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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


Monday, November 19, 2001

Eagles facing Blue Devils after boys fall to Panthers

The Pecos Eagles will be hoping the home court gives them the same  kind of shooting advantage the Fort Stockton Panthers had in the  second half on Saturday, when the Eagles open their 2001-2002 home boys  basketball schedule with a 7:30 p.m. game against the Presidio Blue Devils.

Pecos' girls also will be opening their home schedule this evening, with a 6 p.m. game against Presidio after taking the weekend off. Both teams will also play freshmen and junior varsity games today, with the ninth graders playing at 4:30 p.m. and the boys JV playing in the old PHS gym at 6 p.m., followed by the girls at 7:30 p.m.

The boys saw their season record drop to 0-2 on Saturday, with an 86-53 loss at Fort Stockton, in a game the Panthers broke open with a 28-6 third period.

"We were only down by seven at the half. What killed us was their shooting 61 percent from the field," coach Tino Acosta said. "In the third quarter they hit eight shots in a row. We had our hands in their face, but they still lit it up."

In contrast, Acosta said, "We shot 32 percent, and that was the difference. We forced turnovers and pressed them pretty good, but we just couldn't hit our shots, while the hit not just lay-ups, but outside jumpers."

B.J. Gonzales was 5-for-6 from 3-point range for the Panthers, and led all scorers with 23 points, while Justin Brians added 15 for Fort Stockton, which improved to 1-1 on the season. Ezra Varela hit Pecos' lone 3-pointer on the day, and led the Eagles with 17 points while Jaime Gomez added 10.

Acosta said the Eagles did run their offense better than in last Tuesday's six-point loss at Monahans, "But when you don't make your shots, you can't get into the press, and when we can't do that, it's going to be a rough day."

Fort Stockton did jump out to a 21-10 lead after one period, but the Eagles were able to put 21 points of their own on the scoreboard in the second period and went into the locker room down 38-31 before the Panthers took control in the third quarter. Fouls also were a problem for Pecos. They committed 27 and fouled three players out while allowing Fort Stockton to go to the line 10 more times on the afternoon.

Acosta added that the Panthers used all of their varsity players, following Fort Stockton's elimination from the Class 3A football playoffs on Friday, while none of the Eagles' basketball players who were on the football team made the trip to Fort Stockton, following Pecos' Class 4A playoff loss on Friday. He also said that some players also would not be suited up for tonight's game against the Blue Devils.

"They've got to come to practice to play, and when they show up, they'll play," Acosta said.

Tonight's games are the first of back-to-back home games for both Pecos teams. The Eagles will host Andrews on Tuesday, though Acosta said the Mustangs' area round football playoff game this weekend against El Paso Riverside could change that, while the girls will take on Fort Stockton tomorrow, after their game with the Blue Devils tonight. The girls come into tonight's game with an 0-1 record, following their 61-46 loss at Crane last Tuesday.

Saturday, boys
PECOS (53)

Sanchez 0 2-3 2; Armendariz 2 5-8 9; Gomez 4 2-3 10; Varela 7 2-5 17; Reyes  0 0-0 0; Mora 1 2-2 4; Saldana 4 0-1 8; Lara 1 1-2 3.  Totals 19 13-22 53.

Brians 7 1-2 15; S. Gonzales 3 4-5 10; Acosta 6 2-2 14; B. Gonzales 8 2-3  23; Sawyer 1 0-0 2; Marquez 2 5-6 9; Rivera 0 0-0 0; Rojas 0 0-0 0; Olrigh 1 3-4 5;  Archer 1 2-2 4; Kreig 1 2-4 4. Totals 30 21-32 86.

Pecos 10 21 6 16 —53

Fort Stockton 21 17 28 20 —86

Three-point goals: Pecos 1 (Varela), Fort Stockton 5 (B. Gonzales 5). Fouled out: Pecos, Armendariz, Mora, Saldana. Fort Stockton, Brians. Total fouls: Pecos 27, Fort Stockton 23.

Matadors, mistakes combine to mow down Eagles

Staff Writer

The Pecos Eagles figured to have trouble with Michael Jefferson  on Friday night, and that worked out as expected. But they also had  trouble with Melvin Lucas, Cedric Sanchez, Kenneth Green, David Brown  and several other El Paso Parkland Matadors in their bi-district  playoff game at Eagle Stadium.

The result was a 45-6 loss to the Matadors, ending the Eagles season in the bi-district round for the fourth year in a row.

"They were a lot more physical than I thought they would be," said Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs. "After watching them on film, our coaches didn't think they would be that physical. But they've got some great athletes.

Pecos had been in their three previous bi-district match-up until the closing minutes, including last year's 31-23 loss at home to Parkland. But this time, two Eagle turnovers were converted into 11 second quarter points by the Matadors, who then scored four second half touchdowns and ended up with 433 yards total offense on the night.

