By Clint Andersen
The Mustangs football team took a long road trip to play at Ogallala on Friday night and came up on the short end of the scoreboard 31-18. On paper, the game looked like an easy win for the Mustangs. Ogallala came into the game with a 1-5 record; their only win came against 1-5 Mitchell last week. On what was Parents’ Night for the Indians, they put on a dominant showing for their friends and families.
In what has become the signature of the Mustangs this season, they took the opening kick and marched the ball with authority 91 yards to the Ogallala 1 yard line. The drive took nearly eight and a half minutes off the clock before failing on 4th and goal from the Indians’ one yard line. The Mustang defense stepped up and forced an Ogallala punt after three plays. Lex Haller fielded the punt and raced down the right sideline. He was stacked up at the 10 yard line, but would not be denied and dragged three Indian defenders into the endzone for the score. The extra point was no good, but the Mustangs led 6-0 with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Following the punt return for a touchdown, fortunes changed drastically for both teams. The Indians scored on all three second quarter possessions, while the Mustangs ran only five plays, gained one first down and gave up two fumbles in their own territory. Ogallala used the short field to their advantage and put 17 points on the board in the second quarter.
Down 17-6, the Mustangs hoped to get back on track in the second half, but Ogallala picked up where they left off in the second quarter as they continued their offensive dominance. The Indians took the second half kickoff and quickly drove to the Mustang 10 before Thomas Sandoz ripped the ball away from and Indian ball carrier to stop the drive. The Mustangs couldn’t do anything offensively and three plays later, punted the ball back to Ogallala. After a tremendous punt by Kyle Anderson rolled dead at the Indians’ 24, Ogallala ground out a 76 yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to 24-6.
The Mustangs return team struck again on the ensuing kickoff as Tristan Tuma found a lane and took it all the way home for a quick touchdown score. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful and the score remained 24-12 with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter. The next Ogallala possession began near midfield, but ended abruptly at the Mustang 45 when Lemur Gardner stripped the Ogallala ball carrier and gave the ball back to the Mustang offense. On the next play, Lex Haller hauled in a long pass with an Indian defender draped all over him. The interference penalty was declined and the Mustangs had the ball on the Ogallala 31 with over three minutes left in the third quarter. The Ogallala defense rose to the task and forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over on downs at the 29 yard line.
The Indians again drove the ball into Mustang territory, but were stopped on 4th down at the Mustang 26. With 9:31 left in the game and trailing by two touchdowns, the Mustangs were forced to go for it on 4th and 9 from their 27. The attempt was unsuccessful and the Indians took over with a very short field to work with. Two minutes later, Ogallala scored again to extend their lead to 31-12 with 7:24 left in the game.
Refusing to give up, the Mustang offense gained a first down on the next drive, but an interception at the Mustang 44 effectively doused any hope of winning the game. The defense kept Ogallala from scoring and gave the ball back to the offense on their 10 yard line with 1:01 left in the game. The Mustangs refused to quit and went 90 yards in four plays to score the game’s final touchdown. The offense used two long runs by Tristan Tuma and a touchdown pass to Kyle Anderson on the last play of the game to make the final score 31-18.
The Indians turned the tables on the Mustangs and used ball control and tough defense to win the time of possession battle 33:04 to 14:56 and they out-yarded the Mustangs 380 to 244. Undoubtedly, the two second quarter fumbles that led to 10 Indian points were the key to the game. The second quarter action swung momentum in favor of Ogallala, and they were able to prevent the Mustang offense from finding a rhythm for the rest of the game.
The Mustangs will play their final game of the season Friday when they travel to Mitchell to face the 1-6 Tigers.