MCCOOL JUNCTION – The Mustangs were right there at halftime trailing by only six, but a Bluejay blitzkrieg after intermission changed everything.
The host McCool Junction Mustangs dropped a 26-0 first-round, Class D-1 playoff game Thursday to Guardian Angels Central Catholic (formerly West Point Central Catholic).
The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and exerted themselves down the field on a methodical drive into the Bluejay red zone.
The scoring chance was upended, however, when the Mustangs fumbled.
The Jays immediately set sail on a long drive of their own. They made a first-down on a gutsy fake punt on fourth-and-11 and a few minutes later completed a clutch third-and-11 pass.
A 9-yard TD run and a PAT pass that failed made it 6-0 Guardian Angels with just 1:12 left in the opening period.
Bailey made a big run for the Mustangs on the first snap of the second quarter, but the drive stalled.
On the ensuing defensive series McCool junior Kirkland Doht came within a whisker of making the grab of an interception, but it got away.
Bailey uncorked an artillery shot of a punt that pinned the Jays at their own 4 with 3:12 until halftime after McCool’s next offensive possession ground to a half. Sophomore Mustang Chance Chrisman made a highlight reel crunch that had fans on both sides gasping, but there was no more scoring before intermission.
On the opening snap of the second half the Jays got a length-of-the-field run for an apparent TD by Nate Hass. The score was called back on a holding flag, but all Hass did was run it in from even farther away a couple plays later. The senior popped through the defense and raced all alone for 71 yards to make it 12-0 at 10:56 of the third.
Moments later the Mustangs suffered another killer fumble on a high snap in their shotgun formation that set up the Jays’ offense at the McCool 17. From the 3 it looked like the Mustang ‘D’ had made the stop, only to have the Jays’ running back bounce off the initial contact, ricochet left and go in.
That made it 18-0 over the shell-shocked Mustangs with 7:54 still to play in the third.
Just when it looked like it couldn’t get worse for McCool it did when the Jays covered their own onside kick after the touchdown.
The Mustangs could not regain momentum and Central Catholic advanced to round two with a final Hass TD run of 42 yards in the third period.
The Mustangs rushed 39 times for 101 yards and were 2-9 through the air with one interception and 6 yards for total offense of 107.
The Bluejays countered with 258 yards on 38 carries, 32 more on 5-14 passing with no picks and 290 total yards.
Bailey carried 28 times for 87 yards in McCool’s cause. Hass had 19 carries for 183 yards and all four Guardian Angels’ touchdowns.
The Mustangs saw an excellent 7-2 season come to an end with the loss.
The Bluejays will carry a 7-1 record into the next round against Howells-Dodge, the state’s No. 1 team, Wednesday in West Point.