"They've got some kids who have matured since last year. I thought Lucas and Jefferson were better and so were their offensive and defensive lines."

Jefferson, who is expected to play Division I-A college football next season at wide receiver, hurt Pecos once with his speed, but it wasn't on a pass. He burned the Eagles on an option pitch from Lucas early in the second period and zoomed down the right sideline 47 yards for a touchdown, his second of the night.

In the first quarter he caught two passes, including a 19-yarder for a TD from Lucas, but in both cases, the Eagle defenders had him well played, but were beaten out by size instead of speed. The 6-foot-3 Jefferson reached over the head of 5-foot-7 Peter Juarez to pull in a 20-yard pass from Lucas for a first down, and two plays later did the exact same thing to Richard Rodriguez, reaching over the safety for the ball and then keeping his feet inbounds in the back corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

As big as Jefferson's two scores were for the Matadors, the key play of the first half may have been made by Brown one play after the kickoff following his first score. The Matadors' lineman came up from behind Freddy Torres and both knocked him down and stole the ball while he was falling, after an apparent 23-yard option run to midfield by the Eagles' quarterback. It set up Jefferson's 47-yard run four plays later, and instead of the Eagles driving for the tying touchdown, the Matadors suddenly had a 14-0 lead in the span of only 51.3 seconds on the scoreboard clock.

"We'd get them into a 3rd-and-long situation and we'd give up a big play draw or let their quarterback get loose and scramble," said Grubbs. "Our defense really didn't give up the big play, except for that one run. They drove the ball downfield on us."

Pecos was without both starting center Trey Edwards and his backup Jae Ewing on Friday, and that caused another turnover after Jefferson's second score, when Torres failed to get a deep snap operating out of the shotgun, and Parkland's Armon Gutierrez recovered at the 19. The Eagles did get a break when David Henderson's 15-yard touchdown run three plays later was wiped out by a holding call, but Saul Mireles came on to boot a 35-yard field goal, giving El Paso a 17-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Eagles could not get a turnover against Parkland until Torres would hammer Henderson and cause one at midfield in the closing minutes of play _ but that came after Henderson had recorded the third of Pecos' four second half interceptions, with Gutierrez snaring the first two.

The Eagles had two chances in the first half, once when Jefferson dropped the ball on a handoff but had it bounce right back to him at the end of the first period, and the second when Lucas fumbled but recovered the ball after two Pecos players had a chance to fall on it near the Parkland 45-yard-line with about 3½ minutes left in the half.

That play didn't cost Pecos on the scoreboard, but the next missed chance did, when they couldn't recover a bad pitch from Lucas to Henderson in the third period. One play later Lucas dropped back and found a wide-open Green down the slot on the right side of the field for a 23-yard touchdown pass and a 24-0 lead.

That came after Pecos was stopped a yard short of a first down on the opening drive of the third period, after first down runs by Matthew Levario and Torres and a 7-yard gain by Mason Abila set the Eagles up with a 2 nd-and-3 from the Parkland 27-yard-line. But Torres was sacked by Bobby Wren on a busted play, then missed on a pass to Joey Ortega before being knocked out of bounds at the 25 on a fourth down scramble.

The Eagles did have one last chance to get back into the game, after Lucas, playing cornerback let a pass from Torres go through his hands and into the hands of Peter Juarez, who ran 69 yards for a touchdown with 5:22 left in the period. But the try for two failed, and then Pecos attempted an onside kick, which Parkland's Jay Ward held onto despite being hammered by a group of Eagles at midfield. The Matadors then used an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 15-yard run by Jefferson to move inside Pecos' 20, then overcame their own unsportsmanlike flag to score their fourth TD of the night, on a 24-yard quarterback draw by Lucas with 3:21 left in the period.

The draw would burn Pecos again as the fourth quarter began, this time with Sanchez scoring from 20 yards out, after Pecos had failed on a pass off a fake punt attempt at their own 35 yard line. Parkland's final score was set up by a Gutierrez interception of Torres, and came on a 1-yard run by Gus Ortiz, as coach Jerry Walker let his subs play most of the final period.

Rodriguez would come in and ended up seeing three of his four pass attempts intercepted, the first by Gutierrez, the second by Henderson, which the Eagles got back on Torres' hit that caused the fumble, and the final one in the closing seconds of the game, when Edgar Rodriguez picked off a pass meant for Juarez in the end zone, after Pecos had moved the ball down to the Matadors' 8-yard-line.

"This was our biggest game of the year. It's obvious we didn't play that well," said Grubbs.

The Matadors will face the Frenship Tigers, 21-0 winners over Hereford, in the area round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday in Monahans. For the Eagles, their season ends with a 7-4 mark, and Friday's game was probably the team's last in Class 4A after 22 seasons. Pecos is expected to drop down into Class 3A next season, which could actually put them in a tougher football district than they one they've been a part of the past four seasons as a member of District 2-4A.

