Last Friday night, the Dublin Lions couldn’t stop Jack .... Whitten, that is. Whitten had 138 yards rushing on 15 carries and two scores. The Armadillo defense held the Lions out of end zone, only allowing two field goals as San Saba won the district opener for both squads, 24-6. Special teams added a 90-yard return for another score.
San Saba won the coin toss but deferred to the second half. Dublin returned the kick to the 31 to start play. The Lions used the spread offense and short passes to move the ball but the Dillo defense quickly forced a punt.
The Armadillo drive appeared to stall near midfield but a 5-yard running into the punter penalty gave San Saba a first down by inches. Jack Whitten capped the drive on a 29-yard run around the end. Diego Gonzalez added the PAT and the Dillos led 7-0.
The Lions came back using short passes and power runs to march down the field on 15 plays. The drive stalled inside the 15 and Eduardo Rodriguez came on to boot a 29-yard field goal. Dublin had used 6:34 on the drive. The score was San Saba 7, Dublin 3 at the end of the first quarter.
The next drive for San Saba ended with a Gonzalez punt. The Dillo defense held and forced a return punt with the Armadillos starting at the 30. The drive stalled inside the 20 and Gonzalez trotted out to kick a 34-yard field goal. This was the first field goal by an Armadillo since Chris Stanton kicked one in Ballinger in 2004.
Dublin ran out the remaining time and the score was 10-3 San Saba at halftime.
The Dillos started with the ball in the third quarter. Behind the running of Gary Gant and Jack Whitten, San Saba marched down the field. Whitten scored his second touchdown on another 29-yard run. Gonzalez converted the PAT and the lead was 17-3.
Dublin was not going to give up. The Lions came back with another long drive, but the Dillo defense kept them out of the end zone and Rodriguez added a 41-yard field goal to make the score 17-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ryan Plumley got a wall of blockers on the right side and raced 90 yards for a touchdown. It was the first kickoff return for a score since Jonathon Benavidez did it against Johnson City in 2005. It is the longest kick return since Landon Sanderson went 90 yards against Bangs in 1993.
The Lions marched down the field again but a fourth and goal at the 4 was stopped by San Saba. The Dillo offense was unable to gain a first down and Diego Gonzalez punted from his own end zone.
Dublin started in great field position at the Armadillo 34, but could not move the ball on the defense.
San Saba took over on downs at the 29 with 6:22 left in the game. With the help of some costly Lion penalties, the Armadillos were able to run out the clock. San Saba had the win by a score of 24-6. It is the first time since 2003 that the Dillos opened district play with a victory. San Saba went to the playoffs that year.
Jack Whitten led the rushing attack with 138 yards and 2 scores to earn offensive player of the game by the panel. Gary Gant had 55 yards and Dustin Morgan chipped in 26 yards.
Defensively, it was a team effort with several players having good games. Bobby Pairett, Tyler McIntosh, Jose Garcia, Chase Key, Anthony Salinas, Tucker Cromer, Jack Whitten, Gary Gant, Hayden Oliver, Joseph Henry, Dustin Morgan, Max Palacio, Willie Wiley and Ryan Plumley made key stops against the Lions spread offense. The panel was unable to decide on a defensive player of the game so they voted for a second choice. This was won by Tyler McIntosh. It was decided to give Tyler the honor this week with Joseph Henry, Bobby Pairett and Anthony Salinas getting honorable mention.
In other district action, Brady had the week off. Coleman routed Comanche and Bangs upset Early. This week, Early travels to Brady in the highlight game of the week, Comanche travels to Dublin and the Armadillos go to Bangs in a battle of 1st place teams. Coleman has the open week. Kickoff is set for 7:30. Come out and support the boys.