The game that many football critics have been predicting as the game of the year was finalized last Friday night as the Mustangs beat Lorena, 28-0, to move on to the Region 3 final game against the Navasota Rattlers, who beat La Marque, 31-20, in their regional semi-final game. Kick-off will be Friday night at 7 pm at Turner Stadium in Humble.

Although it appears that the Mustangs dominated from the opening kick-off, the game against the Lorena Leopards was a battle from the start. While Lorena touted a quarterback who averaged 152 yards on the ground and 142 yards through the air, the Chain Gang defense was only allowing 131 yards per game and only 53 of that on the ground, and had only given up 42 points all season.

The Mustang offense, led by quarterback Jimmy Salter, couldn’t hit the end zone in the first quarter. However, sophomore Deionte Thompson set the tone when he picked off Lorena’s Harris Coleman and returned it 73 yards to put the Mustangs on the board with just 7:12 left in the second quarter. Rodikson Cano’s kick was good and WO-S was up, 7-0.

The Chain Gang defense was able to keep Lorena out of the end zone and with just 27 seconds left before the half, Salter ran around the left side from just 11 yards out to put the score at 14-0 to end the half.

“We really played hard and were mentally ready for Lorena, as we should’ve been,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “They tried to throw in some multiple sets that we hadn’t seen and we had trouble lining up at first but we were able to adjust on the defensive side of the ball.”

After the half, the Mustangs kicked off to the Leopards but were able to hold them to three-and-out to give the ball back to the WO-S offense. Salter hit J’Marcus Rhodes on a 51-yard strike across the middle and there was no one to stop him as he cruised across the goal line with less than two minutes ticked off of the clock in the third quarter.

The Mustangs hit pay dirt again when senior Quentin Tezeno took the ball from the Wildcat position and broke several tackles before hitting the end zone from 20 yards out with 6:25 left in the game.

“We scored 14 in the each half and that was good enough to win it,” Thompson said. “We came to play and that is what the play-offs are about. “

The Chain Gang defense held Lorena’s Coleman to just 72 yards on 33 carries and was picked off three times, twice by Deionte Thompson and once by Rhodes. The Stangs also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that was recovered by Joe Lynch and Coleman was sacked five times.

The Mustangs now face the Navasota Rattlers, who are also 13-0. The Rattlers, who Thompson said compares to Central, are led by senior Kadarius Baker, who has thrown for close to 4,000 yards but doesn’t run the ball much to speak of. His top “go-to” guys are seniors Solomon McGhinty and Austin Collins, who both have over 1500 yards receiving and a combined 40 touchdowns. The top rusher, Xavier Creeks, has carried the ball 66 times for 759 yards.

“We will need to know where they are at all times,” Thompson said. “This is going to be a great football game that I will enjoy being involved in. It’s going to take 48 minutes to win this game.”

Leading the defense, the Rattlers have defensive tackle Jordan Wells and linebacker Jaylyin Minor. Navasota has posted five shut outs, with no one in their district scoring on them, and have only allowed 93 points to be scored on them.

“They will make plays,” Thompson said. “But we will make plays, too.”

The Mustangs have an opportunity to make history again this year. Only two other teams since the first WO-S football season have won 14 games.

“We’ve won 13 straight weeks and here we are looking at 14.” Thompson said. “These guys could make history if we prepare mentally for the game. They (Navasota) are after the same prize that we are.”

Tickets for the Friday night game at Turner Stadium will be on sale at the athletic office Thursday, Dec. 6 from 9 to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 7 – 9 to noon ONLY. Ticket prices for Adults are $8 and students are $6. All tickets at the gate are $8.

Directions to Turner Stadium in Humble (1700 Wilson Road, Humble, Texas 77338) are as follows: Take I-10 West to Beaumont. Take the College St. Exit (Old Hwy. 90). Make right onto College and follow through Dayton until you get to Beltway 8. Take Beltway 8 to the Wilson Rd. exit and make a right on Wilson.  Follow Wilson Rd. to Turner Stadium, which will be on the left.

Please join the Mustangs for the Big Blue rally in the main gym Thursday at 6 pm and cheer on the Mustangs as they get ready to beat the Navasota Rattlers.

Quarterback Jimmy Salter hands off to running back Abear Simien in the Mustangs 28-0 win. Simien had 18 carries for 83 yards. RECORD PHOTO: Meri Elen Jacobs