And Dallas' special teams came through, setting up three scores with two long kickoff returns and nearly blocking a punt that instead traveled only 8 yards.
The Cowboys offense enhanced that excellent field position -- until the end zone came close into view. Then, as they have often during the season, the Cowboys froze.
On their first drive, the light turned red at the Eagles 8, and Richie Cunningham kicked the first of his four field goals.
On their second scoring drive, the stop sign materialized at the Eagles 6, and Cunningham trotted out to pad the lead.
A missed field goal by former Cowboy Chris Boniol once again gave Dallas good field position late in the first half. Again, after the Cowboys stalled at the Eagles 18, Cunningham connected, but instead of the 21 points the dominating Dallas offense would have had in its heyday, it had only nine.
``When there was a situation where they were already in field goal position, we were thinking, `We'll give them the three, but that's it,''' said Rhett Hall, who recorded 3½ of the Eagles' six sacks.
The temptation is to blame the loss of Aikman, who suffered a sore neck and a concussion when he took a helmet-to-helmet blow. But even with Aikman, Dallas entered the game getting touchdowns on only 32 percent of its drives inside the opponent's 20.
``With Troy going down, that's a big shot to the offense, but I thought Wade Wilson stepped in and did a good job,'' said Emmitt Smith, who ran for 126 yards. ``We actually beat ourselves. We didn't execute when it counted.''
Why? ``If I knew the answer to that, I could conquer a lot of the problems that this world has,'' Smith replied.
After Boniol finally put the Eagles on the board with field goals late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, the Cowboys once again had a chance to score that elusive touchdown.
Once again, they got down to the Eagles 6. Only this time, they put it in reverse, losing 20 yards before -- surprise -- settling for Cunningham's fourth field goal.
``We moved the ball backwards,'' coach Barry Switzer fumed. ``We moved it better the other way.''
It was up to Peete and the Eagles to show the Cowboys what a touchdown looked like, and they did.
An 11-yard, 2-inch pass to Irving Fryar on fourth-and-11 kept alive a drive that ended with rookie tight end Chad Lewis' only reception, an 8-yard touchdown catch with 45 seconds left.
``We knew Irving Fryar was going to draw a lot of attention, and we never throw to the tight end,'' Rhodes said. ``It was a great call by (offensive coordinator) Jon Gruden.''
The Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins are now all 4-4, 1½ games behind the surprising New York Giants in the bunched-up NFC East.
Both teams talked about the playoffs, with Switzer providing a blueprint for his team: ``Win four at home and win a couple on the road.'' Easier said than done for the Cowboys, who are 1-4 outside Texas this year.
``We had to get to .500 at the halfway point,'' Eagles safety Michael Zordich said. ``Now that we're there, the door is wide open.''
San Angelo Standard Times
Abilene Reporter News
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dallas Morning News
Texas Press Association
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.