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Monday, November 8, 1999

Pecos stalled by San Eli, faces Ysleta in playoffs

Staff Writer
SAN ELIZARIO, Nov. 5, 1999 Those missed chances in the red zone figured to cost the Pecos Eagles a game sometime in the 1999 season, and they did on Friday in San Elizario.

The host Eagles took advantage of one of their two scoring chances in the first half of the game, while the visiting Eagles lost the ball once on downs and a second time on a fumble. Pecos never got inside the San Elizario's 40-yard line after that, while San Eli added a clinching score in the final minute to post a 12-0 win and earn their first-ever district football title.

The game turned out to have no meaning on the final playoff pairings, thanks to Clint's 47-32 win at El Paso Mountain View. It dropped Pecos into third place in the final standings, but it also assured the Eagles would go into the Class 4A playoffs as the Division I representative, and will face the El Paso Ysleta Indians in the bi-district round, at Ysleta next Friday, starting at 8:30 p.m. CST

"They did a great job of playing defense," said Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs. "They did what everyone's done all year long put more people on the line than we could block."

The Eagles had squandered two early scoring chances the previous week against Canutillo, but their special teams and defense took advantage of Canutillo errors in the second half to post a 32-0 victory. This time, the defense played another strong game after the opening series, but the closest they came to a score of their own was in the third quarter, when Len Carson stepped in front of a Perez pass for Gilbert Acosta at the Pecos 35 and intercepted it, returning it 20 yards to San Elizario's 45.

But before they even ran a play a procedure call set them back five yards to the 50. Two runs by Jason Carrillo netted nothing and after Israel Hernandez separated Carrillo from a third down option pass by Derek Zubledia, the Eagles were forced to make one of their seven punts on the night.

"We were set up in good field position in the latter half of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth quarter, but we didn't capitalize," Grubbs said. "If you don't move the ball you can't score."

Carrillo went the entire way at fullback in place of Jacob Esparza, the Eagles' leading rusher who suited up, but did not play for disciplinary reasons.

"He missed practice, and the rules are you have to be there, so he did not play," Grubbs said. "That's the rule, and all the players have to abide by the rules, and I'm not going to back down on that. I forfeited a baseball playoff game because of that, and I'm not going to change."

San Elizario ended up punting one more time than Pecos did on the night, but got all the scoring they needed on their opening drive.

Perez rolled right and found tight end Albert Jacobo for a 13-yard gain on a 3rd-and-7 play early in the series, and two plays later Lorenzo Castaneda broke through the line and rambled 43 yards to the Pecos 16. Omar Luna then caught running back Mike Tapia for a three-yard loss, but on the next play Perez hit Acosta cutting from the left to right across the field, and he raced untouched into the end zone.

New kicker Mike Rivas missed the extra point, and Pecos then came out and hit an early third down pass of their own, from Alex Garcia to tight end Cesar Coria for 13 yards. A flanker reverse by Zubledia and a run by Carrillo netted another first down, and Garcia then ran for 11 yards to get the ball inside San Elizario's 15. But Donnie Winfrey was caught by linebacker Joe Luis Chavez for a one-yard loss, a Garcia pass to Winfrey went incomplete, and then after another reverse by Zubledia netted six yards, Angel Muela broke up a slant pass from Garcia to Ricky Plummer in the end zone, killing the drive.

"I thought the slant call was a great call, and it looked like pass interference, but we didn't get the call," Grubbs said.

Pecos would drive the ball deep into San Elizario territory again as the second period opened, thanks to a 31-yard `jump ball' reception by Zubeldia, who outfought Jose Rivas for the catch. But two plays later Matthew Levario was gang tackled on a sweep play and stripped of the ball, with San Elizario recovering at the 20.

Two plays later the Eagles then couldn't come up with a Tapia fumble at the 25, and on the play after that Perez found Tapia behind Pecos' defense for a 55-yard gain to the Eagles' 20.

The refs then helped Pecos on the next play. Tapia faked out three Eagle defenders on a sidelines pass and went in for an apparent score, but an illegal procedure penalty nullified that TD, and Pecos ended up getting the ball back from San Elizario on downs at the 35 following a sack of Perez by Trent Riley.

But the Eagles offense just couldn't sustain a drive the rest of the night, ending up with only 156 yards in total offense, to 241 for the host Eagle squad. Pecos would get to the 50 one other time in the second half, but a bad exchange between Garcia and Carson resulted in another turnover, with Rivas recovering at midfield. San Elizario didn't move the ball, but it allowed Perez to punt Pecos into a hole in the closing minutes of the game.

The Eagles' last gasp came with 2:13 left, when Garcia was tackled a yard short of a first down at the Pecos 19 on a quarterback scramble. Perez, who figures to be the district's Most Valuable Player on offense, then broke a couple of tackles to get a clinching first down on a 4th-and-2 from the 11, and capped off the night by going around left end for a six yard score with 47 seconds to play.

"I thought we played great defense all game. When you give up just 12 points you expect to win, but we just didn't do what we had to on offense," said Grubbs, whose team finished regular season play with a 5-5 record, and a 3-2 mark in District 2-4A.

