ABILENE, TX — With a playoff berth already in hand, the San Angelo Central Bobcats (4-6) (2-4) traveled to Shotwell Stadium in Abilene to take on the Abilene High War Eagles (7-3) (5-1) tonight, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Early turnovers by the Bobcats’ offense in conjunction with Abilene High’s high-octane offense made for an unfortunate combination for playoff-bound ‘Cats as they fall tonight, 49-14.
Receiving the opening kickoff, Abilene High started with the ball at the War Eagle 25-yard line. The Bobcats’ defense successfully contained the talented RB Da’King Thomas on the ground, and after seven plays, Abilene High punted the ball away. The Bobcats took over at the Central 33-yard line, and after three plays, the ‘Cats faced a 4th and one at the Central 42-yard line. QB1 Tyler Hill kept the ball himself on 4th down but failed to get the first down. Abilene High took over at the Central 41-yard line.
Abilene High’s offense finally came to life during their second possession of the game. Behind the legs of Da’King Thomas, the Eagles drove the ball 41 yards down the goal line. The Bobcats managed to hold the Eagles out for two straight plays, but a quarterback sneak by Abel Ramirez scored the opening points. Abilene struck first, 7-0.
The Bobcats took over at the 30-yard line following the War Eagle touchdown. San Angelo’s rushing attack picked up steam as the O-line put their noses down and exerted their will on the Abilene High defensive front. Tyler Hill, Darius Floyd, and Samuel Navarrette equally shared the load as the Bobcats moved down the field. Hill broke off a 15-yard chunk that pushed the Bobcats across the mid-field stripe. A face mask on that tackle added another 15 yards, and the Bobcats moved into the redzone. Two plays later, Hill lofted up a fade to the corner of the endzone, and Jacob English came down with the ball. The Bobcats tied it up, 7-7.
Central’s defense continued to have trouble with RB Thomas on the ensuing War Eagle drive. On the first play following the kickoff, Thomas took the ball, broke several tackles, and juked his way into a 75-yard touchdown run. The Bobcats needed to find a way to stop the big plays on defense as the War Eagles pressed their advantage, 14-7.
The ‘Cats committed the first turnover of the contest on the proceeding possession. Hill misfired on a pass attempt after taking over at the Central 36-yard line, and Abilene High made the Bobcats pay with an interception. The War Eagles then drove the ball 49-yards in the other direction for another score. Thomas took an outside hand-off and beat the Bobcats to the endzone on a 12-yard score. Abilene High extended their lead, 21-7
The ‘Cats needed to answer on offense to keep pace with how fast Abilene high kept scoring. A good kick return by WR Keevon Rice started the Bobcats with excellent field position at the Central 40-yard line. A short, five-yard pass and a strong run by Hill pushed the Bobcats into War Eagle territory. On the next play, Samuel Navarrette exploded out of the center of the defense and sprinted 45 yards to the house. The ‘Cats answered back as the wild 1st quarter came to a close, 21-14.
The scoring kept coming after the Bobcats’ score. With the ball on the Abilene 25-yard line, the War Eagles methodically pushed the ‘Cats’ defense further and further back. The defense forced Abilene High into a 3rd and long early in the drive, but a missed tackle on the QB Abel Ramirez allowed the Eagles to convert. A missed coverage on Abilene High receiver allowed an easy pitch and catch for another touchdown. Abilene led, 28-14.
The track meet finally came to a halt on the ensuing Bobcat possession. QB2 Ben Imler came into the game for Tyler Hill to lead the Bobcat offense. The Eagles stopped Floyd for a short gain and then did not allow the Bobcats to get another first down. The Bobcats punted the ball away, and Abilene High took over at the Eagle 40-yard line.
Central’s defense answered right back, however, getting their first takeaway of the ball game. After surrendering a first down to the Eagles, the Bobcats took advantage of a poor exchange on a handoff to the Abilene High running back. The ball fell to the turf, and the Bobcats immediately dove on the live ball.
The ‘Cats offense, now being led by QB2 Ben Imler, came back out after their defense rewarded them with a takeaway. However, a holding penalty erased an outstanding catch by Keevon Rice, and the ‘Cats never recovered. After three more plays that only netted the ‘Cats five yards, the offense punted again. It only took the War Eagles four plays to drive the ball 55 yards and another Abilene High touchdown. King snapped off another huge 41-yard run, and the Eagles extended their lead yet again, 35-14.
With the half coming to a close and the game in danger of getting out of hand, the Bobcats went into their hurry-up offense and tried to score one more time before the half. Imler connected with WR Keevon Rice for 18 yards and Jacob English for another six to put the ‘Cats near midfield. Imler then launched a pass deep down the field that did not have quite enough power behind it. As a result, the pass fell short of the intended receiver, and Abilene High intercepted the ball at the Eagle 18-yard line.
Following the turnover, Abilene High still had 58 seconds to go in the half. The Eagles ran their hurry-up to perfection, moving the ball down the field in huge chunks on every play. The Bobcats never found a way to contain the offense, and the Eagles scored for a final time in the first half. The ‘Cats headed back to the locker room down big, 42-14.
The struggles continued on offense for the Bobcats after receiving the second-half kickoff. WR Keevon Rice took a shovel pass for 15-yards to midfield for a first down, but after that, the production stopped there. Darius Floyd rushed for three yards on first down, the defense threw Navarrette for a loss of six yards on second down, and an incomplete pass from Imler on third down brought out the punting unit.
The Bobcat defense came up with a big-time stop following the punt. With Abilene High driving, the ‘Cats defense firmed up just outside the Central 35-yard line. After forcing two straight negative plays and an incompletion, the ‘Cats defense put Abilene High in 4th and long situation. On 4th down, DT Andres Sanchez overpowered the offensive lineman in front of him and sacked the quarterback for a loss of seven yards. The Bobcats took over at the Central 42-yard line.
The ‘Cats failed to take advantage on offense following the stop. On the first play of the drive, Imler held onto the ball just a little too long and then attempted to throw the ball deep. The extra time Imler took to launch the ball allowed the safety to catch up to the receiver and make another interception.
Central’s defense continued to play well in the second half. Although Abilene High led by a wide margin, the defense continued to fly to the ball. The Eagles claimed a few first downs on their next drive but stalled out around midfield. The defense forced another punt, and Imler and the offense looked to score.
Entering the 4th quarter, penalties and mental mistakes continued to kill the ‘Cats on offense. They never managed to get anything going in the second half. Because of the score, the War Eagles forced the Bobcats to become a one-dimensional offense. An unsportsmanlike penalty 2nd down pushed the ‘Cats back deep, and they never recovered. Another punt ended the hopes of a comeback in this game.
After the game, San Angelo Central Head Coach Kevin Crane said he did not know why QB1 Tyler Hill was removed from the game. See the video interview below.
Abilene High added one more touchdown before the end of the game, and the Bobcats enter the playoffs following another frustrating defeat, 49-14. The ‘Cats travel to El Paso next Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 pm. Their exact opponent is still to be determined.