It took almost an entire half for the state’s No. 9-ranked team in Class 3A to make a first down here Friday against an inspired Sweetwater defense.
And the Mustangs were still tied with Monahans 7-7 through three quarters of a classic defensive battle in Game 2 of the seventh an-nual Sammy Baugh Classic.
But the Loboes’ defense ultimately prevailed, holding Sweetwater to just three yards and no first downs in the second half and scoring 10 points in the final period for a hard-earned 17-7 win.
Monahans’ first five series produced three punts, an interception, no first downs and a negative-31 yards including penalties against a Mustang defense that had shut out Vernon in its opener. Sweetwater (1-1), meanwhile, took a 7-0 lead on Ryan Linebaugh’s 5-yard run to cap an eight-play, 36-yard drive following Nick Nemir’s interception near the end of the opening period. The defense held and Sweetwater, with the help of a Monahans penalty for pass interference, again moved into Monahans territory on its next possession before stalling out. At that point, the Loboes trailed not only 7-0 on the scoreboard but in first downs as well. But Monahans held Sweetwater without a first down the rest of the way while its offense began showing life late in the half. The Loboes’ initial first down was followed by a 47-yard touchdown run by Byron Scharf, and the extra point made it 7-7 with 2:22 left in the second quarter.
Neither team did much offensively in Period 3, but great field position helped Monahans begin to start taking control. The Loboes forced the Mustangs’ sixth punt after pinning them at their 1, and took over at Sweetwater’s 41.
Again, Sweetwater’s de-fense made the yards tough to come by. But Monahans (2-0) would not be denied, finally scoring on a 16-yard run by Pedro Cano with 10:03 left to make it 14-7. The Loboes faced third-and-14 after a fumbled snap, two-yard run and 5-yard motion penalty, but Cano — who had just 21 yards on 13 carries to that point — was able to shed a tackle and break free for his team’s go-ahead touchdown. After the defense held Sweetwater yet again, Monahans then moved 61 yards in eight plays to set up a 31-yard field goal by Alejandro Mendoza and in-crease the Loboes’ lead to 17-7 with 4:46 remaining.
“I think this game shows how far that we’ve come,” said Sweetwater head coach Craig Slaughter. “This is the first good team that we’ve played toe-to-toe with since I’ve been here.
“But you can’t keep put-ting them back on the field like we did. We were just worn down at the end and Monahans took advantage. Defensively, I think we’ve shown we’re extremely high caliber. But offensively, we’re not even average, and we’ve got to get there to help the defense.”
Monahans finished with 247 yards, with over half of its total (136 yards) coming in the fourth quarter.
Sweetwater, which gained 251 yards against Vernon in its season-opening 10-0 win, gained 88 of its 91 yards against Monahans in the first two periods.
The Mustangs go on the road to face Levelland this Friday, then are home to face Early before playing the next three on the road.