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Friday, September 4, 1998

Mustangs' changes do in Eagles

Staff Writer
ODESSA, Sept. 4 -- Football is a game of adjustments.
Adjusting to the opposing schemes and adjusting to injuries.

The Pecos Eagles adjusted to the opening offensive scheme
the Denver City Mustangs threw at them, and helped turn a
quick 6-0 deficit into a 14-6 Pecos lead. But Denver City
did some adjusting of their own at the half, and combined
with a couple of injuries that left the Eagles' linebacking
corps depleted, the Mustangs scored twice in the final
period for a 20-14 victory at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa in
the season opener for both teams.

Denver City quarterback Luis Villegas ran 65 yards on the
second play from scrimmage for a touchdown, and had 80 yards
rushing on his first three carries, before the Eagles
adjusted their defense. For the rest of the half, he ended
up with minus-4 yards on three carries, but in the second
half, Villegas found room to run again, scoring the tying
touchdown and extra point on a two-yard run with 8:27 to
play, then going in from 36 yards out with 2:10 left for the
game-winning score.

"They came out and had a real good scheme," said Eagles'
coach Dan Swaim, who was making his head coaching debut at
the stadium he played at while a member of Odessa Periman in
the 1980s. "We came out and ran an overshift defense, and
they saw that and started running away from our overshift.

"We got back in our basic `29' defense, but by then it was
too little, too late," Swaim said.

The Eagles were also hurt by a severely sprained ankle
suffered by linebacker Robert Gonzales, while tackling
Richard Flores in the second period. Gonzales had picked off
a Villegas pass in the first period to stop a Denver City
drive, and his replacement, Daniel Terrazas, would do the
same at the goal line in the third period to thwart a
Mustang drive. But Terrazas was already starting on the
offensive line, and the Eagles' had several other two-way
players who looked a step slower in the final period while
another linebacker, Joe Robert Lara, went off late with an
ankle injury.

"Daniel ended up having to play both ways after Robert went
down, and when you lose a senior like that and have to go
with a sophomore, it's going to hurt," Swaim said. "Daniel
played a great game, but when you have to play both ways,
you're going to get run down."

The Eagles got fired up after Villegas' score when Lucio
Florez returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to Denver
City's 46. An apparent bad spot on a 4th-and-1 run by Jacob
Esparza cost Pecos a first down at the Denver City 36, but
after Gonzales' one-handed interception at the Eagles' 46,
Pecos used a 12-play drive to get their first TD of the

Quarterback Oscar Luna took advantage of his running skills
to gain 8- and 9-yards early, then got around the end for
five on a 4th-and-1 at the Denver City 17. Three plays later
Jacob Esparza was able to get around the left side and just
get into the corner of the end zone to tie the game.

Louis Valencia's extra point gave the Eagles a 7-6 lead,
and Pecos would score again on their next series, after
stopping Denver City cold inside their own 10. This time,
the Eagles' big plays were through the air, a 12-yard pass
to Manuel Contreras from Luna, after a holding penalty set
Pecos back to the Denver City 48, and a 27-yard screen pass
from Luna to Mark Abila that got the ball inside the 10.

Two plays later, Hector Garcia scored from a yard out, and
Valencia added the extra point.

Up by eight, the Eagles almost added another score just
before the half, after John Gutierrez recovered a Villegas
fumble at the Denver City 20. Luna did score from nine yards
out with 27 seconds to play, but the Eagles were hit with
another penalty, and this time could not recover. Gutierrez'
32-yard field goal try was blocked as the half came to an

Kevin Ivy was knocked groggy by his own man earlier in the
quarter, on Luna's screen pass to Abila, but was able to
return on offense in the third period, and proved to be a
major factor. He gained 23 yards in the Mustangs' aborted
third quarter drive, and finished with 49 yards rushing in
the half.

Denver City wound up gaining 187 yards in the final two
quarters, while the Eagles, after gaining 153 yards in the
first half, were limited to just 20 yards in the final two

The Mustangs' tying score came off a 64-yard drive that
began late in the third period, and their winning score came
one play after Denver City held Pecos inside their own 10
and forced a Valencia punt.

