Mustangs fall to 1-1 with loss in home opener

Posted 9/8/20

The Madisonville football team fell back down to earth after an upset victory in Diboll to start the season with a 23-10 loss to Liberty Friday in their home opener at MHS. The team’s offense struggled to finish drives in the loss and succumbed to a critical goal line stand by the Panthers in the third quarter.

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Mustangs fall to 1-1 with loss in home opener

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The Madisonville football team fell back down to earth after an upset victory in Diboll to start the season with a 23-10 loss to Liberty Friday in their home opener at MHS. The team’s offense struggled to finish drives in the loss and succumbed to a critical goal line stand by the Panthers in the third quarter.

“(Finishing drives) was something we talked about this morning in practice,” said head coach Russell Urbantke Monday. “You take two drives in itself and we could have possibly changed the momentum in the game.”

Trailing 10-3 midway through the third quarter, the Mustangs had a chance to retaliate after Liberty opened the half with a quick scoring drive to take the lead. Quarterback Armando Juarez found tight end Josh Griffin deep downfield on third down to put Madisonville near the red zone before a Patrick Brazell carry set them up with first and goal inside the five.

The Panthers' defense managed to keep the Mustangs out of the end zone on four straight rushing plays and would ultimately increase their lead to two possessions after taking over on downs.

“(Liberty) does a good job with their front,” said Urbantke. “It is a very difficult front to block. With an inexperienced offensive line, the results weren’t very good. Some of our younger guys just didn't handle the physical pressure their defensive line brought to us. That’ll be a big point of emphasis this week: getting our physicality back.”

“We were tired, mentally and physically,” said Juarez following the loss. “We could have prepared better. We could have been better in practice. (Urbantke) was telling us all week that (Liberty) was a different team, and I guess we just didn't take that to the head.”

The Mustangs also missed out on scoring chances in the first half. In the opening quarter, Ryan Kinsey recovered a botched Liberty punt at the Panther 28-yard line to set the Mustangs up with a chance to take an early lead, but they were unable to convert.

They would later settle for a field goal in the second quarter after taking over on first and goal from the Liberty nine-yard line when Ronnie Mosely recovered a fumble. The score gave Madisonville a 3-0 lead at the time before the Panthers tied it with a field goal of their own late in the half.

The Madisonville offense ran for 131 total yards Friday for an average of 4.0 yards per carry. Juarez tallied 69 yards on 19 carries while Brazzell found 34 yards on just four carries, including a 17-yard run to set the Mustangs up with first and goal in the third quarter.

Juarez threw for 100 yards, passing the century mark through the air for the second straight week. He completed 7-of-14 attempts on the night, but battled through a handful of drops down the stretch.

“Throwing the ball, (Juarez) has come a long way in a year’s time,” said Urbantke. “He has been on target but we had several big drops the other night. We had a drop in the end zone, we had a couple drops on some deep balls. We are young at wide receiver, too. We are going to deal with some of those things this year. I tell the guys we do not need to make the same mistakes twice. We need to learn from it and catch the ball better.”

Josh Griffin’s 32-yard snag in the third quarter was good enough to lead all Madisonville receivers. L.J. Johnson and Devin Wheaton each tallied 29-yards apiece, including a Wheaton touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.

Jermal Holland and Doug’kyrn Johnson also hauled in passes from Juarez. Johnson had a long catch-and-run negated in the first half due to a blind side block penalty.

The Mustangs committed 12 penalties in the game.

Kicker Vladimir Morales was one-for-one from field goals with a successful 25-yard try and also converted his lone extra point attempt. He punted the ball three times in the loss, tallying 105 total yards.

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