BALLINGER, TX — A close game at half-time turned bad for the home team as things wore on.
Ballinger started off on their own 33. Three straight runs, including a six yard loss by senior quarterback Edgar Nunez, put the Bearcats in a tough 4th and 11. Nunez, who is also Ballinger’s kicker, caught the snap and prepared to punt, but Cisco got a hand on the ball and fell on it at the Ballinger 6.
On first down, running back Stanley Callahan took a pitch to the right and evaded several defenders to take an early 6-0 lead. The extra point would miss wide right.
Ballinger could not get things going on the next drive, either. Runs on first and second down moved the ball five yards. Nunez failed to to connect with his receiver on 3rd and 5, overthrowing an open wide out along the sideline.
Cisco fair caught the ensuing punt on its own 46. The Bearcats’ defense clamped down and forced a three and out by stopping two runs for 4 yards and batting a pass down at the line of scrimmage. Cisco punter, also its quarterback, Gibson Hearne placed a beautiful punt inside the 15 and his fellow Loboes downed it at the 12.
Six steady runs by tail back Cooper Bean and Nunez pushed the ball out of the shadow of their end zone and into opposing territory. Nunez then found junior Garrett Dixon down the seam for a nine yard completion.
A holding penalty on second down wiped out a first down run by Nunez and made it 2nd and 11 from the Bearcat 49. The error was inconsequential, however, and Bean took the next play right up the middle for a 51 yard score. Nunez and the field goal team tried a fake on the conversion, but the pass fell incomplete.
Cisco was determined not to stay tied for long, though. A pooch punt gave them decent field position at the 29, and Hearne kept the ball on first down and darted down the left sideline. He outran the entire Ballinger defense and coasted untouched for a 71 yard touchdown. 13-6 Cisco after a successful extra point.
Ballinger responded behind Nunez. The speedy signal caller rushed for gains of 8, 13, and 3 on consecutive plays. He then carefully placed a jump ball only where receiver Garrett Dixon could get it. The wide out hauled it in between a couple Cisco defenders and ran for a total gain of 27 to give them 1st and goal from the 8. The Lobo defense locked them up from then on out and forced a field goal attempt. Nunez drilled the 31 yarder right down the middle.
It was anyone’s game at halftime with a score of 13-9 Cisco, and it looked as if Ballinger would take the momentum after forcing a quick three and out to start things back up.
Despite the three and out, Ballinger’s offense seemed to run out of gas. Its first offensive possession started on the 25. Two runs only garnered 1 yard and the Bearcats were forced to pass on 3rd and long. Nunez targeted an open receiver on a deep hook, but the ball sailed over his target’s head and into the waiting hands of cornerback Dawson White.
White returned the ball to the Ballinger 33 and gave Cisco tremendous field position to extend the lead. A holding call on first down made things more difficult, but the Loboes would not be deterred and Callahan eventually punched it in on a 4 yard run.
Ballinger could not get moving once again when they received the following kickoff. The ball bounced around until returner Weston Rollwitz picked it up before being swarmed at the 6. Two decent runs gave them a first down, but incompletions killed the drive. On 4th and 6, Nunez lined up to punt, moved into a normal shotgun position, and then backed up to punt again. He then took the snap and looked for a streaking receiver down the middle only to fall incomplete.
The failed fake gave Cisco fantastic field position once again, and it began to impose its will on a worn out defense. Consistent runs of 5-10 yards, in addition to a face mask penalty, set up an easy quarterback sneak for Hearne that put the game away with 11:21 remaining.
Ballinger would try again to get some points, but could not get past midfield. Multiple penalties put them behind the sticks, so they were forced to punt. They would not see the ball again.
Cisco ran the ball down the field and the clock down to zero on an incredibly impressive final possession. Ballinger could not get off the field, and the Loboes casually took a knee as clock expired to end things 26-9.
Both teams are now 3-1. The loss puts Ballinger at 0-1 in the district and Cisco 1-0.
Meanwhile Week 5 marked the final high school football game for Ballinger senior running back and defensive back Peter Alfaro begins treatment for the rare low-grade muscular cancer Fibromyxoid Sarcoma.
To help Peter and his family with travel costs to Houston follow the link to the family's Go Fund Me Page.
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