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Monday, October 11, 1999

Eagles flag down Wildcats in overtime, 6-0

Staff Writer
FABENS, Oct. 9, 1999 - Call it poetic justice.

In a game where virtually all of the Pecos Eagles' big plays on offense were called back by big penalties, the Fabens Wildcats' only major penalty of the night ends up helping Pecos score a 6-0 overtime victory at Wildcat Stadium, in the District 2-4A opener for both teams.

Six major penalties were called against Pecos on the night, out of 12 overall for 91 yards. But was the interference call against Josh Hernandez on a pass over the middle to tight end Cesar Coria that turned an apparent interception into a 1st-and-10 for the Eagles at the Wildcats' 13-yard-line.

Two plays later Jacob Esparza sailed into the end zone on a leap from four yards out for the first points of the game.

However, the Eagles weren't out of the woods yet. Roy Marta's extra point try was blocked, and on their first play in overtime (with each team starting its series at the 25-yard-line), Vincente Macais found a hole over the right side of the Eagles' line and raced down to the Pecos 4 before being pushed out of bounds by Jason Payne.

That set Fabens up with four chances to score from inside the five, and then add the extra point to win. But instead of going back to Macias, Fabens first tried Joel Garcia through the middle of the line, and he was stopped for no gain, then went with Beto Nunez, who managed just a yard over the right side.

The Eagles then stopped Macias at the three, but were hit with their 12th and final penalty of the night, an offsides call that gave the Wildcats a third down at the 1 1/2 yard line.

This time, coach Ronnie Hernandez went with a run off left tackle by Nunez, but he was stopped by Marta from his defensive end spot at the three. That set up 4th down and this time, Fabens went with a pitch to Macias, running wide to his left. The sophomore, who had already gained 125 yards on the night, headed for the corner, but was tripped up by linebacker Daniel Terrazas and fell just outside the goal line.

Had he scored, it wouldn't have counted, as the Wildcats were hit with what would have been their second major penalty of the night, a holding call. But it would have allowed Fabens one last chance to score - or more, depending on the Eagles' penalty situation, which still had head coach Gary Grubbs upset after the game.

"The honest truth, I expected them to signal touchdown, mark 10 yards off and give them another shot," said Grubbs. "But he made the right call. The kid had the ball in his left hand, and he did hit the pylon with his right shoulder, but the ball wasn't across the goal line."

On a night when they could have used the help, the Eagles' offense and their blocking scheme constantly ran afoul of the referees. Pecos was out-gained by Fabens 206 yards to 133, but of their six major penalties, three called back runs of over 10 yards, and one nullified a 34-yard punt return by Mason Abila.

"I'm proud of our kids. They never quit despite all the obstacles," Grubbs said. "When you get 14 penalties thrown against you in 47 plays (three others against the offense were declined), something's wrong. We would have had 300 yards total offense if we didn't have all those flags."

The penalty on Abila's punt return kept Pecos from getting a 1st-and-10 at Fabens' 29 in the opening period, after a holding call on a sweep wiped out a 17-yard run by Len Carson to the Wildcats' 6-yard-line.

Those turned out to be Pecos' best scoring chances until overtime. Fabens began the game in Eagle territory, after a 54-yard kickoff return by Nunez. But quarterback Rigo Estrada's pass over the middle was deflected by Terrazas to Carson, and then back to Terrazas, who ran the interception out from the Eagles' 23 to the Wildcats' 41.

It was the first of two interceptions for Terrazas, who would pick off Estrada on another pass over the middle in the third period. The linebacker brought in out from the 18 to Pecos' 30, but the Eagles wound up back at the 15 on a clipping penalty on the return.

Fabens also didn't get inside the 15-yard-line until overtime, but had three near misses.

Two came late in the first half, the first when Macias got around the left end and was pushed out of bounds by Carson at the 17. Two plays later Payne was able to knock away a fourth down pass meant for Nunez in the end zone. But the closest call came early in the final period, when Macias found an opening on the right side a broke clear for a 56 yard run, before being hauled down by Payne at the Pecos 24.

This time it was a little - but obvious - penalty that hurt Fabens, as an illegal procedure call set the Wildcats back five yards to the 29. The five yards was costly because on fourth down Hernandez tried a 35-yard field goal that fell about one yard short of clearing the crossbar.

Pecos did do a little better in the second half on offense, after gaining just 39 yards and one first down in the opening quarters. Pecos ended up with 124 yards rushing for the game (as did Fabens), with Esparza gaining 73 of his 87 yards in the second half and overtime.

