San Angelo Central Edges Out Abilene
ABILENE, TX—The San Angelo Central Bobcats looked to be cruising early in the first half of their season opener, but had to hold off the Abilene Eagles in the second half for the 42-28 victory.
"That's a good football team," Central Head Coach Brent Davis said of Abilene. "You're not going to come out here and romp on them, especially in Shotwell Stadium."
Maverick McIvor shined in his debut as the Bobcats' new starting quarterback, throwing four touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in the victory. McIvor totaled over 300 yards through the air.
"I don't know how [Maverick] could have played better," Davis said of his junior quarterback. "He executed the offense perfectly."
Davis also commended how his team "got things going" early on. Otto Haynes sure put the Bobcats on the right foot to start 2017 as he took the opening kickoff 45 yards to the 40 yardline and set up Central in Eagles' territory.
On the opening drive, McIvor found two guys who would be his go-to receivers throughout the game in Henry Teeter and Jesse Scott. Scott had one of two big plays in the first offensive series for Central, hauling in a pass for a sizeable gain and a first down. After an incomplete pass to Scott on the very next play, McIvor then called his own number to the tune of 24 yards down to AHS' six yardline. One play later, McIvor kept the ball again, scoring around the right side to make it 7-0 Central almost two minutes into the contest.
While the Angry Orange played well, they were the beneficiary of some awful miscues by Abilene. On the ensuing drive, following the 'Cats touchdown, Abilene went three and out. When Eagles' punter Jacob Johnston trotted out to boot the ball away, the snap sailed over his head and Johnston's only move was to kick it out of bounds...from the nine yardline. That's illegal in football and is a spot foul with a loss of downs. Davis and the Bobcats accepted the penalty instead of the safety and took over on Abilene's nine yardline.
Following a holding penalty that pushed Central back to the 19 yardline and an incomplete pass to Teeter, Jesse Scott hauled in a pass on the post route for a 19 yard passing touchdown. Abilene would block Ezekiel Del Rio's PAT, but the score would read 13-0 Central with 8:18 left to play in the first quarter.
Abilene's next drive would not last long. Defensive back Gage Smith, the only returning defensive starter for Central, would dive in front of an Andrew Fazzell pass for his first interception of the year. A personal foul on the return, however, sent the Bobcats back to their own 34 yardline following the 15 yard mark-off.
"I thought we came out well," McIvor noted. "We just need to eliminate penalties."
Central returned the favor later in that drive, fumbling the ball and turning it back over to Abilene on AHS' own 13 yardline.
Abilene, throughout the first half, struggled to mount any sort of offensive momentum between the fumbles and three and outs.
In fact, Abilene turned the ball over at the 20 yardline on a fumble two plays after getting the ball from the Central.
With the ball back, the Bobcat's could not capitalize as Gage Smith missed a 36 yard field goal.
Following another Abilene punt, Central marched into the Eagles' redzone. The Bobcats came away with a 30 yard field goal by Ezekiel Del Rio, though, extended their to 16 with 2:01 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was rather quiet. Central put up the only points of the second quarter on a seven yard pass from McIvor to Teeter midway through the quarter. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 22-0 going into the break.
Raekwon Millsap would get the wheels spinning for Abilene in the third quarter however, as he broke free from a few Central tacklers and found pay dirt on a 56 yard touchdown pass to narrow the lead 22-7 with 10:12 left in the third quarter.
The two teams then traded punts. However, on Abilene's punt, a Central blocker ran into the path of the rolling ball and touched it. Abilene recovered to muffed punt on the 'Cats 10 yardline.
On the first play from scrimmage, Fazzell took advantage of the favorable bounce and found Tyler Bridges in the end-zone for the score, narrowing the deficit to just eight points in the third quarter.
The ensuing drive saw McIvor find the big play again. This time he found Philip Lupton for 59 yards and the score, making it a two score game once again.
A 53 yard reception by Teeter on the next drive would set the Bobcats up with first and goal from the one yardline. Austin Barron took the hand off on the next play and plowed into the endzone. A successful PAT made the score 36-14.
Abilene High would score 14 points unanswered in the fourth quarter to pull within eight. Central, however, sealed the game with a 33 yard touchdown reception from Teeter. Del Rio missed the PAT to keep the score at 42-28. Central's defense forced a turnover on downs before taking to the victory formation to run out the clock.
Central (1-0) will host Byron Nelson (0-1) at San Angelo Stadium next Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:00 p.m.