With the game on the line and eight seconds remaining, Eric Carreon’s patience began to wear thin.
The senior kicker drilled a game-winning, 26-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 22-21, victory over Southmoore Friday at Bronco Stadium. But with three flags and two timeouts preceding the kick, all after a 48-minute seesaw affair, he was just ready to get the win and go home.
“With all those penalties, I really just wanted to get the kick over with,” Carreon said after the game. “I knew I had it in me. It was an easy chip shot that I make in practice all the time. But man, it seemed like it was going to take forever.”
The game’s rollercoaster ending mirrored the prior 48 minutes. The Broncos allowed 14 unanswered points with two turnovers in the second half, squandering a 10-point lead before forcing a safety that led to the game-winning drive.
Mustang’s defense stuffed Southmoore tailback Satayven Chaves into his own end zone for two points following a Rae’Quan Wicks interception at the Bronco two yard-line. Two minutes later and after six runs for 39 yards by Carlos Thomas (Jr.), Carreon sealed the game.
“I knew he was going to make it all along,” Mustang coach Jeremy Dombek said. “There’s so many phases to make sure on there like the snap and the hold or if we’re going to block. But he’s a senior and he’s made some big kicks for us before. We knew he had it in him.”
Mustang’s defense stepped up when called upon, primarily down the stretch. The Broncos not only held a Southmoore offense averaging over 38 points per game to just three touchdowns, they also produced three key stops, including the safety, while trailing in the fourth quarter.
“Those were huge stops against an explosive offense like that,” Dombek said. “We thought in this game that our best defense would be when our defense wasn’t on the field. But when they were out there when it counted, they came through.”
The Broncos executed their game plan early, owning time of possession with just nine pass attempts after the teams opened the game with two scores on the first two drives. Altogether Mustang rushed on 58 of its 76 plays from scrimmage, limiting Southmoore to just 46 plays for 321 yards total with two interceptions.
Quarterback Brayden Garrett (Jr.) and Thomas totaled 260 of Mustang’s 269 rushing yards. Garrett carried the load in the first half, rushing for 53 yards and a score while passing for 126 yards with a touchdown strike to Damian Close (Jr.). And even after two interceptions, including one in the final minutes, Garrett never lost faith.
“It was bounce back and pray to God let’s make it happen,” he said. “Mustang is known for toughness and discipline, especially in the fourth quarter. That’s when we played like we should have and how we’re expected to.”
Thomas took the reigns in the second half, rushing for 96 of his 174 yards in the final two quarters – none bigger than his final 39.
“We knew our endurance was better,” Thomas said. “We were going to play four quarters and they started wearing down on those final plays. I think that’s what got it for us.”
With the win, Mustang locks up a three-seed in the Class 6A-1 playoffs with just one game remaining. And the Broncos avoid having to travel to Jenks for the first round. But it wasn’t the postseason implications that had the Bronco coaching staff celebrating Friday.
“One of my favorites,” Mustang coach Jeremy Dombek said of where the game ranks on his all-time list. “Just because of this team. It feels like it’s been a rollercoaster year, but we’re sitting here now at 7-2. A lot of teams in the state would love that.”
Mustang closes out the regular season against Tulsa Union next Friday at Bronco Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with senior night festivities prior to the game.