It looked like it was going to be a shootout.
The offenses for Seguin and Antonian came out swinging Friday night in San Antonio, as the Matadors and the Apaches scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives for a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter.
But while the Apaches continued to put together scoring drives throughout the rest of the game, Seguin’s offense sputtered, and Antonian would go on to take the game, 42-21.
“We executed well,” head coach Travis Bush said after the game. “But they started doing some things on defense, especially with number 28 (Apache defensive end Devin Grant).
“We were running away from him in the first two series, but they started moving him around and he started taking over the line of scrimmage. They did a good job at the right time, taking over the line of scrimmage and causing some negative plays in the backfield.”
With Grant, who has committed to play at Colorado next year, in the backfield, the Matadors were backed up on many ensuing drives, forcing a number of play calls by Bush on fourth-and-long situations to try to keep pace with the Antonian offense.
Bush opted not to punt on fourth down on three different drives with the Matadors just inside Apache territory past the 50-yard-line, but all three attempts were unsuccessful.
“We knew early they were going to be hard to stop,” Bush said. “We knew their offense was good, that they were going to score points. If we weren’t scoring with them, we had to find a way to gain some extra possessions.
“We knew we needed to go for it on some of the fourth downs, it’s just part of game management. In a game like that you’ve got to find a way to get some extra possessions.”
The Matadors had a chance to get back in the game in the third quarter.
With Antonian leading 35-14, Clark Ullrich got things started with a 40-plus yard kickoff return to the 50-yard-line. Mickles hit wideout Dravan McKnight for 19 yards for the big play on the drive, then scored on an option play from nine yards out to make it 35-21 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
Bush had one more roll of the dice in him and on the ensuing kickoff, tried an onside kick.
Kicker Garret Stiles bunted it perfectly and got his hands on the ball for the recovery, but it bounced out of his arms and Antonian recovered.
McKnight was a force throughout the game, catching several balls in the flat and turning them into more than 10 yard gains with tough running over and through Apache defenders.
“He’s a junior and hadn’t played much,” Bush said. “He missed one early, but all he needed was one to get him going and he made some crucial catches and big runs the rest of the ballgame.”
Seguin’s offense looked good on the opening two drives, mostly on the feet of running back Marques Washington, and on crisp passing from quarterback Jhalen Mickles.
Washington ran the ball five times for 30 yards, and Mickles completed three-of-five throws to move the Matadors right down the field on the opening series.
Washington took it in from two yards out to finish the drive, and Seguin had an early 7-0 lead.
After Antonian scored on its first drive to tie it, the Matador offense went to work again.
Washington accounted for most of it, popping off a 37-yard-run to get it into scoring position.
Washinton then completed the drive with runs of 10 and five yards to punch it in again for his second touchdown of the game.
“Marques ran well and Jhalen made some good decisions with the football,” Bush said.
Bush thought his young team accounted well for themselves in the contest, despite the youth and several new starters on both sides of the ball.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys on defense,” he said. “We asked the kids after the game who had played in their first varsity game, and more than half the team raised their hand.
“Give them (Antonian) credit, they are a good football team. They’re an experienced, veteran team playing against a young, inexperienced team, and that’s what it looked like.”
The game gave Bush and his staff a chance to see what they need to do differently for the rest of the year.
“We’ll look at the film and see if it’s personnel issues, if we have some of the guys in the right spots, or if they were just winning those one-on-one battles,” Bush said. “We’ll look at each opponent each week and find a way to attack them.”
For the game, Washington ran the ball 23 times for 157 yards and the two touchdowns.
Mickles, who went to the bench after being “banged up a little bit” for the fourth quarter, finished 18-25 for 158 yards and ran it in for his lone score of the night.
McKnight led all receivers with 12 catches for 157 yards.
The Matadors move on to face New Braunfels in the Guadalupe River Bowl next Friday night at Matador Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .