SAN ANGELO, TX — Still hungry for their first win of the season after a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds to A&M Consolidated last week, the San Angelo Central Bobcats began conference play tonight, Oct. 16. With the Little Southwest Conference back together again, the ‘Cats dominated the Abilene High Eagles in every facet of the game. Behind five touchdown passses from quarterback Malichi Brown, the Bobcats hung 53 points on the Eagles and won their district opener, 53-32.
Beginning tonight’s game on much better footing than the three previous games, the Bobcat defense took the field first and did not allow an opening touchdown. Even though the ‘Cats gave up a few big plays to the Eagles, they eventually stonewalled Abilene High at the goal line. Forcing the Eagles to kick a field goal. Abilene High was the first to score, 3-0.
Quarterback Malachi Brown looked sharp on the ‘Cats first drive, connecting with multiple receivers through the air and running for numerous first downs. Most notably, wide receivers Weston Hill and Jalen Levesque caught multiple passes to set up a 20-yard touchdown pass and catch from Brown to Hill. The Bobcat offense came to play early and took the lead, 7-3.
The Central defense managed another stop on the following drive. An excellent defensive stand, including a sack by defensive end Monte’Vious Dobbins, gave the ball right back to the offense at the San Angelo 35-yard line. The Bobcats turned the heat up on the ground on that drive with long runs by running back Ashton Hartsfield. The campaign ended with a monster, 40-yard touchdown catch and run by wide receiver Hill, extending the Bobcats lead to 14-3.
As the second quarter began, Abilene High’s offense finally had success moving the ball downfield on an otherwise stalwart San Angelo Central defense. Abilene’s wide receiver Anthony Ramirez hooked up his quarterback Abel Ramirez for two big plays pushing the War Eagles to the goal line. Running Back Da’King Thomas punched the ball in two plays later from five yards out. After a missed two point conversion, Abilene High narrowed the deficit to 14-9.
Following the quick score by the War Eagles, the Bobcats needed a response. Aided by a costly pass interference penalty, continued precision passes from Brown, and timely catches by this talented wide receiver corps, Central’s offense answered. Running back Isiah Dale scored a 4-yard rushing touchdown and this offense continued to fire on all cylinders. A successful 2-point conversion put the ‘Cats back up by two scores, 22-9.
San Angelo Central’s defense found it a struggle to deal with the athleticism of the War Eagles. Two highlight-worthy plays by the running backs, one that included Abilene High hurdling a Central defender, pushed the Bobcats’ backs against the wall. However, once again the Cats’ bent, but did not break, and forced another field goal. Central continued to control this game even as the scores tightened to 22-12.
With two minutes to go until halftime, the Central offense had one more opportunity to score and not much time to work with. This did not stop the offense, however, as the Bobcats drove the ball 75 yards in three plays to score again. Malachi Brown threw a pass to Levesque on a double move that went for 71 yards and another touchdown. The Bobcats headed into the locker room at the half with a comfortable lead of 29-12.
Receiving the 2nd half kickoff, San Angelo Central continued to dominate the Abilene defense. Catches by Levesque, Tripp Noble, and Hill moved the offense down the field on a quick, three play scoring drive. Punctuated by a 49-yard touchdown pass and catch from Malachi Brown to Hill. The Bobcats began to pull away, leading 36-12.
Abilene High refused to give up the fight, racing down the field on a drive of their own. Three massive runs and poor tackling by the Bobcat defense kept the Eagles in this game. Abilene may have been down, but the War Eagles were not out. A five yard rushing touchdown and a missed two point conversion made the score 36-18.
Abilene High’s defense finally managed to stop the Bobcats for the first time all night on the ‘Cats’s ensuing drive. However, a muffed punt by the Eagles gave San Angelo Central the ball right back on the Abilene High 21-yard line. To their credit, the Eagles’ defense held again forcing a field goal attempt by the Bobcats. Kicker Erick Rodriguez successfully made a long, 37-yard field goal to extend the Bobcats’ lead, 39-18.
As the 3rd quarter came to a close, the Bobcats’ defense managed to snag their team’s first takeaway of the ball game. With Abilene High driving, the defense punched the ball loose and scooped it up. Not only did this kill the momentum that the Eagles built on previous possessions, but put the game virtually out of reach. Malachi Brown and the Bobcat offense scored a few plays later on a 20-yard pass to Leifeste in the corner of the endzone. The successful point after made the game 46-18.
Although down big, Abilene High never truly went away. Opening up gashing holes in the Central defense, they managed to drive the ball down the field to put up another score. It ended up being too little too late, but the Eagles narrowed the deficit down, 46-25.
Entering the 4th quarter, the Bobcats went into clock management mode. No longer relying on the arm of Malachi Brown, the Central rushing attack received an opportunity to shine. Running back Samuel Navarette received the lionshare of the carries on the way to a three yard touchdown run on a drive that took more than four and a half minutes off the clock. San Angelo extended their lead again, 53-25.
The ‘Cats’ defense gave up another touchdown in garbage time as the back-ups came in, but managed to snag another takeaway to seal the game. The Bobcats won their conference opener and their first of the season, 53-32.
San Angelo Central dominated every aspect of this game. Offensively, the Bobcats put on a show that they had not managed to do so far this season. Quarterback Malachi Brown played a near perfect game, producing both on the ground and through the air. Finishing with five touchdown passes, he and the rest of the receivers put the Bobcats in a position to win.
The defense managed to do just enough to keep the game out of reach from Abilene High. Even though Central gave up some big plays, they showed up this week when it mattered most.
Timely sacks and opportune takeaways secured the victory tonight for the Bobcats. The three opponents the Bobcats faced to start this season toughened them up for the start of conference play. Each week that has passed saw a Bobcats team continue to improve. If the ‘Cats continue to play the way they did tonight, they have a chance at a district title.
The San Angelo Central Bobcats (1-3, 1-0) take on the Frenship Tigers (2-2, 1-0) next week Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., in Lubbock.