MIDLAND — Shallowater just ran out of magic Friday night.
The Mustangs matched Monahans big play for big play in the Class 3A Division II Region I Final, but in the end, Monahans’ experience and running game proved too much in the second half as the Loboes outlasted the Mustangs 27-20 at Grande Communications Stadium.
Pedro Cano scored on a 26-run with 4:47 remaining, and the Loboes (12-2) stopped the Mustangs (11-3) on fourth down at midfield with under 2 minutes left to seal the win, stopping Shallowater’s deepest playoff run in eight seasons.
“We just had a couple of bad breaks there and against a great team like Monahans you’ve got to get nearly all the breaks,” Shallowater coach Kyle Maxfield said. “We fought and kept fighting until we made some plays, we just came up a couple of plays short.”
Monahans advances to face the winner between Argyle and Gilmer in the state semifinals next week at a time, date and site to be determined.
The Mustangs were seeking their first appearance in the state semifinals since 2003, but Monahans has been in that position several times over the last few years, and that experience showed late in the game.
The Lobos led 20-6 with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter after Byron Scharf’s second touchdown run of the game, a 2-yard run. Normally, that’s when the Loboes put games away.
But the Mustangs came right back after the score with one of their own. Running back Koley King, who rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries, left during the drive with what Maxfield said was a left shoulder injury. But quarterback Brandon Hall ripped off a 36-yard run two plays after the injury then plunged into the end zone from a yard out two plays later to cut the Loboes lead to 20-13 with 7:47 remaining.
Monahans took over on its 37, but on the first play of the drive Scharf fumbled, and last week’s hero, Kade Willis, fell on the ball at the 39. Hall hit Marc Rios for a 34-yard strike to the 5, then kept on the next play into the end zone to tie the game at 20.
“(King’s injury) limited our two-back stuff and that’s what’s been our bread and butter,” Maxfield said, “We had to move some guys around and made some adjustments and I thought we did a good job with that.”
A big return on the ensuing kickoff, however, set the Loboes up at the Shallowater 34. The Mustangs held Monahans to 5 yards on three plays, and quarterback Zach Navarro threw incomplete under pressure on fourth down.
But a holding call on the Mustangs before the pass was thrown gave the Loboes an automatic first down at the Shallowater 29, and two plays later Cano scored on a misdirection around right end, beating the Shallowater defense to the pylon for the game-winning score.
“That just broke our backs,” Maxfield said.
Shallowater, though, wasn’t done. The Mustangs took possession after the kickoff at their 45 and converted a fourth-and-2 to the Monahans 41 on a pas to Rios. But an incomplete pass on second down and a 7-yard loss by Hall on third forced the Mustangs into a fourth-and-long, and Monahans batted away a pass intended for Rios at the 25 with 1:34 remaining.
Shallowater got Monahans into a fourth-and-3 with time winding down, but the Loboes pulled the Mustangs offside to gain the first down, and were able to run out the clock from there.
The Mustangs outgained the Loboes in total yardage 341-300, and the teams combined for 29 points in the fourth quarter after amassing just 18 through the first three periods.
“You’ve got to execute every play and we had some long-yardage plays that put us in position,” Maxfield said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump there.”
Statistically the Mustangs dominated the first half, outgaining the Loboes 150-103. Shallowater did a solid job of limiting Monahans’ rushing attack, holding Scharf and Cano to a combined 64 yards on 14 carries.
But the Loboes did just as solid job of limiting Shallowater’s rushing attack. King finished with 81 yards on 12 carries in the first half, but more than half of that came on two runs, the last one going for 25 statistic-padding yards on the final play of the half.
Shallowater was able to hit some big plays in the passing game as Hall went 3 for 6 for 71 yards. But he also had an interception, negated by a pick by Mitch Cuevas three plays later.
Monahans had the first scoring chance but Alejandro Mendoza’s field goal on the opening drive of the game went wide right. Shallowater stopped the Loboes on their next drive, but a 60-yard punt back the Mustangs back to their 7, and on the first play of the ensuing drive Hall mishandled the shotgun snap and fell on it in the end zone for a safety.
The teams traded possessions from there until the Mustangs took advantage of the Lobos turnover to take a 3-2 lead. A 24-yard draw by King got the Mustangs into field-goal range, and Luke Stutler nailed a 38-yarder just over the crossbar to give Shallowater its only lead of the half.
But the lead didn’t last long. With just over 31/2 minutes left in the half, Monahans went from its 32 to the Shallowater 11, getting a big 27-yard catch and run by Cano on a screen to the Mustang 37 followed by a 14-yard run by Freddy Garcia. But a halfback pass attempt by Cano from the 11 on third down was incomplete, and Mendoza came on to hit a 28-yard field goal with 34 seconds left for a 5-3 halftime lead.
To comment on this story:
email@example.com • 766-2166
firstname.lastname@example.org • 766-8700
CLASS 3A DIVISION II REGION I FINAL
At Grande Communications Stadium, Midland
MONAHANS 27, SHALLOWATER 20
Shallowater 0 3 3 14 — 20
Monahans 2 3 7 15 — 27
MON—Safety, Brandon Hall fumbles in end zone; 3:03
SHA—Luke Stutler 38 FG; 3:40
MON—Alejandro Mendoza 27 FG; :34
MON—Byron Scharf 10 run (Mendoza kick); 5:43
SHA—Stutler 25 FG; 1:58
MON—Scharf 2 run (Christian DeAnda pass from Ozzie Lujan); 10:24
SHA—Hall 1 run (Stutler kick); 7:47
SHA—Hall 5 run (Stutler kick); 7:03
MON—Pedro Cano 26 run (Stutler kick); 4:47
First downs 13 16
Rushes-yards 37-138 40-209
Passing yards 203 93
Comp.-att.-int. 8-16-1 4-7-1
Punts-avg. 1-28.0 2-58.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-51 3-20
RUSHING: Shallowater, Koley King 17-102, Brandon Hall 11-26, Jarek Black 9-10; Monahans, Byron Scharf 19-144, Pedro Cano 14-64, Freddy Garcia 3-13, Jackson Scharf 1-1, Zach Navarro 4-(-13).
PASSING: Shallowater, Hall 8-16-1—203; Monahans, Navarro 3-6-1—91, Cano 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING: Shallowater, Marc Rios 4-118, Black 2-39, Tobias Sultan 1-23, Cameron Knight 1-23; Monahans, Garcia 1-41, Cano 1-27, Junior Morales 1-15, Alejandro Mendoza 1-10.