"It's going to be a tougher district, and the kids have got to dedicate themselves to football as a year-round sport," said Grubbs. "It's going to take them dedicating themselves to getting bigger and faster and to stay motivated not only during the school year but to put in that dedication during the summer. We have a lot of kids doing that, but we need more."

Bears' comeback falls short in 60-59 loss

Staff Writer

What a game.

That pretty much sums up Friday night's Bi-District Championship game between the District 7-A champion Sands Mustangs and the District 8-A Runner-up Balmorhea Bears. When it was over the scoreboard read 60-59.

Unfortunately for Bear fans, Sands owned that one extra point and will advance into the next round of the six-man playoffs against New Home this week.

But it could have gone either way. With 29 seconds left the Bears took the ball away from the Mustangs on the Bear 30 yard line.

For most of the first half, however, it looked like the 45-point rule would end the game with the Mustangs victorious, in a reverse of the team's regular season meeting, when Balmorhea took a 38-6 lead then held on to win, 46-33.

The Mustangs kicked to the Bears to begin the contest and Joe Luis Lopez returned the ball from his own end zone out to the Bear 30 yard line. The Bears went three-and-out and blooped the fourth down punt to the Mustang 25.

On first down Mustang quarterback Jeremy Renteria sucked the Bear defense in with a play action fake and tossed a perfect pass to running back Nate Looney who was streaking down the sideline several steps ahead of the Bear defender.

Looney caught the ball and strolled into the end zone untouched. The points-after kick was good and five plays into the game the Mustangs led 8-0.

The Bear offense came back passing following the kickoff and three first downs later were inside the Mustang 20 when Dusty Floyd intercepted the ball near the goal line and returned it to his own 16 yard line.

After getting stuffed up the middle on first down Sands quarterback tossed the long ball to Floyd this time in what looked like a repeat of their first play of the game.

Floyd was at the Bear 32 when he was dragged down.

He then got the call out of the backfield on the next play and found first down yardage on the ground.

Two plays later Looney took the ball over the right side, broke a tackle and landed in the end zone. The Mustangs missed the points after kick but it looked like the route was on with score at 14-0 with less than four minutes gone in the first quarter.

The first play after the kick off Balmorhea was back in the game when Adriel Roman tossed a pass to Jerry Mendoza. Logan Humphries made a good down field block to spring Mendoza and Balmorhea converted on the points after kick to draw within 6 points.

That was as close as the Bears would get until the last minutes of the fourth quarter.

Sands came back on their next possession and after a short drive Renteria found Floyd again in the end zone and it did not look like Balmorhea could stop the Sands deep passing attack.

Balmorhea fumbled own their own 30-yard line on the next possession and Sands converted that mistake into a touchdown one play later when Renteria handed off to Looney.

Kevin Machuca blocked the points after attempt but Sands led 26-8 and just seconds into the second quarter.

The Mustangs made it 34-8 with five minutes left in the half and it looked like the Bears might be done.

Two plays later, though, Joe Luis Lopez caught a 50-yard pass and was in the end zone. The Bears converted to make it a 34-16 game.

On the next Mustang possession the Bear defense stopped Sands for the first time and the Coach Ennis Erickson sent his offense out gunning for the end zone. Five plays later Jerry Mendoza found Jourmain Matta in the end zone. Balmorhea ran for the extra point and the Bears closed to within 11 points. It was 34-23 when the whistle blew ending the first half.

The second half was a free-for-all.

Both teams scored on the first two possessions of the third quarter. After the second score Balmorhea tried an onsides kick and Ivan Rodriguez recovered the ball on the Sands 35. On second and fifteen yards to go Isaiah Rodriguez took the handoff, juked two Mustangs and was in the end zone to close the gap to 48-43, Sands.

Sands answered with another touchdown to pull away by eleven points.

On the following kickoff Joe Luis Lopez took the kick at his own 10, caught the seam, and ran into the end zone untouched and the Bears were within three points, 54-51.

The Balmorhea defense could not stop the Mustangs, however, and on the next possession Sands made it 60-51.

On the next possession Balmorhea put together an impressive drive and scored twice, but each TD was called back on penalties. Eventually Sands took over on downs.

With 3:32 left to play the Balmorhea defense stopped the Mustang attack and the Bears found the end zone on the next possession with 2:12 left to play to pull within one point _ 60-59.

Balmorhea had to try another onside kick and Sands recovered this one.

Four plays later the Bear defense stopped the Mustangs short of a game winning first down by inches and handed the ball to the offense with 29 seconds left.

It wasn't enough time. Floyd's interception near the goal line ended the Bear's last chance.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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