EASTLAND — Plenty of fireworks were expected when Sweetwater and Eastland kicked off their respective 2013 football seasons against each other Friday. And the teams didn’t disappoint as their offenses produced almost 1,000 yards as well as 48 first downs — and also no turnovers on a total of 134 plays.
But the Mavericks, who lost to Sweetwater 23-13 a year ago when the teams met at the Sammy Baugh Classic in Shane Mobley’s head coaching debut, turned the tide on the Mustangs as they rallied from a first-half deficit to take a 46-30 victory on their home field.
The biggest reason for Eastland’s turnaround was its 190-pound senior quarterback Josh Moylan, who accounted for 436 of the Mavericks’ 584 yards.
Moylan directed seven Eastland scoring drives — his team punted just once — and was equally dangerous throwing and running. His three touchdown throws all came in the first half when the 2A Mavs built a 24-15 advantage; his three running TDs came after inter-mission and sealed the win over the 3A Mustangs.
Sweetwater had rallied from a 6-0 deficit in the second quarter of last year’s game to score 20 unanswered points and never looked back.
The Mustangs began Fri-day’s rematch with an impressive 12-play, 88-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead. And after the Mavericks rallied to take an 11-8 advantage, Sweetwater responded with another TD drive for a 15-11 lead with 8:11 left until halftime.
But the offense didn’t get another first down until 2 1/2 minutes into the third period while Eastland had 20 unanswered points — giving it a 31-15 lead — during that time to seize control of the contest.
Eastland took the lead, 17-15, when Moylan connected with Mason Thayer on a fourth-and-8 pass from the 17. The defense then forced a three-and-out, giving the offense a chance to score again before halftime for a 24-15 advantage.
Moylan completed the decisive surge in the third quarter with a 30-yard touchdown run that capped a 5-play, 70-yard drive.
Sweetwater finally got its offense untracked with a 75-yard drive that produced a 39-yard TD throw from quarterback Kaegan Jeffrey to wide receiver Bray Amos. Isaiah McGee’s second two-point conversion run cut the lead to 31-23.
The teams then traded scores, with the Mustangs again pulling within eight points (38-30) on a 25-yard, fourth-down scoring throw from Jeffrey to Amos with 1:36 left in the third quarter. Michael Hunt kicked the extra point, Sweetwater’s final one of the night.
After stopping Eastland’s next drive at their 19-yard line, the Mustangs were in position to tie the game with just over 10 minutes still to play. But after forcing a quick punt, Eastland regained possession and got its final score with 6:50 to play on Moylan’s 5-yard touchdown run.
“We kind of went back and forth there for awhile,” Mobley said. “But we didn’t take advantage of our opportunity to tie it back up. I tried three or four defenses to stop what they were doing, but we just never got comfortable.
“We have to figure out a way to stop the run and make teams one-dimensional. Tonight (Eastland) was two-dimensional and they kind of picked us a part a little.”
Amos and running back Marquees Jenkins both had big games for Sweetwater. Amos caught eight passes for 125 yards and three TDs, also scoring on a 15-yard Jeffrey pass in the first period, while Jenkins had 149 yards rushing on 15 carries including a 7-yard scoring run that gave the Mustangs their final lead at 15-11.
Sweetwater will travel to Andrews for its next game this Friday.