Broncos lose Heart of Texas Bowl

reprinted with permission for the Roswell Daily Record

Posted on 04 December 2011 .

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco football team huddles up for a final time after falling to Navarro in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl, Saturday. (Ashton Coll Photo)

COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Momentum is a fickle thing. Sometimes seemingly insignificant plays can swing momentum in a team’s favor or, as in the case of the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos football team, a big play turns the favor.

Unfortunately for NMMI, the play that swung momentum went against them and the Broncos were never able to recover in a 40-24 loss to the Navarro Bulldogs in the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl at Bulldawg Stadium on Saturday.

The play that gave the Bulldogs the momentum came on the Navarro kickoff following a 28-yard field goal by Trevor Pinkston that cut the Bronco lead to 24-13 with 6:44 left in the second quarter.


Pinkston kicked off after his field goal and it was a high, short kick that the Broncos couldn’t field. NMMI’s J.R. Watters ran up to try to catch the kick, but when the ball hit the ground, it caromed off the leg of Watters and was recovered by the Bulldogs.

Navarro took advantage of the NMMI miscue and, four plays later, the Bulldogs’ Gerard Shillow scored to cut the lead to 24-19 after a failed extra point.

NMMI coach Josh Lynn said that the muffed kickoff was probably the play of the game.

“Any time that happens, especially against a good team like Navarro, that changes momentum,” he said. “That was probably the play of the game.”

The score remained 24-19 at the start of the third quarter and, on the Bulldogs’ second possession of the half, they took the lead for good.

After forcing a NMMI punt, the Bulldogs took over on their own 29. After a false start and run, Navarro face a second-and-9 at its own 30 and quarterback Adrian Nelson hit his big-play receiver, Marquez Clark, on a pass down the left sideline. The 51-yard hookup gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs on the Bronco 19 and, two plays later, Nelson found Eddie Johnson for a touchdown that gave Navarro a 26-24 lead that it would not surrender.

The Bulldog defense forced another punt on the ensuing possession and, on its next drive, Navarro took control of the game with another touchdown drive that pushed its lead to 33-24.

NMMI’s best chance to get back in the game came on its next possession when David Vega hit Lamiquell Roberts on a 21-yard pass that gave the Broncos a first-and-goal from the Bulldog 1.

On first down, the Broncos tried to catch the Bulldogs off guard by having Vega take a quick snap from under center, but he was tackled for a half-yard loss. On second down, Celento Hairston appeared to break the plane of the goal line and was immediately driven back, but the referees didn’t see it and ruled him down at the 1. The Broncos went back to the sneak on third down, but Vega was stuffed at the line of scrimmage again and, on fourth down, Lynn decided to go for it. Max Thompson got the call on fourth down, but he was tackled for a loss at the 3.

Vega said that he was surprised by the inability to punch it in.

“Nothing really changed (on Navarro’s defense in the second half),” he said. “We were inside the 10, but we just couldn’t capitalize. How can you not punch it in on first-and-goal from the 1? That is just ridiculous.

“It is super frustrating. As soon as we got off the field, the frustration hit. We have been a team that has been able to capitalize all year. They just had our number at the goal line.”

Vega said that the Bulldogs sent more people than the Broncos could block.

“They weren’t really re-establishing the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They were getting penetration and that killed us. Most of our guys got on their blocks, but they brought too many and we couldn’t pick them up.”

With Navarro’s offense pinned back after the goal-line stand, the Bronco defense couldn’t come up with a big play and, on the Bulldogs’ first play of scrimmage, Tyler Middleton ran up the middle for a 53-yard gain. Five plays later, Middleton punched it in for a touchdown that gave Navarro a 40-24 lead.

NMMI would get two more chances to get back in the game after a Navarro fumble and high snap on a punt set the Bronco offense up inside the Bulldog 20. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they didn’t score any points on those two drives.

Navarro held NMMI scoreless in the second half and Lynn gave the Bulldog defense the credit.

“Navarro’s defense played well in the second half,” he said. “We couldn’t get back into our rhythm and that is a credit to the Navarro defense. They made great halftime adjustments. That was a big series down there on the first goal-line stand they had. They beat us and that is the bottom line.”

Vega finished the game, his last as a Bronco, with 163 yards and one interception, which came at the end of the game.

Posted in Bronco Football

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