Steven Tims leads the pack to stop Cuero’s Jordan Whittington. Tims leads the defense in total tackles for the year with 195.

Meri Elen Jacobs – For The Record

In true fashion, the Mustangs came out and put on a show from the first play of scrimmage, but it wasn’t a one man show as every player, both offense and defense, had to do their part for the Mustangs to beat the stubborn Cuero Gobblers. The 41-28 win over the Gobblers sends the Mustangs to NRG Stadium this Friday to play the Celina Bobcats for the 4A-Division 2 state title at 4 pm.

“Then there were two,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “And that’s a big deal. We played a very physical team and I thought that we responded well. I wasn’t happy giving up the big plays but we made adjustments for the second half. We knew we were in a fight and we bowed up and won it.”

The Chain Gang defense started the game off by forcing the Gobblers to punt on their first possession. Quarterback Jack Dallas found a wide open Thomas Wallace streaking down the left side line on the first offensive play for a 58 yard touchdown. The two point conversion was no good, but the Mustangs were on the board, 6-0 with only two minutes ticked off of the clock.

The feisty Gobblers scored on their next possession when Cuero Quarterback Elex Martinez hit the end zone from 12 yards out.  The Gobblers onside kick worked and just three plays later, Martinez crossed the goal line to go ahead, 14-6.

Calm, cool and collected, Dallas and company moved the ball down the field, and on fourth down, Keion Hancock lined up at the wild cat and hit Wallace from 37 yards out for a touchdown to tie the game. The Chain Gang forced Cuero to punt after three plays and two plays later, Dallas, who seemed to be running for his life, hit a streaking Jay’len Mathews in the end zone to go up, 20-14.

On their next possession, on second down, Dallas hit Wallace for his third touchdown for the night from 80 yards out. Cuero’s Martinez was also able to sneak his way into the end zone before the half and when both teams headed for the locker rooms, the Mustangs led, 26-21.

The first two possessions of the third quarter, WO-S was able to tack on two more touchdowns. Dallas hit Jeremiah Shaw on a screen pass for a 21 yard touchdown. The two point conversion from Dallas to KJ Miller was good. The Dallas to Wallace combo scored the last touchdown from 22 yards out and Hancock’s PAT was good.

The Gobblers were able to score again on another Martinez run, and looked to be creeping up to score again when Martinez fumbled the ball and Jarron Morris recovered on the 9 yard line. On their next possession, Cuero’s backup quarterback was intercepted by Ronald Carter, ending any hopes of the Gobblers chances to win.

“We played a great football team Saturday,” Thompson said. “I’m thrilled with this victory. We need to be able to run the ball better. We are going to go about our work week like normal and focus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We are going to take care of our books, since it is exam week and get mentally and physically prepared for this week. This is the goal we set when the season started.”

Now the Mustangs will face Celina (15-0) for the state championship. Celina beat Gilmer, 49-44, in the last few seconds of the game when the Bobcats intercepted the Buckeyes in the end zone.

“Celina has several state championships and although we have faced them several times in track, we have never played them in football,” Thompson said. “These are the best two teams left in 4A and it should be one heck of a football game. You can through the stats and everything out the window now. We have to be the best for 48 minutes Friday.”

Celina, who is led by quarterback Connor Pingleton, runs a spread offense but will also play some old slot T/wing T. Pingleton has thrown for 3500 yards and 45 touchdowns and is also the leading rusher with almost 900 yards. His favorite targets are receivers Braydon Watson and Trayce Young and Jarren Alexander runs the ball.

“They run a defense like Newton with a single linebacker,” Thompson said. “They are pretty good on defense, but so are we.”

Thompson knows that this is something his players will never forget.

“I’ve told them to relish the moment,” Thompson said. “This week will come and go and things will happen that you will never forget. Enjoy every minute of it.”

Tickets will go on sale Wednesday in the WO-S athletic office at 9 am. Hours are 9-12 Wednesday and Thursday and 1-3 pm Wednesday. Pregame prices are $14 for adults and $10 for students with all tickets at the gate $15. NRG Stadium is located within the inner loop of the southern portion of Interstate Loop 610 between Kirby and Fannin Street.

The WO-S cheerleaders will host a community pep rally Thursday evening at 6 pm at the high school gym. The cheerleaders are offering to pain car windows between 4:45 and 5:45. There will also be spirit items for sale, including a program that can be autographed by the players.

Everyone is also invited to the send off Friday morning at approximately 9am that will begin at the high school. Family, friends and fans can line the streets and cheer on the players as they head to NRG Stadium.