With less than four min-utes to play in the first half, things were looking good for Sweetwater in Friday’s battle with Brownwood for a district playoff berth at Mustang Bowl.
While the game was tied at 7-7, Sweetwater had the ball and, after forcing a Brownwood punt moments earlier, had the momentum as well. But then things started to go sour for the Mustangs as Brownwood made its decisive run.
First, quarterback Taylor Jones was stopped for a 2-yard loss on third-and-2 and the ensuing punt went just 17 yards. Brownwood then drove to a score with :26 left. But the Lions weren’t done. Sweetwater fumbled the kickoff, allowing Brownwood time t0 make it 17-7 at halftime.
The problems continued for Sweetwater. An interception on the first play of the second half and another fumble later in the quarter led to 10 more Brownwood points and a 27-7 cushion, and the Lions held on for a 27-14 victory that clinched a playoff berth for Brown-wood (2-1 in District 5-3A, 6-3 for the season).
Worse than that, it ended Sweetwater’s playoff hopes as the Mustangs finish 1-3 in district, while going 4-6 overall. Snyder (3-0) and Wylie (2-1) will be the district’s other playoff teams.
Sweetwater fought back to make it interesting at the end with a fourth-quarter touchdown and nice defensive stand, followed by a 21-play drive — the longest of the year in terms of total plays — that got to Brownwood’s 3. But two incompletions and a sack ended it, allowing the visitors to run out the clock.
Jones did everything he could in his final game for the Mustangs as a three-year starter. Although he was intercepted twice, he threw a fourth-quarter TD pass to Kaleb Hoover and had 215 total yards — 112 passing and 103 rushing, including Sweetwater’s first TD on an 18-yard run.
But it wasn’t enough for Sweetwater, largely due to the turnovers — four of them in all. The first was a first-quarter interception after reaching Brownwood’s 23 that preserved a 7-0 Lion lead, but Sweetwater later tied it 7-7 after scoring on an 8-play drive capped by Jones’ 18-yard run with 8:51 left in the half. A blocked punt allowed Sweetwater to start with great field posi-tion, as the Mustangs needed to move just 48 yards to score.
Sweetwater then fought through its adversity to hit paydirt again in the fourth quarter, moving 54 yards in 12 plays and scoring when Jones threw an 11-yard pass to Hoover. An 18-yard pass to Gabe Medellin on fourth-and-nine from the 31 allowed Sweetwater to keep the drive moving. Hoover’s TD reception was his first of the season.
Jones also reached a significant milestone as he passed 1,000 yards for the season, finishing with 1,073, as well as a team-high 572 yards rushing for the Mustangs.
It was the final game for several Sweetwater players, with a total of 21 seniors on the squad. The seniors, all of whom were recognized prior to the game, are Medellin, Jones, Parker Scott, Dylan Torres, Albert Leija, Ryan Mercer, Mario Lopez, Adrian Lopez, Anthony Palacios, Sam Nemir, Dylon Adames, Jimmy Vasquez, Shea Burnett, Josh LaRue, Hunter Johnson, Malcolm Jackson, Spencer Young, Mateo Gonzales, Anthony Ortega, Nate Hardin and Jacob Villalpando.