San Elizario won their seventh straight game after a 1-2 start, and will face El Paso Riverside in the bi-district round of the playoffs, their first-ever post-season appearance. Riverside won second in 1-4A with a 27-20 win in double overtime over Ysleta (which is 4-6 on the season), while Clint' win kept the Eagles from facing District 1-4A champ El Paso Parkland in the bi-district round. The Lions now get to face the Matadors, who beat them 51-21, in Week 4 of the season.

The winner of the Pecos-Ysleta game will face either Hereford or Plainview in the Division I semifinals for Region I-4A. The Eagles will be the smallest school of the eight in the Division I field, which has one less round of playoffs than in Division II.

Big Spring will face Brownwood and Denton will take on Weatherford in the other two Region I-4A contests.

at San Elizario

Pecos                    0   0   0   0 - 0

San Elizario          6   0   0   6 -12

First Quarter

SE - Acosta 19 pass from Perez (kick failed), 3:17.

Fourth Quarter

SE - Perez 6 run (run failed), 11:13.

                                Pec               SE
First Downs                 7                  9
Rushes-Yds         37-80         41-155
Passing Yds               76                86
Passes                6-22-1         4-14-1
Punts-Yds           7-37.7         8-35.5
Fumbles-lost            3-2              1-0
Penalties-Yds         5-48            7-45

Rushing - Pecos, Carrillo 15-35, Winfrey 9-22, A. Garcia 7-11, Zubledia 4-6, Carson 1-4, Levario 1-2. San Elizario, Tapir 23-82, Castaneda 2-44, Perez 11-22, Arellano 2-5, S. Elizalde 3-2.
Passing - Pecos, Garcia 6-19-0-76, Zubledia 0-3-1-0. San Elizario, Perez 4-13-1-86, Acosta 0-1-0-0.
Receiving - Pecos, Zubledia 1-31, Bates 1-24, Coria 1-14, Winfrey 2-3. San Elizario, Tapia 1-55, Acosta 1-19, Jacobo 1-13, Castaneda 1-(-1).
Missed Field Goals - None.

Bears close season with win over Mustangs

Staff Writer
BALMORHEA, Nov. 8, 1999 -- After a season full of hard knocks the Balmorhea Bears closed the year with an easy one against an out-gunned Marathon team Friday night.

The game was called on the 45-point rule four minutes into the fourth quarter. The final score was Bears 66, Mustangs 21. It was the second victory of the year for the Bears over the Mustangs, whom they beat in a non-district game at Marathon in September, 46-0.

Logistics turned out to be head coach Ennis Erickson's biggest challenge of the night.

"This was one of those games where we were pretty sure we were going to win and it was out last game of the year so we tried to get everybody some playing time," Erickson said. "Of course, it is the seniors' last game too so we were also trying to make sure they played some too."

Balmorhea will loose seven seniors this year _ Manny Mendoza, Josue Mendoza, Larmer Lethco, Chris Cook, Ryan Clark, Kevin Rodriguez and Josh Pogue.

Josue Mendoza closed out his high school career with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and a fourth touchdown rushing the ball. Manny Mendoza scored once, and Josh Pogue, who primarily plays defensive end, ran the ball into the end zone for the first time in his career. Chris Cook rushed for a touchdown and Adriel Roman hauled in a 36-yard pass from Arturo Rodriguez for a touchdown.

"This was a good game for us and a good way to close the season," Erickson said. "This year we were a pretty young team even though we had seven seniors. Few of our boys had a lot of game experience. Next year, we only have a couple of seniors but we have a bunch of juniors who played a good bit as sophomores. We're looking forward to a successful year."

"Personally, I would like to thank everyone who supported us through this season and also say that I'm very proud of these young men," Erickson said.

Balmorhea was scheduled to play Sierra Blanca this coming Friday but the Vaqueros have forfeited the game due to a lack of players. The Bears learned about the forfeit Thursday before the game. The forfeit win will end the Bears' season with a 5-4 record and 3-3 in District 7-A six-man play.

Sierra Blanca also forfeited their game to Sanderson this past Friday, while Grandfalls outscored Dell City, 91-45 in the other district game. Sanderson (5-0 in district) and Grandfalls (5-1) will be the playoff representatives if Sanderson beats Dell City (4-1) this Friday. A Dell City win would force a tiebreaker to determine the district's two playoff representatives.

Backups help Vikes stay in playoff race

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 5, 1999  (AP) If not for Jeff George and Leroy Hoard, the Minnesota Vikings might find themselves in the same hole as their fellow conference championship game participants from last season.

The Denver Broncos lost John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe. The New York Jets lost Vinny Testaverde, and the Atlanta Falcons lost Jamal Anderson.

All are wallowing far under .500.

The Vikings (4-4), who face the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) tonight at the Metrodome, lost running back Robert Smith to a double hernia and benched quarterback Randall Cunningham just 5-1/2 games into his $28 million contract.

But they've won two straight after a 2-4 start behind George and Hoard, two 10-year veteran understudies who have found new life in Minnesota after stormy stops elsewhere.

The Cowboys also are hurting. Michael Irvin (spine) is out, along with receiver James McKnight.

"It's just the nature of the game right now with the salary cap. Teams aren't as deep as they once were," said Troy Aikman, himself bothered by headaches from a helmet-to-helmet hit last week.

"It's just kind of who's going to be able to stay in there and battle and be standing at the end of the season."

The Vikings have more depth than most.

Both Hoard and George became starters during a loss at Detroit three weeks ago.

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Pecos Enterprise
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