In a game full of big hits and big tackles from the defenses, the biggest tackle of all came from a player on the Armadillo offense. On a 4th down play with less than a minute to play, Anthony Salinas fumbled the ball and Indian linebacker Daniel Martinez scooped it up and raced towards a touchdown. Fullback Alex Cervantes chased Martinez down and tackled him at the Armadillo 30 with only 20 seconds left. Four plays later, San Saba had the 17-14 victory that clinched second place in District 8-2A and a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
The captain for San Saba for the game was senior Hector Jimenez. Jimenez walked out to midfield on crutches after surgery on his knee to repair extensive damage last week. San Saba won the toss but deferred to the second half.
The Indians could not gain a first down and punted the ball to San Saba.
The Armadillos started at the 45 but a penalty on 1st down pushed it back to the 40. On 2nd down, Jack Whitten, from the QB position, broke up the middle for a 41 yard gain to the Comanche 13. Gary Gant scored on the next play and Diego Gonzalez added the PAT for the 7-0 lead.
Comanche came right back and tied the score on a 5 play drive that was capped by a 41-yard pass from Jerick Roberts to Jeron Hohertz. Felipe Martinez put the PAT through the uprights.
The Dillos continued the offense success with a 6:25 drive that resulted in a 30 yard field goal by Gonzalez to make to score 10-7 in favor of the Armadillos.
On the first play after the kickoff, Indian running back Josh Feaster fumbled the ball after a 10-yard gain and Gary Gant fell on the ball at the Comanche 47.
Going for the jugular, San Saba tried a long pass but it was intercepted by Roberts at the 19.
As the second quarter started, Comanche was driving but the San Saba defense held on a 4th and short play at the Dillo 44.
The Armadillos could not move the ball and Max Palacio was called on to punt. Palacio was kicking into the wind and the punt only covered 23 yards.
The Indians were stymied by the Dillo defense and punted back to San Saba, pinning them at the 16 yard line.
Another Indian defensive stand forced Palacio to punt again and this time the kick went 24 yards giving Comanche good field position at the Armadillo 38.
The Indians were able to take advantage of the position and drove for the go-ahead touchdown. Roberts connected with Scott Bill in the end zone from 14 yards out for score. Felipe Martinez was true and Comanche led 14-10 with 2:26 left in the half.
A third Palacio punt put Comanche at the Indian 40 with only 50 seconds left. However, Comanche was not going to sit on the ball to end the half. Roberts guided the team down the field and hit Feaster on a pass as the half ended. Feaster was tackled at the Armadillo 2, preventing more points. The scoreboard showed Comanche 14, San Saba 10 as the teams went to break.
San Saba got the ball to start the second half. Using the ground game only, the Armadillos went 60 yards in 12 plays taking 6:01 off the clock. Hayden Oliver scored the touchdown from 3 yards away to put San Saba back in front. Diego Gonzalez made the score 17-14 with his PAT.
The Indians started to drive down the field but the Dillo defense stopped them just past midfield forcing an Indian punt. The kick rolled dead at the Armadillo 15.
San Saba was unable to move the ball and Max Palacio got off a 36 yard punt to put the Indians at their own 44.
Comanche moved the ball to the Dillo 27 but were stopped on a 4th and 1 play giving the ball back to San Saba with 8:35 left in the game.
The Armadillos failed to gain a first down and the punt went off the side of Palacio’s foot resulting in an 8-yard punt.
The Indians could not take advantage of the short punt and had to punt back to San Saba.
San Saba started at the 11 yard line. On 3rd and 11 at the 10, Ryan Pannell connected with Chase Key on a 13-yard pass for the first down allowing the Dillos to run more time off the clock. Facing a 3rd and 20, San Saba opted for a “quick kick” from Palacio who punted the ball to the Indian 31.
Four plays gained nothing and San Saba had the ball back at the Indian 26 with 2:00 left.
Three running plays and a timeout later, San Saba had the ball at the Comanche 20 setting up the heroics by Alex Cervantes on the Anthony Salinas fumble.
With the ball at the Armadillo 30 and only 20 seconds left, Jerick Roberts threw a 10-yard pass to Cody Riggs to stop the clock with 14 seconds left on the out-of-bounds play. The next 2 passes were incomplete and Comanche had one more chance left with 2 seconds left. Roberts was forced out of the pocket and pressured by some Dillos before being tackled for a 1-yard loss by Tucker Cromer after the buzzer had sounded to end the game and the hard-fought 17-14 victory for San Saba.
The win, along with Early beating Coleman and Brady defeating Dublin put San Saba at 4-1 in district assuring second place because the Armadillos hold the tie-breakers over Comanche and Bangs. Comanche defeated Bangs earlier in the season to claim any tie-breakers for 3rd place. The Brady win clinched 1st place for the Bulldogs. Brady will go into the playoffs as the Div 1 representative and San Saba will go as the first place team in Div 2 with Comanche as the 2nd place team in Div 2.
Jack Whitten led the Armadillo rushing attack with 110 yards on 13 carries. Gary Gant had 80 yards on 14 attempts and Hayden Oliver added 52 yards on 17 tries. Oliver and Gant tallied the two San Saba touchdowns. Gant had 3 catches for 39 yards and Chase Key added 2 receptions for 21 yards.
The defense was led by Tucker Cromer, who seemed to be everywhere. Whitten, Gant, Salinas, Wil Sloan, Tyler McIntosh, Key, Pete Torres, Diego Gonzalez and Juan Garcia added key stops and pass defense.
Comanche finishes the regular season at 8-2 with a 4-2 district record. Bangs travels to Brady this week, Dublin goes to Early and Coleman comes to Rogan Field for the season finale. This will be Parents Night and all players will be introduced with parents before the game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Come out and show your support for the team as they get ready for the playoffs.