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Monday, Sept. 21, 1998

Eagles scratch by `flea-bitten' Panthers

Staff Writer
Going up and down the field was no problem for the Pecos
Eagles Friday night. But getting into the end zone against
the Fort Stockton Panthers took a little something extra.

`Something' in this case turned out to be a
perfectly-executed flea-flicker play with 2:53 left, that
turned into a 44-yard touchdown pass from Oscar Luna to
Jason Payne and gave Pecos a 7-3 victory over Fort Stockton
at Eagle Stadium.

Facing a 3rd-and-8 from the Panthers' 44, Luna handed the
ball off to Mark Abila, who took two steps into the line
before lateraling the ball back to Luna. The Eagles'
quarterback then threw a perfect strike to Payne, who beat
the Panthers' Jeremy Hickman at the 5-yard line and went
sprawling into the end zone.

"We planned on doing that," said Eagles' coach Dan Swaim.
"We put that play in last Saturday and debated when to use
it all night. We repped it real hard in practice and didn't
know when we were going to use it. But we got lucky enough
to have a chance to use it when we did."

Up until their winning drive, Payne and the Eagles' other
wide receivers had been the forgotten part of Pecos'
offense. The Eagles had stuck pretty much to their running
game, while Luna's throws had been limited to a screen pass
attempt to Abila and a trio of quick first down completions
over the middle to tight end Manuel Contreras.

Contreras figured to be well-covered by the Panthers on the
final series, which began after Payne fair-caught a Michael
Pacheco punt at the Eagles' 19. Pecos then went five yards
backwards, when Jonathan Rojas broke through the line to
nail running back Lucio Florez at the 14.

Faced with a big hole to climb out of, the Eagles went for
it all on second down, as Luna rolled right and then threw
deep, finding Joseph Torres behind two Fort Stockton
defenders just past midfield. But the next play, a screen
pass to Florez, netted only two yards, and Luna then bounced
a pass to Lee Lyles near the Fort Stockton 30 before the
Eagles went to their trick play book on third down.

Luna's last pass to Contreras, on a 4th-and-8 from the
Panthers' 35 early in the final period, had ended with a
questionable non-call on linebacker Willie Woodberry, who
appeared to interfere with the tight end before Luna's pass
at the 25 yard line arrived. It was the latest in a series
of frustrations on offense for Pecos, which only had to punt
once on Friday and ended up gaining 308 yards offense on the

Most of that was on the ground in the first half, but in the
final period the Panthers' big line began to push Pecos
back, and cut off the outside run that had been successful
for the Eagles in the early going. After a 2-for-6 start
with two first half interceptions, Luna wound up hitting
6-of-8 passes for 132 yards in the second half, while also
scrambling for a key first down in the final minutes, after
Abila picked off a Wayne Paugh pass at the Pecos 40 and
returned it to Fort Stockton's 45-yard-line with 2:24 to

"Oscar did a good job throwing the ball tonight," said
Swaim. "It was something we said we would do after last
week, try and throw the ball more, even when we don't need
to, to get those eight-man lines off us."

Luna's most painful decision came in the first quarter, when
he held the ball too long and was picked off by Woodberry,
then got banged up making the tackle at the Fort Stockton
42. It was the first of three first-half turnovers by Pecos,
with the second, a fumble by Jacob Esparza, leading to
Pacecho's 25-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the opening

Pecos held Fort Stockton to just 102 yards rushing and 121
yards overall on the night, but the Panthers had the best
touchdown chances until late in the game. Pressure from the
Eagles' line forced Paugh to put up a flutterball that a
diving Jimmy Lopez just missed in the end zone prior to
Pacecho's field goal, and then in the second quarter Matt
Allen just missed hitting Steven Ramirez with a halfback
option pass, after he had gotten behind the Eagles' defense.

Allen, who had missed most of the first two games with a
sprained ankle, led all rushers with 73 yards, but gained
only 24 in the final two periods, when the Eagles limited
the Panthers to just 30 yards offense overall, and only one
first down, on a 4th-and-1 offsides call against Pecos.

