#COVER1 Bobcats: The Enigma of District 3-6A and What Makes San Angelo Central a Playoff Contender
SAN ANGELO, TX — The San Angelo Central defense was able to keep the Abilene Eagles offensive attack fragmented and disorganized while Central's offense ran up the score using well-designed plays with a diversity of players. Penalties plagued each side throughout the game, however.
The game began with Abilene's 85-yard kick return to the end zone that was called back due to a penalty. Abilene instead started the first drive oof the game at their own 11 yard line. It ended in a three and out.
A short punt by Abilene gave Central great field position at the Abilene 27, but after five attempts, including one "almost" picked-off pass in the end zone, Central could not get into the end zone. On 4th and 5, Central attempted a fake extra point but the quarterback fumbled the ball. Abilene recovered at their own 18 and marched the ball to the red zone with 3 minutes left in the 1st.
Abilene suffered an interception by San Angelo's defensive back #10 Ty Casey, but Casey fumbled the ball and Abilene recovered. Abilene's last chance to score on this drive was with a long pass to the end zone that was broken up by the Bobcats defense. After the turnover on downs, San Angelo took over at the 23 yard line with seconds left in the 1st quarter.
At the end of the 1st quarter, San Angelo put together a scoring drive, marching from their own 16 to the end zone. The drive was punctuated by a 58-yard reception by Tanner Dabbert to the Abilene 42. It was 7-0 Central with a little over 7 minutes left in the half.
In their next possession, Abilene was again not able to score and punted to Central.
Central's drive starting with about 5 minutes left in the half displayed the diversity of the Bobcats' offensive talent. After a few incompletions at the Bobcat 26, Central busted through with a pass and run attack beginning with a #32 running back Kris Jackson's catch in the flats then running the ball to the Bobcat 36. Then, on 3rd down and 10, #3 Christian Gabaldon ran back towards the line of scrimmage for an 8 yard completion, followed by a 15-yard completion by Gabaldon again to the Abilene 31. #14 Jalen Leifeste caught a pass perfectly placed in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was good and the score was 14-0 Central with 2:30 left in the half.
On the next Abilene drive, it was characterized by fits and starts as Abilene's quarterback suffered Central's defensive blitzkreig. Under immense pressure, he couldn't connect with his receivers on several downs, but was able capitalize on a pass interference penalty against Central. It gave him a chance to settle down.
A possible momentum shift towards Abilene was in the air as the clock ticked down towards the end of the half. That is, if Abilene could score.
All in the press box could hear the Abilene coaches with them there yelling out the plays. The coaches screamed, "White, white, white!!" That yielded an incomplete pass and there were just 2 seconds on the clock and 4th and 4 on the San Angelo 26. "Hail mary!" the coaches yelled from the press box. Abilene lined up with 3 wide receivers on the right side and 1 on the left. With Central's defense working man-to-man coverage, the Central blitz was gone, giving QB #9 Matthew Essell time to find #3 Tre Phillips in the center of the end zone for the score. Abilene attempted a 2-point conversion but failed.
The score was 14-6 Central going into halftime.
On San Angelo's second possession of the second half, #8 QB Malachi Brown found #17 WR Tanner Dabbert down field for a 53-yard completion and run to the house with 9:26 left in the 3rd. It was 21-6 Central.
Abilene was able to score at the end of the 3rd quarter after a pass interference and block in the back penalty called back a Central interception by #12 Tristan Lopez who ran it the length of the field to the end zone. On Abilene's next down, Abilene's quarterback connected with #34 Colby Ernst for a reception and touchdown. After the extra point was good, it was 21-13 Central leading at 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter.
In their next drive, San Angelo capitalized on penalties by Abilene to move the ball 75 yards. About 10 plays in, a personal foul against Abilene placed the ball at 1st and goal at the Abilene 10. A short 3-yard run by Jackson and an incomplete pass to Tanner Dabbert in the end zone made it look like the Bobcats were stuck and might have to settle for a field goal. Then, QB1 Brown performed a designed QB run from the 10 on 3rd down into the end zone. After the good extra point, it was 28-13 Central in with 11:55 left in the game.
Abilene once again was unable to move the football and punted on their next possession.
On the next Central drive, QB Malachi Brown kept the drive alive with two large yardage QB designed keepers. In the red zone, Brown handed the ball off to RB #32 Jackson for the score, running the ball up the middle. Central's extra point was good. It was 35-13 Central leading with 5:30 left in the game.
Abilene had one more chance to get back into the game with just 5 minutes left in the game.
The final Abilene drive was aided by Central penalties, specifically a pass interference call that negated a Central interception in the Bobcat end zone. Abilene was unable to capitalize however, being stopped by a tough Central defense that tackled an Abilene RB in his own backfield on 2nd down. Central also put so much pressure on the Abilene QB Ezzell that he threw 2 incompletions. The second incompletion to #5 WR Marcos Garcia was dropped in the end zone on 4th and 6.
Central took over on downs and ran out the clock with about 2 minutes left in the game.
San Angelo Central's win brings the season record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the district. Next week Central travels to DFW to face Richland Oct. 18. Abilene is 2-5 for the season and 1-2 in the district. Abilene hosts Haltom City at Abilene Shotwell Stadium next Friday, Oct. 18.