There were less than two minutes to go in the second quarter, and the District bout was living up to all the expectations.
After taking a 14-10 lead, their first and only lead of the night, the Bellville Brahmas were driving and looking for more before the half. Then, out of nowhere, Kendell Moffett stripped the ball carrier and Johnny Simpson recovered it.
“We just had to get that turnover,” said Moffett after the game. “We knew we couldn’t let them score again before half.”
It might’ve been enough momentum to suffice for the Mustangs, who were set to receive the second half kickoff. But quarterback Ben Phillips and the Madisonville offense had other ideas. Phillips conducted a textbook two-minute drill and connected with receiver Kasey Williamson twice to give the Mustangs first and goal.
“They were doing a good job applying pressure off of the edge,” said Phillips. “We were able to just throw the slant route behind him and pick up a lot of yards. We had the matchup we wanted.”
Eventually, the drive was polished off by running back Cornelius Merchant on the final play of the half. The offensive line held strong up front on the do-or-die play. Merchant found the end zone a total of three times on the night and the Mustangs never looked back en route to a 31-21 victory.
“Last year we were manhandled by these guys,” said an emotional Rusty Nail after the critical victory. “I can’t say enough about how these kids have come together. Before the game we talked about the power of playing for one another and that’s all that has changed this year. There’s really no telling what this team can do.”
The Mustang defense was strong up front and never allowed Bellville to find a rhythm in the second half. The Brahmas were able to put the ball in the end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the game to make the score look a little more respectable.
Madisonville improved to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in District with one game remaining on the schedule. The team led by a group of vocal and passionate seniors has completely flipped the script on 2016 and won their District.
With playoffs beginning to loom on everyone’s mind, Madisonville will first have a chance to complete an undefeated run in District. The seniors will be honored in their last regular season home game at Mustang Stadium against Tarkington. The Longhorns have not won a game in District.