Down by six with two minutes left, the Eagles did escape
one hole, as another screen from Luna to Abila on 4th-and-17
picked up 18 yards, to the Pecos 42. But the next screen
pass to Esparza was fumbled and was recovered at the Pecos
38, Luna was sacked by Tensy Villarreal for another 8-yard
loss, and Jarod Morales picked off Luna's deep pass to Jason
Payne on the game's final play.

Aside from Gonzales' injury, trainer Joel Birch said none
of the other Eagles was seriously hurt in Thursday's game.

"I'm proud of our kids," Swaim said. "Denver City's got a
good team, and we just need to keep our kids up and get back
to work Monday and get ready for Alpine," whom the Eagles
face in their home opener a week from tonight.

Pecos' freshmen Eagles will play their home opener tonight
at 7 p.m. against Denver City, while the Eagles' junior
varsity makes the 150-mile trip north to Denver City to face
the Mustangs' JV, also at 7 p.m.

Schedule maker delays Maris HR chase

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 4 (AP) -- Finally, there's someone who can
shut down Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa: the schedule-maker.

The sluggers' teams took Thursday off, and the home-run race
resumes tonight. McGwire, who needs three homers to break
Roger Maris' record of 61, returns home as the St. Louis
Cardinals begin a three-game series against Cincinnati. The
Chicago Cubs and Sosa, who has 56 homers, play at

Since Maris doesn't seem to stand a chance, the greater
drama may be whether McGwire can stay ahead of Sosa. And
then there's this tantalizing question: How many homers will
Mighty Mac hit?

The pause in the race allowed time for a little
back-to-school math:

-- With 23 games remaining, McGwire is averaging a home run
every 2.4 games. At that pace, he'll hit 69 homers.

-- McGwire homered 15 times last September. If he duplicates
that finish, he'll hit 70.

-- McGwire has 12 homers in the past 16 days. At that rate,
he'll finish with 77.

-- On Tuesday and Wednesday, McGwire had consecutive
two-homer games for the first time as a Cardinal. If he
keeps up that pace -- two homers per game -- he'll hit 105.

Sosa clearly has his work cut out for him.

``I'm not trying to catch Mark McGwire,'' he said. ``Mark's
the man.''

One projection has McGwire breaking Maris' record Thursday
at Cincinnati. But the Cardinals slugger dislikes
speculation about the timing of No. 62.

``When it's meant to be done -- if it's meant to be done --
it will be done,'' he said. ``When? I think everybody will

It should be noted that all projections might be skewed
because McGwire's three most recent games were against the
Florida Marlins, who have the worst pitching staff in the
NL. He sent Florida's fans into a frenzy Wednesday by
hitting two tape-measure home runs for the second
consecutive night.

``The best thing that has happened is that this has been
good for baseball,'' McGwire said. ``Fans are embracing the

The last-place Marlins deserve credit because they pitched
to McGwire. They just didn't do it very well.

McGwire's four moonshots over Miami averaged 469 feet. He
went 5-for-11 in the three-game series with four walks,
raising his average to .299. His 145 bases on balls lead the

``He hasn't lost his patience,'' Florida manager Jim Leyland
said. ``He hasn't expanded his strike zone. He's not

``It astounds me how strong his mind is,'' Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa said. ``His mind is actually stronger than his

And his body inspires awe. Players on both teams were
astonished by homer No. 58, a sinker from Brian Edmondson
that was inside and, according to McGwire, three inches off
the ground.

``My first reaction was, `Why did he swing at that pitch?'''
Edmondson said. ``Then I turned and just couldn't believe
how high and far it went.''

The homer, which landed in the upper deck in left field, was
estimated at 497 feet.

An inning later, when McGwire stepped to the plate again,
catcher Randy Knorr was still shaking his head about the

``How did you hit that pitch?'' Knorr asked.

``I have no idea,'' McGwire said.

Then came the next pitch: Another homer.

The race continues.

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