It was a typical West Orange-Stark versus Jasper clash when the Mustangs met the Bulldogs last Friday night at Turner Stadium in Humble. In a nail-biter game that went down to the last minute, the Mustangs defense held Jasper and walked away with an 18-16 victory. The Mustangs will face the Carthage Bulldogs Friday at the Thomas Center in Beaumont at 7:30 for the Regional title.

“We are still alive in the play-offs,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “I was proud of the way that we came back and fought late in the game. That 18-16 (score) will be etched in stone forever.”

Josh Tims put six points on the board when he picked up a Jasper fumble and ran it back 58 yards for the score. Jasper turned around and got on the board with a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter and the Mustangs led, 6-3 at the half.

The game didn’t get exciting again until Jasper scored with less than eight minutes left in the game. Jasper led 10-6, but the Mustangs quickly answered back with a touchdown of their own with 4:20 left when Chris James caught a six yard pass and ran into the end zone untouched. The Mustangs led 12-10 but a big 51-yard kick-off return by Jasper’s Derrodrick Hadnot gave the Bulldogs great field position and a huge roughing the passer penalty put them close enough to score again with 2:43 left in the game.

However, the feisty Mustangs didn’t give up and with little time left, Sterling-Cole hit receiver Dwain Boullard with a 41 yard pass that put the Mustangs on the three yard line. On first down, Chase Rutledge ran the ball in from three yards out, but the touchdown was called back on a holding penalty. On third down, Sterling-Cole hit Will Johnson just over the goal line for the winning score.

With a little more than a minute, the Chain Gang defense went to work and held Jasper for the win.

“I was so proud of their effort late in the game,” Thompson said. “Jasper brought their A game, but our kids bowed up when they had to for the win. On Jasper’s last series, we knocked down a couple of balls that we could’ve intercepted and then the sack by PJ (Paul Hebert) was huge.”

Next up for the Mustangs are the Carthage Bulldogs, who are 12-1 and beat Silsbee last Friday, 49-6. Their only loss of the season was to 4A Whitehouse early in the year. Carthage runs an offense and defense parallel to Silsbee.

“Carthage is a perennial play-off team who has won several state championships as of late,” Thompson said. “They do a lot of vertical passing, throwing down field and they also have a good running game.”

Carthage is led by senior quarterback Blake Bogenschutz, who is committed to play at UTSA. Bogenschutz threw for 139 yards and three touchdowns in the game against Silsbee. Terrian Goree and O’Keeron Rutherford are two of their top receivers and Tevin Pipkin is the favorite ball carrier, having three touchdowns on 11 carries for 213 yards against the Tigers.

“We are the only team still standing in southeast Texas,” Thompson said. “If we arrive with the same attitude and effort that we had against Silsbee and with a little bit of luck, we’ll make it. Anything less than our greatest effort won’t be good enough.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm Friday night at “The Butch” Thomas Center. Tickets will be on sale in the WO-S Athletic office Thursday, 9-12 and 1-3 and Friday 9-12 only. Adult prices are $8 and students are $6 with all tickets at the gate $8. The Mustangs are the HOME team.

Thanks to all of the neighboring school fans who cheered on WO-S against Jasper. Please come Friday night, wear your school colors and cheer the Mustangs on to a Regional victory.