SAN ANGELO, TX — With the season on the line and playoff contention in jeopardy, the San Angelo Central Bobcats (2-4)(0-2) hosted the Midland High Bulldogs (2-3)(1-0) at San Angelo Stadium Thursday night, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. Following a string of losses that had to have left a bad taste in their mouth, the Bobcats finally claimed their first district win of the season, and did it in a dominating fashion. A smothering defense and an explosive running game paved the way to a 41-17 win over the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs won the toss and elected to receive for the opening kickoff. Beginning at the 30-yard line, the dynamic triple-option attack of the Midland High offense could grind out long, arduous drives. However, the Central defense had something to prove tonight and stuffed Midland High on three straight runs to force their first of many three-and-outs of the evening. The Bulldogs punted the ball away, and the Bobcats took over near midfield at the Central 41-yard line.
The Central offense got off to a hot start on the ground on their first drive. QB Tyler Hill had two big runs, one for 30 yards and another for 12, that put the Bobcats in the shadow of the goal line. Darius Floyd then delivered two straight carries for 7 yards and the first touchdown of the night. The Bobcats led early, 7-0.
The ‘Cats’ defense held up again on the ensuing possession. Although Midland High successfully ran the ball on their second drive, the Bobcats held firm, and the drive stalled. Safety Ty Casey made several plays during the campaign, including big-time hits that stopped the Midland backs cold. The Bulldogs ran eleven plays and gained multiple first downs, including a 4th down conversion. Ultimately though, the Bobcats forced another punt.
The Bobcats’ second drive of the night began at the Central 20-yard line. WR Keevon Rice took a jet sweep 20 yards down the field to Central’s 40-yard line. Next play, Rice caught a screen pass from Hill and, this time, sprinted 30 yards to the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line. However, a holding call canceled out the great catch and run and killed the drive’s momentum. Three straight incomplete passes by Hill brought out Central’s punting unit, and Midland High took over at the Bulldog 40-yard line.
The Bulldogs finally had success moving the ball after punting on their first two possessions. Once again, Midland High methodically moved the ball down the field, keeping the ball entirely on the ground. The ‘Cats defense held tough most of the time, but eventually, the Bulldogs wore them down enough to get into the end zone. Midland QB Landry Walls ran the ball in himself from four yards out, and the Bulldogs tied the game at 7-7.
Hill and the ‘Cats’ offense came back onto the field at the Central 30-yard line, hoping to regain the momentum of their first drive. Hill got things going with his legs when he broke off a 16-yard run on second down. Floyd added another bruising run when he cut back against the grain of the defense and flattened multiple defenders on his way to a 29-yard run to the Bulldogs’ 26-yard line. WR Baylor Johnson caught a nice pass from Hill to the 14-yard line, and Hill took the ball himself on a quarterback keeper for a touchdown. A missed extra point left the score 13-7, Bobcats.
Midland High’s dynamic offense finally started rolling following the second Bobcat score. It only took them six plays to go 80 yards and another touchdown. The Bobcats defense missed some due to sloppy tackles, and Midland High QB Landry Walls snapped off a 40-yard run for a touchdown. Midland High took their first lead of the night, 14-13.
Credit Darius Floyd for the majority of the work on the ensuing drive. Starting at the Central 35-yard line, Floyd had two straight carries, 29 and 17 yards, that took the ball inside the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line. Hill took a sack that pushed the ‘Cats back to the 25-yard line, and then two incomplete passes into the end zone brought up 4th and long. The field goal unit came onto the field for an attempt at three points, but the 41-yard field goal attempt missed wide to the left.
The missed field goal lit a fire underneath the defensive squad who had given up a long touchdown. Midland High ran two plays that went for minimal yardage, and on 3rd and a long five, the defensive line forced Walls to cough up the ball. Safety Sutton Graham dove on the football and gave the ball right back to the Bobcats’ offense.
The Bobcats capitalized quickly off of the takeaway. Following a carry for no gain by Hill, Floyd pushed his way to the 25-yard line. On the very next play, Hill followed some excellent blocking by his offensive line and carried the ball 25 yards to the house. Bobcats retook the lead, 20-14.
With under two minutes left in the half, the Bobcats’ defense had to make one more stop to keep the lead at halftime. Although they allowed a good chunk of plays — and yardage — at the beginning of the drive, the Angry Orange defenders eventually stopped the Bulldogs from reaching the end zone. Midland High made a 31-yard field goal as time expired, but the ‘Cats led at the half, 20-17.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Bobcats’ offense began their first drive of the 3rd quarter at the Central 41-yard line. In what looked to be the most complete drive by the Bobcats all night, a healthy dose of run and pass pushed the ball past midfield and into Bulldog territory. Hill completed passes to Rice and Box while Floyd continued to grind out hard-hitting runs up the middle. With the ball just outside the 10-yard line, Hill carried it himself to cap off the drive and score his second rushing touchdown of the evening. The Bobcats widened their lead, 27-17.
Ty Casey and Jah’Davion Roundtree made a significant play on the ensuing kickoff. A deep kick at the goal line allowed the two defenders to stop the kick returner cold the Midland High 10-yard line. Ty Casey made another huge stop on 3rd down later in the drive. The Bobcats got precisely what they needed, a huge stop with the lead midway through the 3rd quarter.
Following the punt, the ‘Cats, unfortunately, made their first mental mistake of the night. Hill had a great run up the middle but had the ball punched out from behind. The Bulldogs fell on the fumble and wrestled the ball back for their offense. This meant the ‘Cats D had to come up with back-to-back stops with little rest. The defensive line dug in their heels and blew up Midland High’s attempt at running the ball, and as quickly as the Bulldogs came onto the field, they had to punt the ball away.
The Bobcats’ offense came back onto the field at the start of the 4th quarter and repaid the defense with an 86-yard touchdown run by Tyler Hill, his 3rd of the night. The Bobcats pulled practically out of reach with this touchdown, 34-17.
With time running out in the 4th quarter, the Bulldogs were in a tough spot. If Midland High wanted to get back into the game, they had to start passing the football. They had initial success on the next drive with the ground game, but that took too much time off the clock. Walls forced a throw to an outside receiver, and CB Jacoby Yates picked him off the deflection. Yates sprinted to the endzone for a pick-six, but a block in the back called the ball back to the 32-yard line.
The ‘Cats offense had one more drive to put the game away, and they did it on the ground. Floyd pushed the ball into the red zone to the 12-yard line. Sophomore RB Tyree Brawlee had the first Varsity football carry of his career and made the most of it. That one carry took the ball into the endzone for his first touchdown. The Bobcats put the game to bed, 41-17.
The ‘Cats’ defense came onto the field for a final time as time expired. A genuinely inspiring effort for a rejuvenated defensive squad led the way to victory tonight, and the ‘Cats celebrated a 41-17 district win. The Bobcats are off next week but travel back to Ratliff Stadium in Odessa to take on the Permian Panthers (4-2)(1-0) on Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.