Marble Falls comes up short
November 09, 2013, 12:00 am by Mark Goodson
Marble Falls gave it its best shot.
The Mustangs outgained Leander, 515 to 386, in total yards, but couldn’t come up with the big play when it counted most in losing a 38-36 showdown with the Lions at Mustang Stadium Friday night.
Leander is in the playoffs again because the Lions scored on a fourth-down play by hard-running sophomore Raymond Gibson with 2:32 left and then stopped Marble Falls with senior defensive back Zach Noska stealing an interception in the end zone on a long strike attempt to Garrett Gray on the Mustangs last drive.
"We both went up for it and he made a play,’’ said Gray, the standout senior receiver for the Mustangs. "We knew we could score, maybe we took the shot too early.’’
Noska’s pick came on a second-and-10 play from the Leander 28 with 1:06 left.
The officials ruled it an incomplete pass after the two athletes made their efforts on the timing pass on a launch to the deep right corner of the end zone, but then gathered to confer and changed the call to an interception.
The Mustangs still had a chance.
The Lions ran off four plays, including a pair of five-yard procedure penalties, to milk the clock. On fourth down, Leander quarterback Brandon Hopp ran out of the end zone for a safety and left two seconds on the clock.
On the free kick, Marble Falls set up its kick return. The Mustangs tried to lateral the ball, three or four times before Leander was able to corral the Mustangs returners.
Marble Falls players were left on the field like a bunch of tumbled bowling pins as the clock struck all zeros.
Leander scored the winning points, going 68 yards in 10 plays..
Gibson carried the ball seven times on the drive and Leander stayed on the ground for the entire drive and ate up four minutes.
With 2:41 left, the Mustangs defense dug in at the one-yard line for a fourth-and-goal play.
The stocky and bruising Gibson took the handoff and ran to his right. Marble Falls flooded the run lane with defenders and made a couple of big hits on Gibson. Gibson stretched toward the goalline on his way down and scored. It was a close call whether his knee was down before he reached out with his right arm with the football cradled in his grip.
Marble Falls ends it season at 4-6 for the second straight year. Leander goes into the playoffs with a 5-5 overall mark and a 3-3 district record. Leander’s win knocks Cedar Park down into the Class 4A Division II bracket.
Marble Falls played big throughout the game, but three turnovers and a big swing in momentum in the third quarter finished off the season for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs led 20-3 at halftime and were outgaining the Lions by a 3-to-1 ratio in yards.
Leander stormed back with a 28-7 run in the third quarter. Gibson was huge with a 44-yard run that sparked the Lions to a quick score on the first possession of the third quarter. Three and a half minute into the third quarter, Leander and scored twice on just seven snaps to cut the lead to 20-17. Hopp hit Michael Lecaros on a 44-yard pass down the middle for the second score of the third quarter for the Lions.
Marble Falls bounced back with Gray scoring on a 9-yard run out of the "Wild Horse’’ formation. The Mustangs covered 75 yards in 15 plays to go up, 27-17, with 3:21 left in the third.
Leander answered quickly with two more touchdowns in the final 1:50 of the quarter.
Hopp hit Michael Epley on a 44-yard pas to cap a four-play, 61-yard drive. With 14 seconds left in the quarter, Leander struck again. The Lions needed just three plays to cover 43 yards after a Marble Falls fumble.
In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs put together another long drive. This time going 75 yards in 12 plays. Wooten was huge on the drive with his scrambles. He scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 15-yard run down the left sideline.
The touchdown and extra point by Alejandro Osornio gave Marble Falls a 34-31 lad with 6:52 left in the game.
Marble Falls scored twice in the air on passes from Wooten to Zuri Buchanan and Gray and Wooten had running touchdowns.
Gray finished rushing nine times for 87 yards and caught nine passes for another 90 yards.
Wooten was 29 of 41 for 327 yards passing and had 11 carries for 45 yards rushing.
Leander advances to the Class 4A, Division I playoffs as the biggest school enrollment wise from District 25-4A.
For complete coverage, please read Tuesday's Highlander.
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