The Bandera varsity football team finished up the 2020/2021 season Friday night on the road in Pearsall, where they fell just short of knocking off the Mavericks in a heartbreaking 24-22 finish.
The Bulldogs opened the game by marching down the field with ease behind the play of quarterback Tyler Moore, wide receiver Brandon Miller and running back Luke Barnett. The 10-play drive stalled just outside the red zone, but Bandera still struck first on the scoreboard thanks to a 36-yard field goal by senior Blaise Salazar.
Pearsall was able to jump on top and take a 7-3 lead on their first offensive possession of the night, but the Bulldog defense caused all sorts of trouble for the Mavericks after that first possession.
Freshman Jesse Cardenas came up with an impressive interception on Pearsall’s second drive when the Mavericks faced a 3rd and 12, and Will Paul intercepted the Mavericks’ quarterback on a deep pass later in the second quarter. Additional ly, Zach Lowhorn recovered a Pearsall fumble that was forced by Kaelob Son in the second half.
Despite the turnovers, Pearsall eventually extended its lead to 14-3 before Bandera answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Moore to Brandon Miller. The Mavericks regained control with another score of their own before Moore and Miller connected again, this time from 58 yards, to make it 21-16 Pearsall with 10:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks proceeded to chew up five minutes of the final frame on their ensuing offensive drive before the Bulldog defense held strong inside the 10-yard line, forcing Pearsall to settle for a field goal that made the score 24-16 with 5:07 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs never panicked, though, and went to work marching the ball down the field. It took just seven plays for Bandera to answer the Mavericks again, this time on a wild 33-yard touchdown run by Moore. Moore had his eyes down field looking for a receiver on 4th and 10 before taking off down the right sideline and eventually crossed all the way back across the field before diving into the end zone for the score. Unfortunately, the Mavericks were able to get a stop on the necessary 2-point conversion to hold on for the 24-22 victory.
Offensively, the Bulldogs were led by Moore, who finished with 177 yards passing, two touchdowns, 102 yards rushing and a score. Barnett had 41 yards on the ground, while Miller totaled 7 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
In addition to the turnovers forced by the defense, Cardenas had eight tackles, Paul had nine and Bryce McClerran had seven.
Despite falling short of the playoffs this season, Bandera will have several key returners on both sides of the ball for next year as the Bulldogs begin their off-season program on Monday.
The Bandera coaching staff thanks the seniors who finished out their high school football career in a hardfought battle on the field against Pearsall, including Harvey Guerra, Blaise Salazar, Will Paul, Irving Rodriguez, Colby Kennedy, Ethan Ledesma and Garrett Meier.