Mustangs roll past Rangers

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

The third-place berth in District 2-4A, Division II was not Sweetwater’s goal at the start of this season. But it felt pretty good Friday to crush Greenwood 48-23 and end a rare losing streak and claim the No. 3 berth after winning their regular-season finale.
Sweetwater (8-2, 4-2 in District 2-4A D-II) will face Perryton at 7 p.m. Thursday in Childress in bi-district.
Sweetwater roared out to a 41-7 lead in the first two periods. Greenwood cut it to 41-23 entering the fourth period, but Sweetwater put the game away when Chris Thompson scored with 5:01 to play on a 17-yard run.
Thompson threw just one touchdown pass, his fewest in a game this season, as the Mustangs did the bulk of their scoring on the ground while intercepting four of the Rangers’ passes to help keep Greenwood’s offense off the board until Sweetwater had built a big lead.
After two straight losses, this game felt a lot more like most of the first seven wins the Mustangs enjoyed prior to their recent slump.
Daniel Avila’s 3-yard touchdown run that came less than three minutes into the game was the first of six rushing TDs for Sweetwater. Thompson scored from 4 and 19 yards out for a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Mustangs got a 2-yard Avila TD run to make it a 28-0 game with less than a minute gone in the second quarter.
Thompson made it 35-0 on an 8-yard run that ended a two-play, 13-yard drive a couple of minutes later.
After Greenwood scored on its next possession, the Mustangs went to the air at last in opening up a 41-7 advantage.
Isak Alvarez set up the score with his second interception, returning it to the Rangers’ 32. From there, the Mustangs managed just seven yards on three runs until Thompson’s 25-yard, fourth-and-3 pass went to Kobe Clark with 1:35 left in the first half.
Greenwood dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Mustangs 16-0, but Sweetwater still enjoyed a three-possession advantage over the Rangers (41-23) with one quarter to play.
Greenwood used two long touchdown passes from Jake Somers to Brody Ray and a safety to cut the lead. But Sweetwater was able to answer and ice the victory, after the defense held Greenwood to a quick three-and-out on its next possession following the safety that cut it the Mustangs’ lead to 41-23.
Sweetwater got to the 22 of Greenwood until a fumbled snap and penalty crippled the drive. But a punt pinned Greenwood deep in its territory and another three-and-out allowed the Mustangs to start at the 25 of Greenwood following a short punt. Sweetwater scored on a fourth-and-2 run by Thompson from the 17-yard line.
Greenwood (3-3 district, 6-4 overall) will be the No. 4 playoff team in the district. Seminole (6-0) and Monahans (5-1) are the top two seeds for the playoffs.
Sweetwater coach Ben McGehee said a great week of practice after the back-to-back losses resulted in a good outcome Friday.
His players agreed.
Fourth-year starter and senior linebacker Kiante McCoy said the Mustangs needed to regain their focus.
“We wanted to come together and get our momentum back heading into the playoffs,” said McCoy, one of several seniors who likely played at Mustang Bowl for the last time.
Alvarez said his team had more energy on Friday.
“We needed to get our confidence going again,” he said. “We definitely wanted to make a statement, especially on defense after the last two weeks.”
So dominant was Sweetwater on both sides of the ball in the first half that Greenwood did not have a first down until the 7:57 mark of the first half, and by then Sweetwater was ahead 35-0 over the Rangers.