Living up to exactly what was expected, the Giddings Buffalo held tough against the Mustangs until the fourth quarter, when WO-S pulled ahead and finished the game strong, 34-14. The win moves the Mustangs on to the regional round where they will face the LaMarque Cougars (11-1) Friday night at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown at 7 pm.

“We’re still alive,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “I’m happy that we are still playing. It took us the first half to get into the game mentally after having to deal with our off week and then the game against Scarborough.”

The Mustang offense finished strong with a fairly balanced attack with 232 rushing yards and 141 passing yards. Quarterback Jack Dallas had 12 of 20 pass completions and 4 carries for 22 yards, including the first touchdown of the game.

After the opening kickoff, both teams traded three and outs before the Mustangs finally got on the board with Dallas’s quarterback draw from three yards out. Hector Vela’s kick was good and WO-S was on the board with less than 6 minutes off of the clock.

The Buffs answered right back as running back Raylon Hickey took the kickoff almost all the way back. Two plays later, Hickey tied the game at 7-7.

The Mustangs were able to answer back at the beginning of the second quarter. Running back Grant LaPoint-Teate, who finished the game with 174 rusing yards, took the ball in from just two yards out, after a 25-yard Dallas pass to Will Johnson set the Mustangs up at the two yard line.

The Mustangs went to the locker room at the half, up 14-7, after ending the second quarter, knocking on the door of the goal line when Dallas ran for 31 yards but was knocked out of bounds close to the end zone.

Giddings was not intimidated by the Mustangs and took no time putting seven more points on the board to tie the game to start the third quarter. WO-S answered back with a 11 play scoring drive of their own, most on the legs of LaPoint-Teate. Trey Baldwin did the honors to score six from just one yard out. Vela’s kick was no good, but the Mustangs were still up by 6, 20-14.

Baldwin would hit the endzone two more times late in the fourth to seal the game. The first of his last two was set up after the Mustangs went for it on fourth down and Dallas hit receiver Jeron Preston on a crucial nine yard pass to keep the drive alive. On the very next play Baldwin fumbled but Mustang Mandel-Turner King came up with the advancing ball and Baldwin took it in for the score on the next play. Vela’s kick was good and the score stood at 27-14.

Giddings took the Mustangs kick off for a ride again, stopped at the 28 yard line. Three plays later, Deionte’ Thompson jumped in front of the Buffalo receiver and took the ball 82 yards before being tackled at the 8. On the next play, Baldwin took the ball in for the final score. Vela’s kick was good, and with less than two minutes left to play, the Mustangs were up 34-14.

The Chain Gang defense held Giddings to just 7 first downs and 137 total offensive yards, and intercepted the ball twice, the first by Will Johnson early in the game.

“I was proud of the way Grant ran, and I felt like the O-line blocked well for us,” Thompson said.  “The defense did a good job, especially in the fourth quarter and when they needed to. We had a couple of big plays by our defensive backs, with two interceptions by DT and Will. The final score was 34-14 and the Mustangs are still alive.”

Next up for the Mustangs are the feisty Cougars of LaMarque, who beat Sweeney 19-7 last Friday. This will be the fifth meeting in school history between the two teams. The Cougars have won three of the last four outings and either won or played for the state championship those three years. In 2000, the Mustangs defeated LaMarque for the first time, 10-6, in the Astrodome and WO-S played for the state championship three weeks later.

“LaMarque is a perennial playoff team, but so are we,” Thompson said. “We have yet to play four quarters and we have some things to work on this week. Anything short of 48 minutes of play and we won’t make it.”

The Cougars, who run the Wing T with some spread sets, are led by #22 Alan Cooper, #24 Daequan Jones and #6 Ladarrian Ellis-Jones, who quarterbacked last year. Junior Jalen Williams is the quarterback for LaMarque. According to Thompson, they are the LaMarque of old with their speed, size quickness and tradition.

“We will be battling the Thanksgiving holidays and will have to have their undivided attention in practice in this week,” Thompson said. “But if the game is close late, I think we have a good chance.”

Tickets were only on sale this past Monday, but will be available at the gate for $8. Directions to Stall worth stadium (2100 East Archer Road, Baytown) are as follows: Take I-10W to Beaumont and on to Baytown. Exit Sjolander Road and take a left, going south. Go approximately one mile and turn right onto Archer Road. The stadium will be on the left. The Mustangs are the visitors.

Please come out and support the Mustangs.

Photo: Quarterback Jack Dallas scores the first touchdown on a quarterback draw. Dallas rushed for 22 yards and threw for 141. Photo by Meri Elen Jacobs