Thanksgiving came early for the Bandera football team when it turned the Cuero Gobblers into drumsticks in a close 16-15 win on the road on Friday, Oct. 11.
The victory is particularly meaningful for the Bulldogs because it makes them a perfect, 6-0 to start the year and gives them their first district win against a Cuero team that is the defending Texas state 4-A champion.
Bandera faced some trying circumstances in taking on the Gobblers, including a tiring, 140-mile, one-way trip to Cuero, where brisk, 50-degree weather and 30 mph winds awaited the team.
It may have seemed like those factors took a toll on the Bulldogs, as Cuero took the opening drive 75 yards for a score with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs bounced back, however, on their first offensive play when the team used a shift formation that allowed tight end Mason Phair to get wide open for a 60-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Solomon MacNeil.
Blaise Salazar’s kick was good, resulting in a 7-7 score.
The teams exchanged possessions back and forth without scoring for most of the first half until Bandera struck again late in the second quarter.
McNeil was looking for receivers under strong Cuero pressure when he saw an opening and scrambled down the left sideline for a 35-yard TD to take the lead, with Salazar’s conversion, 14-7.
The reigning state champs came back late in the third quarter for a rushing touchdown followed by 2-point conversion to take a 15-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
But with less than eight minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs forced Cuero into a safety that gave Bandera a one-point lead.
Bulldog linebacker Gage Brown intercepted a deep pass later in the last quarter to ensure the Bandera win and to keep the Bulldogs undefeated this season.
Bandera had 90 rushing yards to 131 for Cuero, and the Bulldogs had 117 yards passing to 4 yards passing for the Gobblers, officials said.
Perhaps the most important stat of the night, after the score, was team turnovers. Cuero had five turnovers (four fumbles and one interception) to zero turnovers for Bandera.
Colton Perkins and Tyler Moore were named Bandera’s Defensive Players of the Week, Logan Williams was the Offensive Lineman of the Week, and MacNeil was named the overall Player of the Game.
The Bulldogs travel to Wimberley on Friday, Oct. 18, looking for a second district win, which coaches said would secure a playoff spot for the team.