The Minarets Mustangs (0-6, 0-1) traveled to Caruthers Oct. 5 to play the Blue Raiders (2-4, 1-0) in the Mustangs first official league game as a member of the West Sequoia League. The Blue Raiders came away with a 35--9 victory.
Just as in the prior week's Orosi game, the Mustangs played inspired ball for the first half, trailing jsut 8-3 at the break after senior Jake Corchine's 21-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining on the clock. The Mustangs recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and took possession at the Blue Raiders 45 yard line with two timeouts remaining, but the Mustangs were unable to take advantage of the recovery.
The second half was a different story as the Blue Raiders made halftime adjustments and went on to outscore the Mustangs 28--6 in the final two quarters.
Down 28--3 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Keenan Reardon was pulled after taking a couple hard hits and replaced with Yosemite transfer Mitch Pritchett. The 6-foot-2, 180 pounder drove the Mustangs in for their only touchdown on the evening, a six yard completion to junior Sam Reyes. The PAT was good.
The Mustangs had plenty of opportunities throughout the game. On their first possession the Mustangs drove to within striking distance only to shoot themselves in the foot on a couple procedure calls and a dropped pass that would've given them possession at the 10 yard line.
The Mustangs receivers struggled throughout the evening. Reardon was 3 of 8 for 18 yards. The Blue Raiders were called for two pass interference penalties on fade patterns. While Pritchett was 3 of 11 for 14 yards, six passes were dropped from Minarets receivers -- 10 total on the evening.
On Minarets second series, junior Angle Saenz appeared to run the ball down to the Blue Raider two yard line for a first down following a 18 yard run, only to have the play nullified on a holding call.
The ground game wasn't much better than the air attack, as the Mustangs had 141 yards on 43 attempts. Saenz led all rushers with 43 had fought yards on 13 carries. Saenz also caused and recovered a Caruthers fumble along with nose guard Copper Manley. Junior Kyle Reed showed his breakaway speed on a couple end around runs, five for 38 yards.
In the end it was the Mustang's inability to make plays on crucial downs that cost them the game.
"Our team is continuing to play better each week," coach J Smoljian said. "I was happy how physical our players were on both sides of the ball against a good football team."
The school will host their first home coming game Friday as they host the Cowboys of Riverdale (0-6, 0-1). It was the Cowboys that knocked the Mustangs out of the basketball playoffs last season in a very heated battle that went down to the final seconds of regulation.
On paper this looks to be an even match-up. The Cowboys have scored just 34 points in six games and have surrendered 337 points. The Mustangs have scored 105 points on the season and have given up 231 points.
If the Mustangs can clean up their procedural problems and find an old can of stick-em, this could be the first win for the schools young varsity football program.
The Mustangs JV team, coming off back-to-back wins, took a bit of a step backwards as the Blue Raiders dominated from the first snap. Out weighted and outplayed, Minarets lost 41-0.
Varsity kicks off at 7:30 p.m. while the JV team plays at 5 p.m.