LUBBOCK, TX — After achieving their first win of the season last week, and an opening district win, the San Angelo Central Bobcats sought to keep up the momentum as they challenged the Frenship Tigers tonight, Oct. 23 in Wolfforth. The Tigers, who also came into tonight’s contest 1-0 in the district, proved themselves a tough challenge for the Bobcats for much of this game.
Ultimately, however, the ‘Cats defense proved to be too much for the Tigers and the Bobcats won comfortably, 35-7.
The Bobcat defense came to play as they stonewalled the Frenship Tigers on the first Tigers’ offensive possession. The defense only allowed one first down and quickly shut down Frenship. Allowing only one first down during the series, the defense trotted off the field quickly. After the punt, the ‘Cats offense started their first drive at their own 35-yard line.
Although the Central offense had success on their first possession, penalties backed them up deep into their own territory. This did not stop QB Malachi Brown, however. On a long 3rd and 20, Brown winged a pass 30 yards down the field to WR Tripp Noble. The Bobcats continued to push towards the goal line when tragedy struck. An errant pass from Brown over the head of his intended receiver fell into the hands of Tiger DB K.K. Meier, ending the Bobcats’ first drive.
The Central defense needed another stop after the Bobcat turnover and delivered. The Bobcat defense smothered Frenship, again allowing only a single first down and forcing another punt. Starting their second drive at midfield, the ‘Cats capitalized quickly off the excellent field position, marching 50 yards in only three plays, moving the ball down to the two-yard line. RB Samuel Navarette capped off the quick drive the next play with a two-yard touchdown run. The Bobcats took the lead by a score of 7-0.
After the Central defense forced another punt, the ‘Cats’ ground game put on a show. Behind gaping running lanes created by the offensive line, Malachi Brown gashed the defense for big yardage on multiple designed quarterback runs. Another string of penalties threatened to stall the drive, but the Bobcats proved up to the task. Facing a 4th and five from Frenship 30-yard line, Brown hooked up with WR Jalen Leifeste to keep the drive alive. San Angelo Central continued to push, and Samuel Navarrette scored his second touchdown of the night, from 2-yards out, to extend the ‘Cats lead to 14-0.
A failed onside kick did not pan out for the Bobcats and set up the Frenship Tigers with great field position at midfield. This gamble proved costly for the ‘Cats as Frenship immediately took advantage of the short field, pushing the ball to the goal line in just three plays. The Central defense managed to stiffen up at the goal line, forcing the Tigers into a 3rd and goal, but inevitably surrendered the night’s first points by Frenship. WR Klein Coker scored on a short, three-yard touchdown reception from QB Corbyn Gandy, and Frenship narrowed the Bobcat advantage, down, 14-7.
The Bobcats’ offense continued to operate efficiently, pushing the ball down deep inside the red zone of the Frenship Tigers. However, facing a 3rd and short, Malachi Brown ran a quarterback keeper that led to another turnover. A Frenship linebacker managed to strip the ball away from Brown, and another defensive lineman covered it up. The Bobcats still controlled this game, but multiple mistakes kept the Tigers in it.
Following the turnover, the Tigers pushed the Central defense to the brink closing out the 2nd quarter. Driving the ball 90 yards in six minutes with no timeouts, the Tigers ran into trouble as time drained away. The ‘Cats eventually faced one final play at their own 5-yard line with 3 seconds left. Taking the “bend but do not break” philosophy to heart, Central stopped Frenship in their tracks at the 2-yard line as time expired. An excited Bobcats squad jogged back to the locker room at the half, still up, 14-7.
Receiving the second-half kick and set up by an excellent kickoff return to the Central 47-yard line, the Bobcats could not put anything together and punted the ball away. Moving the ball ended up not being a problem; however, penalties once again killed a Frenship offensive drive. Despite the pressure placed on them by the offense, the Bobcat defense answered again. A quick, three-and-out and an excellent punt return gave the ball back to the offense at the Tiger 10-yard line. Two plays later, Malachi Brown punched the ball into the endzone on a 6-yard quarterback keeper. The ‘Cats extended their lead again to 21-7.
Both teams’ defenses took over the remainder of the 3rd quarter. Neither offense managed to put anything tangible together. Most notably, the Bobcat defense, defending the shorter side of the field, shut down a 4th and five attempt by Tigers to flip the field back to the Bobcats’ advantage.
Entering the 4th quarter close to another score, the Bobcats failed to convert a 4 and 10 at the Frenship 10-yard line. With the ball, after the turnover on downs, and threatening to force their way back in the game, the Tigers finally made a critical mistake. Bobcat DB Kayden Hameister intercepted Frenship quarterback Corbin Gandy’s throw to kill the momentum the Tigers’ defense had built. Central’s offense responded to the takeaway and marched 65 yards down the field for another score. Malachi Brown connected with WR Seth Levesque for a touchdown and put the game away for the ‘Cats.
The Bobcats added to their lead again late in the 4th quarter. Brown made a short throw to Jalen Leifeste, who then took the ball 20 yards down the field for another score. Central proved to be too much for Frenship, and the ‘Cats spoil homecoming for the Tigers, 35-7.
The Bobcat defense deserves a massive pat on the back for the way they played tonight. Faced with multiple short fields and two turnovers by the offense, they only surrendered 7 points.
Those 7 points came from a Frenship team that has already proved earlier in the season that they know how to move the ball. The goal line stand at the end of the first half stood above all other accomplishments tonight. If the defense had allowed the Tigers to tie the game up at 14 heading into halftime, momentum could have carried the game in the opposite direction. The game-sealing takeaway in the 4th quarter is also worth noting. The Bobcat secondary badly needed improvement from the first few weeks of the season. Tonight, their hard work and practice showed. Central did not allow the same amount of huge plays that had doomed their previous outings. If the defense continues to play this way, the Bobcats have a legitimate shot at the district title this year.
After the game, Head Coach Brent Davis said, “Defense played good all night long...we had multiple 4th down stops and that goal line stand. If they (Frenship) got that momentum (in the 3rd) and it’s tied at halftime, it could have been a different game.”
Offensively, the Bobcats showed that adversity does not always end up stagnating production. On multiple occasions, Central backed themselves up with knucklehead penalties that can be easily avoided. Despite that, however, Brown and the rest of the offense continued to churn out large chunks of yardage and overcome that adversity.
In the future, it is always better to not commit those same penalties and turnovers, but the Bobcats proved tonight that if they execute, then they will continue to score.
Malachi Brown played quarterback at a high level, just as he did last week. He had one missed throw that cost the Bobcats, but immediately bounced back. Both through the air and on the ground, he has proven to be the major force in this offense.
The offensive line also controlled the game from the line of scrimmage. Most of the Bobcats’ success came from their ability to sustain drives. Without the openings the line created, Central could not have established a running game that carried them throughout the night.
San Angelo Central Bobcats improve to 2-3 on the year and 2-0 in district play. They look to build off the win tonight when they take on the Odessa High Broncos next week, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m., at San Angelo Stadium.