"We came in at halftime and made some adjustments to see what we could to exploit what they were giving us," said Grubbs. "We had two good drives going, but both times we were hit by penalties."

The Eagles threw just six official passes in the game and none in the second half, until the overtime throw by Alex Garcia that Hernandez picked off after pushing Coria in the back. Because of the interference call, that pass was wiped off Garcia's final total.

Coming on a 2nd-and-9 play the pass wasn't a big surprise, but the target was, since Coria had just been moved from the interior line to tight end this week. "Coach (Elias) Payan saw them playing man coverage with the rover (safety) coming to shift all the way to the trips (triple receiver) side. He thought we could get a ball to the tight end over the middle because of where they were playing," Grubbs said.

The win came in the Eagles first-ever overtime game, and made Pecos the only one of the three favorites in Week 1 of District 2-4A play to earn a victory. Canutillo paid back Clint for a district-opening loss at home last year, beating the Lions in Clint by a 27-21 score, while San Elizario surprised El Paso Mountain View, beating the Lobos, 34-20.

The Eagles, now 3-3 on the season, will be back home to host Mountain View (3-2) next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

at Fabens
Pecos                   0      0     0     0     6    - 6
Fabens                 0      0     0     0     0    - 0

Pec. - Esparza 4 run (kick failed).

                                              Pec         Fab
First Downs                                 7             9
Rushes-Yds                       41-124    35-124
Passing Yds                                9            82
Passes                                 3-6-0   10-24-2
Punts-Yds                          6-35.2     5-30.2
Fumbles-lost                            2-1         1-0
Penalties-Yds                       12-91       7-42

RUSHING _ Pecos, Esparza 23-87, Winfrey 4-14, Carson 8-11, Abila 2-7, A. Garcia 4-5. Fabens, Macias 17-127, Nunez 5-7, Zapitello 1-7, J. Garcia 2-2, Estrada 10-(-19).
PASSING _ Pecos, A. Garcia 3-6-0-9. Fabens, Estrada 10-23-2-82, Macias 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING _ Pecos, Estrada 2-13, Carson 1-(-4). Fabens, Zapitello 4-18, Orozco 2-18, Nunez 2-14, Favela 1-20, Zavala 1-12.
MISSED FIELD GOALS - Fabens, Hernandez 35 (short).

Fabens latest victim of `first game jinx'

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 11, 1999 -- Winning the first game of a volleyball match at the Pecos High School gym is turning out to be the kiss of death this season.

The Eagles did it against the Clint Lions, only to see Clint come back and win the next two games. Then last Tuesday, Pecos was beaten by San Elizario, then came back to defeat the visiting Eagles in three games.

Friday afternoon, it was Fabens' turn to see a first game win turn into a three game loss. The Wildcats, swept by Pecos in Fabens last month, jumped out to a 10-4 lead on the Eagles in an eventual 15-13 victory, and were tied in Game 2, 5-5, before the Eagles took control, scoring 10 of the final 11 points for a 15-6 victory, then jumping out to a 12-3 lead in Game 3 before winning by a 15-7 victory.

"I guess I can't complain. We did play better than we did in Tuesday's match, said Eagles' head coach Becky Granado. "Defensively we were a lot better in the last two games, but we still got burned by their dinks. We got caught out of position a couple of times, and by this time of year we ought to know where we should be."

The Eagles got a strong game from Philonicus Fobbs, who outplayed Fabens' Cynthia Arrieta after the midpoint of Game 1. Fobbs had blocks on Arrieta, Anna Aldaco and Isabella Munoz for points and a kill off an overset to rally the Eagles from 10-4 down to within 14-13, but Fabens was able to break serve and win off a kill by Arrieta.

"Philly did a real good job today," said Granado. Fobbs would have five more points off spikes in the final two games, The Eagles went ahead for good in Game 2 off a pair of kills by Dee Dee Molinar, but did miss taking advantage of a Fobbs kill that smashed off the head of Munoz, giving the serve back moments later off an unforced error.

""I thought we would get fired up after that, but we still dragged," said Granado, who changed to a smaller lineup for the deciding game.

Fabens' last lead was at 2-1 in Game 3 off a couple of Eagle errors. Pecos tied the game on a tip by Kalyn Lara, and serves by Alexa Marquez and Amy Chabarria put the Eagles ahead to stay and were part of an 8-0 run by Pecos, capped off by a Fobbs kill.