"Our kids did a great job. They came in at halftime and said
they refused to lose," Swaim said. "Defensively, we did a
god job all four quarters."

After allowing 76 points in their first two games, the
defense was also a bright spot for Fort Stockton, despite
the yardage allowed. Pecos came right back after Pacheco's
field goal and drove the ball to a 4th-and-2 at the
Panthers' 13, only to see Esparza stuffed at the line by
Fort Stockton's defense.

The Eagles were knocking on the door again late in the third
period, after a 20-yard pass to Contreras, a couple of runs
by Florez and a spearing call gave Pecos a 1st-and-goal at
the 10. This time, Abila was stuffed at the line on first
down, and after two runs by Luna netted seven yards, Alonzo
Valencia saw his 20-yard field goal try sail wide to the

"Fort Stockton has a good football team. They did a good job
against us," Swaim said of the Panthers, who fall to 0-3 on
the season going into their game next Friday against
Monahans, also 0-3 after a 40-6 loss to Andrews on Friday

The Panthers' opening loss was at home by a 34-14 score to
Crane, who'll host the 2-1 Eagles at 8 p.m. this Friday. The
Golden Cranes broke the 30-point barrier for the third time
in as many games Friday night, as they improved to 3-0 with
a 35-14 homefield victory over Seminole.

All of Pecos' District 2-4A rivals also won Friday, with the
exception of Canutillo, which was idle. Mountain View, which
rallied from a 19-0 first quarter deficit to beat El Paso
Parkland the previous week, stayed undefeated by rallying
from a 17-0 hole in the second quarter against Santa Teresa
to win, 21-17. Parkland, meanwhile, lost again in the
closing seconds, this time to Fabens, 21-20. Clint improved
to 2-1 with a 24-7 victory over El Paso Cathedral and San
Elizario got its first win of the season, shutting out
Deming, N.M., 13-0.

Bears run past Faith Christian, 74-36

The Balmorhea Bears' offense and special teams were in gear
all night, while the Bears' defense got things going after a
slow start Friday in El Paso, as the Bears came up with a
win over the Faith Christian Lions.

Faith Christian stayed with Balmorhea for the first seven
minutes of the game, trailing only by a 14-12 score before
the Bears scored five straight touchdowns to go out to a
32-point lead. The Bears came close to ending the game early
under the 45-point rule, but the Lions took advantage of a
couple of Balmorhea mistakes to return two fumbles for
scores and keep things going all the way to the end of the
fourth quarter.

"Defensively, we did better after the first quarter," said
Bears' coach Ennis Erickson, whose team was idle the week
before. "That hurt us. It's never good to have an off week
like that, but we did all right."

Balmorhea stuck almost exclusively to the running game,
throwing just two passes on the night while running for 393
yards. Travis Woodruff had 37- and 8-yard touchdown runs as
well as an 80-yard kickoff return to start the second half,
while Arturo Miranda had a 60-yard run, a 63-yard
interception return and a 65-yard kickoff return for scores
and Roger Lopez had a 60-yard run and an 8-yard fumble
return for scores.

Overall there were five defensive touchdowns on the night.
Faith Christian had a fumble return of 15-yards just before
the half, cutting Balmorhea's lead to 44-18, then returned
one 40 yards in the final period and had a 15-yard
interception return for a score, after the Bears went up by
58-18 entering the final period.

Keyon Roman had Balmorhea's other TD, a 7-yard run in the
final period, and also added a pair of two-point conversion

"There were some people there scouting, so we kept it as
basic as we could for as long as we could," said Erickson,
whose team faces its toughest two-week stretch of the season
coming up.

The 2-0 Bears will face top-ranked Borden County this
Friday, then play No. 3-ranked Grandfalls the following week
to open District 7-A six man play. Both games are on the
road, and are followed by another bye week before Balmorhea
plays Dell City on Oct. 16, in their first home game of the

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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