The Orange Leader
The West Orange-Stark Mustang Chain Gang Defense rose up once again Friday night.
That means that the Lorena Leopards will be sore all weekend.
The Mustangs forced Lorena into four turnovers and stopped them four different times on fourth down and limited the Leopards to just 159 total yards as WO-S recorded its ninth shutout of the season, this time 28-0 in the Class 3A Region III Division II semifinals at Waller Stadium.
Next up for the Mustangs (13-0), a Region III Finals date with top-ranked Navasota (13-0) next week. The Rattlers tripped up La Marque 31-20 Friday night in the other regional semifinal.
The Mustangs limited standout Lorena junior quarterback Harris Coleman to just 73 yard yards on a stunning 33 carries. Coleman also tossed three interceptions, one of them returned 73 yards for a touchdown by Deionte Thompson and he also fumbled to lead WO-S to another score.
Coleman was just 7-of-16 for 54 yards. Coleman had more than 1,800 yards rushing and 1,600 yards passing entering the game.
“The kids set the tone early with outstanding defense,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “I tell you what, we beat a pretty hard-nosed, talented football team tonight. When you reach this level, you’re playing no slouches. There was some hitting going on tonight. That Coleman kid is tough as nails but he’s going to be sore in the morning. We’re going to have a few guys sore too because that young man was a load to bring down.”
The Mustangs picked up 318 efficient yards against the Leopards (10-3).
Quarterback Jimmy Salter completed 8-of-14 passes for 107 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown dart to standout receiver J’Marcus Rhodes. Salter also ran for another score.
Mustang tailback Abear Simien had another outstanding, tough game. He churned out 83 yards on 18 carries. Salter did have 48 yards on 12 totes.
“Offensively, we did some good things,” said Thompson. “We had some penalties that stalled us there in that first quarter but they battled back. We moved the ball on the ground pretty well when we had too and Jimmy made a couple nice throws, especially that pass to Rhodes over the middle in the third quarter.”
On the second play of the second half, Thompson came up huge again for the Mustangs, picking off a Coleman pass at the WO-S 36 with 11:16 left in the third.
Three plays later, Salter connected with a wide-open Rhodes on a 51-yard touchdown slant pass over the middle, making it a quick 21-0 with 10:11 in the third.
“Deionte had a huge game for us and he’s had a quite a few of those for us this year and sometimes you forget he’s just a sophomore,” said Thompson. “Then when Jimmy hit J’Marcus with that big pass play, that kinda broke Lorena’s back right there.”
The Mustangs moved from their own 48 to the Leopard 20 with 1:34 in the third but the Leopards blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by Rodrikson Cano.
WO-S cashed in on Coleman’s fourth turnover of the game in the fourth period when a host of Mustangs stuffed him and linebacker Joe Lynch fell on the loose leather at the Leopard 31 with 9 minutes remaining in the game.
Five plays later, Quinton Tezeno scored from 20 yards from the Wildcat quarterback spot, barreling through the middle for a 20-yard romp, making it 28-0 with 6:25 left.
Now the Mustangs can turn their attention to the No. 1-ranked Navasota Rattlers.
“One thing for sure, Navasota is ranked No. 1 for a reason,” said Thompson. “They’re the real deal. But you know what, we’ve got a pretty darn good little old football team ourselves. I know one thing, we’re going to have to have the best week of preparation we’ve had all year coming up next week. That’s what high school football is all about, two 13-0 teams getting after it. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
WO-S held Lorena to just 72 total yards in the first half. Coleman rushed for 33 yards on 16 carries but had a crucial interception that Thompson took back 73 yards for a score. He completed 5-of-9 passes for 23 yards.
The Mustangs stifled the Leopards in WO-S territory three times in the first half and Thompson made Lorena pay with 7:12 left in the half when he picked off a Coleman pass at the Mustang 27 and showing great speed, went 73 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown.
“I kinda saw the whole thing coming at me in slow motion,” said Deionte Thompson. “We saw that formation they were running and worked on it in practice all week. Once I saw the receiver come into motion towards my side, I knew what was coming. I hit the spot, caught the ball and saw nothing but wide-open field. I was so glad nobody caught me. I didn’t think they would because I had my adrenaline flowing.”
Cano booted the extra-point as the Mustangs snagged the 7-0 lead.
The Chain Gang held firm at the 3:55 mark of the half when they stuffed Coleman on a fourth-and-1 keeper at the Mustang 35.
The WO-S offense promptly countered with a superb, 12-play, 65-yard scoring march.
The big play came on fourth-and-6 from the 50 when the Mustangs completed a perfectly-executed fake punt. Punter/receiver Rhodes connected with standout defender and jack-of-all-trades Colin Janice on a 20-yard connection that got down to the Leopard 30.
Simien fan for 24 hard yards on four carries on the march. Salter also connected on a 11-yard pass to Rhodes that got down to the Lorena 10 and then the three-year starting quarterback put the finishing touches on it, zipping around the left side on a 10-yard touchdown keeper to make it 14-0 with just 0:27 left on the clock.
“That fake punt really gave us the momentum and the kids completed it with a touchdown there right before the half,” said Coach Thompson. “We’ve worked on that fake punt quite a bit in practice and it was wide open tonight.”
The Mustangs had 159 yards in the half. Simien muscled his way to 58 yards on 11 carries. Salter was 5-of-9 for 42 yards with Rhodes catching four of them for 25 yards.
WO-S shot itself in the foot in the first quarter with penalties, collecting five for 40 yards.
On their second series of the game, the Mustangs went from their own 34 all the way to the Leopard 16 before a false start penalty hampered the drive. On fourth-and-5 from the 16, WO-S went for it and Salter’s pass attempt by Rhodes was caught, but out of bounds near the goal line.