FOOTBALL: Ground and pound helps Mustangs eke out one-point win


Nixon-Smiley racked up 444 yards of total offense — 390 of that on the ground — and five touchdowns to snag a 34-33 district road victory over Karnes City on Friday, Oct. 29.

The three-headed running back committee of Bradyn Martinez, Dario Jantes and George Rodriguez flexed their muscles as each gained more than 100 yards rushing. Rodriguez led all rushers with 143 yards and three TDs on 19 carrries, while Martinez had 124 yards on 15 carries and two TDs and Jantes had 123 yards on 17 carries.

It didn’t take long for the Mustangs to score. Just 10 minutes into the first quarter, Martinez took a handoff from quarterback Luke Moses and blazed to a 66-yard TD run. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the score was 6-0.

Karnes City took the ensuing drive from their own 29 deep into the Nixon-Smiley red zone, but Martinez would intercept a Badger pass at the Mustang four-yard line to end the threat with about five minutes left in the first quarter.

From there, Nixon-Smiley would methodically march 96 yards downfield, eating up eight minutes of clock time. The drive ended with a score when Rodriguez ran it in from 11 yards out with about nine minutes to play in the first half. A two-point conversion run by the Mustangs made it 14-0.

The Badgers got on the scoreboard on their next drive with a 58-yard rushing TD by quarterback Treyton Clark with eight minutes left in the first half. A successful PAT kick made it 14-7.

Nixon-Smiley drove the ball back deep into Karnes City territory on the ensuing drive, but turned the ball over on downs on the Badger 15-yard line with about five minutes to play in the second quarter. From there, Karnes City used big plays to move down the field and they scored on a 24-yard TD pass from Clark to Lisaiah Mendoza. The PAT kick tied up the game at 14-14 and that’s what it was when the teams went into the lockerroom for the half.

In the third period, Karnes City took their first lead of the game when Clark hooked up with Warrick Thompson on a 37-yard TD pass. The PAT kick made it 21-14 in favor of the hometown Badgers.

Things would get wild and wooly in the fourth period for both teams as they combined to put up 32 total points. Nixon-Smiley would get a nine-yard Rodriguez TD run and a two-point conversion made it 22-21.

Karnes City clawed back and retook the lead on their next possession as Clark threw a five-yard TD pass. A conversion attempt failed and the Badgers had a 27-22 lead at that point.

Nixon-Smiley drove the ball downfield and scored again, this time on a five-yard Rodriguez TD run. The conversion attempt failed, but Nixon-Smiley had a 28-27 lead over Karnes City.

The Badgers retook the lead with a 39-yard TD pass from Clark to Gabriel Gutierrez, but failed to hit the conversion and Karnes City was up 33-28.

That set up Nixon-Smiley’s final heroics, which included a long pass from Moses to Martinez, who would later score on a five-yard TD run for the game winner, as the Mustangs would escape with a 34-33 victory.

This week, Nixon-Smiley hosts the Dilley Wolves for Senior Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. Also in district play, Stockdale is at George West, while Karnes City will be at Natalia. If Nixon-Smiley wins  — and so do Stockdale and Natalia, which is expected — the Mustangs will “stampede” into the playoffs to presumably face Odem next week.