Fabens did stage a late comeback, getting to within 12-7 following a tip by Rebecca Garcia, before Ashley Salcido scored off a spike down the line, and Arrieta and Garcia then hit balls into the net, ending the game.

"We saw the tape (of last month's win) and worked on when they were up there at the net hitting it where the holes are," Granado said. "Ashley does a good job of asking where the holes are. She doesn't hit it that hard, but she places the ball well."

The win gives Pecos a 15-9 record and a 4-1 record at the midway point of District 2-4A play, while Fabens fell to 2-4 in district. The Eagles did lose Friday afternoon's junior varsity match by 15-9, 15-9 scores, while no freshman match was played, because of the change in time from Saturday to Friday afternoon due to SAT testing.

The Eagles will now try to play a team they couldn't last month, El Paso Mountain View. They'll face the Lobos for the first time this season on Tuesday at the PHS gym. Last month's game in El Paso was canceled when the officials failed to show up for the games.

Cowboys lose Irvin, lead, game to Philadelphia

AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 11, 1999 -- Charles Johnson slumped against a wall in the hallway at Veterans Stadium, smiling widely while doing a telephone interview.

Doug Pederson walked by and offered a playful jab: ``Is that the president?''

No, but a touchdown for the Philadelphia Eagles sure seemed enough to warrant a call from the Oval Office. A victory over the archival Dallas Cowboys was unthinkable.

Somehow, both happened on Sunday. Pederson connected with Johnson on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 67 seconds left as the previously clueless Eagles came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Dallas 13-10.

The Eagles (1-4) awakened from a slumber that saw them go 18 quarters, 57 possessions and two days shy of a month without an offensive touchdown. They had lost 20 of 23 games and got their first victory since Dec. 3, 1998.

``It feels great,'' Johnson said. ``I was getting tired of facing the media every week. ... A lot of people have taken a lot of heat.''

Now, it is the Cowboys' turn. Dallas (3-1) saw its best start since winning the Super Bowl in 1995 go awry against an Eagles team that had shown itself to be utterly futile in its first four games and three quarters under coach Andy Reid.

The Cowboys were erratic on offense after losing Michael Irvin, their career receiving leader and five-time Pro Bowl selection, to a scary neck injury in the first quarter.

Irvin's head hit the turf awkwardly as he was tackled after an 8-yard reception late in the first quarter. He was taken to the spinal trauma unit of Thomas Jefferson Hospital, where tests showed he had swelling in the spine near the base of the neck but could move his arms and legs.

Incredibly, many fans cheered while Irvin lay on the artificial turf for about 15 minutes late in the first quarter. It was enough to anger Johnson after the game.

``I know our fans pride themselves on being tough, but that wasn't tough,'' said Johnson. ``That was just plain ignorant. ... I was embarrassed to stand on the sideline.''

``Some people need to grow up,'' an angry Emmitt Smith said. ``Some people need to grow up and find some inner peace, because there is no peace in watching somebody suffer.''

After Norm Johnson's 48-yard field goal cut it to 10-3 with 11:48 left, the Eagles stopped Dallas on third-and-18 from the Philadelphia 41.

Pederson connected with Johnson for 36 yards down the middle. But rookie lineman Doug Brzezinksi's holding penalty wiped out a screen pass to Duce Staley that would have tied the game. Instead, the Eagles settled for a 31-yard field goal that cut it to 10-6 with 5:42 left.

The Eagles stuffed Smith on second-and-2 and third-and-2 inside the Dallas 40. Toby Gowin shanked a 28-yard punt out of bounds, setting up the winning touchdown drive.

``I was really disappointed that we couldn't make 2 yards,'' Cowboys coach Chan Gailey said.

On third-and-7 with the clock winding toward the one-minute mark, Pederson zipped pass to Johnson on a slant route. Johnson split the Dallas zone, caught the ball at the 10 and sprinted to the goal line, diving for the elusive touchdown.

So stunned was Johnson that he scored, he said, ``I got up and started looking for a flag or something. You don't want to get all excited for nothing.''

Bobby Taylor's interception of a desperately scrambling Troy Aikman sealed the victory with 39 seconds left, setting off a rare victory celebration at the Vet.

``I'm going to get a big cheeseburger tonight,'' said Reid, who got his first victory as a head coach.

Aikman was 21-for-39 for 177 yards and two interceptions. Smith had 114 yards on 30 carries, but lost a fumble at the Eagles 1-yard line late in the first quarter.

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