Stangs trample Buffaloes
By Van Wade
The Orange Leader
PORTER – Running an offense that was smooth as silk and a defense that continues to overwhelm opponents, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs punched their ticket to the Class 4A Division II State Semifinals by blasting the Giddings Buffaloes 48-5 in the Region III Finals Friday night at Texan Drive Stadium.
The defending Class 4A Division II state champion Mustangs (14-0) dominated the Buffaloes (11-3) in every phase of the game as WO-S played their sixth straight Regional Final game in as many years.
The Mustangs move on to face Geronimo Navarro (14-0) in the State Semifinals next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans. Navarro defeated Cuero 35-21 Friday.
“It’s so great to be in our sixth straight Regional Final and that’s a credit to the great kids and staff we have here,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “Every week is a new challenge and we’re glad to have one. There’s only four teams left. For us, we get the right to play 48 more minutes, that’s the way we have to approach. That Navarro bunch is potent, they have to be to beat a team like Cuero.”
The Mustangs piled up 408 yards of total offense and they spreaded the wealth around with all of their weapons.
Meanwhile, The Chain Gang Defense limited the Buffaloes to just 146 total yards.
Mustang quarterback Jack Dallas passed for 184 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three more scores.
Jeremiah Shaw zipped for 67 yards and a TD on eight carries and hauled in a 51-yard TD pass. Kavyn Cooper ran for 75 yards and a TD on just four carries.
KJ Miller had two catches for 68 yards and a score while Keion Hancock had 50 yards receiving and 45 yards rushing on just four total touches.
“I tell you, we’re blessed to have the athletes that we have,” said Thompson. “We’ve got so many kids we can get the ball too and we’re hard to figure out for our opponents. We made some really big plays
both in the running and passing game. We want to keep teams off-balance and second-guessing it and we’re doing a fine job of it.”
Giddings was led by Chabastin Taylor. Taylor, who ran out of the Wildcat Quarterback spot most of the night, finished with 100 yards on 23 carries. The Mustangs held running back Jason James to 32 yards on 13 carries.
The Mustangs led 27-5 at intermission despite having the ball just 6 minutes and 44 seconds, due in part to big offensive plays.
The Buffaloes got on the board first thanks to a couple Mustang miscues to start the game.
Regular Mustang starting center Ryan Ragsdale was out with an injury.
Back-to-back snaps on the Mustangs’ first series were snapped over Dallas’ head, the first one was a 20-yard loss and the second one was a 21-yard loss that sailed into the end zone that Dallas was able to get it out of bounds for a safety as Giddings led 2-0 with 11 minutes left in the first quarter.
“It was a tough start, with the conditions and all,” said Thompson. “I must say that Paul Ivory stepped in there and settled in at center after that sequence and played well the rest of the way. Really proud
of that young man.”
The Buffaloes then got good field position at the WO-S 46 and were able to chew off a little over seven minutes off the clock with 11 plays. Taylor carried eight times for 31 yards, picking up a couple first downs.
However, the Mustang defense rose up and forced the Buffaloes into a 22-yard field goal by Jessie Portales with 3:43 in the first quarter.
The Mustangs firmly got off the deck on their next possession as they traveled 59 yards in eight plays to take the lead.
Dallas connected with KJ Miller for a 14-yard gain to the Giddings 40.
Shaw cut loose for a 16-yard gain and Hancock brought it to the 6 after a eight-yard pickup.
Two plays later, Dallas went off left tackle for a three-yard score.
Chad Dallas drilled the extra-point as WO-S snared a 7-5 edge with 1:36 left in the first.
The Mustangs cashed in on a Buffaloes turnover to go up 14-5 early in the second quarter.
Mustang defensive back Malick Phillips picked off Buffaloes quarterback Rustin Grimm at the Giddings 40 and returned it to the 34.
Three plays later Shaw cut through the heart of the Giddings’ defense for a 29-yard touchdown romp to push the lead to 14-5 with 10:04 in the half.
Getting excellent field position at the Giddings 36 with 7:42 in the half, the Mustangs checked into the end zone again five plays later.
Dallas connected with receiver Jay’len Matthews for a 15-yard gain and back Justin Sibley bulled his way all the way to the 2 with a 24-yard dart. Two plays later, Dallas scored his second three-yard touchdown run, this time off right tackle, to give the Mustangs a 21-5 edge with 5:46 in the half.
The Buffaloes managed a nice 11-play drive that started from their own 25 that got all the way down to the Mustang 13 behind the legs of Taylor. However, the Buffaloes turned it over on a fumble with a bad
exchange between Taylor and James at the Mustang 17 with 1:06 in the half.
The Mustangs were not through, as they found the end zone again right before the half with two explosive plays.
First, Hancock broke loose around the right side for a 37-yard gain to the WO-S 49. Three plays later on third-and-10, Dallas scrambled to the right and then found a wide open Shaw along the left side after Shaw sneaked out of the backfield and away from Giddings defenders.
Dallas hit Shaw in stride and Shaw did the rest, cruising 51 yards for the touchdown, pushing the lead to 27-5 with 0:29 in the half.
The Mustangs finished with 191 yards in the half while Giddings had 120.
Dallas was 4-of-8 for 90 yards. Shaw had five carries for 54 yards and the big 51-yard reception while Hancock had 45 yards on two totes.
Taylor had 87 yards on 19 carries while James had 27 yards on nine carries.
The Mustangs ate up a little more than five minutes on their first series of the third quarter to find the end zone again by zipping 68 yards in eight plays.
The huge play came when Dallas teamed up with Hancock on a deep ball that Hancock made a great leaping catch over a Giddings defender for a 40-yard gain to the Buffaloes 13. Three plays later, Dallas cashed in on is third running touchdown with a one-yard sneak, pushing the lead to 34-5 with 3:30 left in the third.
After stuffing the Buffaloes on fourth down at the Giddings 47, the Mustangs struck for another huge play to get on the scoreboard again.
A perfectly executed screen play was called on third-and-18 from the Mustang 48 when Dallas hit Miller over the middle and the speedy senior did the rest, outrunning a pair of Giddings defenders for a
54-yard score to make it 41-5 with 11:40 remaining.
After another Giddings three-and-out the Mustangs struck gold again when Cooper took a pitch around the right end and bolted 60 yards for a touchdown gallop, making it 48-5 with 9:24 left.
In the other two regional finals, Gilmer (13-1) took down Celina 43-17 in Region II while Sweetwater (12-1) toppled Seminole 38-14.