SWEETWATER — The Bangs Dragons either didn’t know or didn’t care that they were the underdogs as they stunned the highly favored Idalou Wildcats 23-6 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater.
Idalou (8-3) came into the game rated second in Region I-2A, but the Bangs (9-3) defense stopped the powerful Wildcat running game, holding them to a season low six points including shutting them out in the second half.
“We knew they had a great football team ” Dragon head coach Chuck Lipsey said. “We knew that if we could come in and play with them for four quarters, we had a shot.”
Idalou’s Koal Houchin received the opening kick but got little running room as he was tackled by Josh Beckwith on the Idalou 3. Idalou made one first down in the opening series, then punted the ball back to the Dragons.
Bangs went to work on its own 49 yard line as J.T. Newton found Gabe Perez for 31 yards to move the ball deep into Wildcat territory. Next, Newton found Matt Carter for 12 yards, and it seemed that Bangs was going to draw first blood. The drive stalled, however, and Idalou took possession on downs.
For the next several minutes, both teams exchanged downs in the middle of the field until 4:11 to play in the opening quarter. Idalou scored on a 41-yard run by Houchins that was set up by an interception by Travys Bravo. Matt Garcia missed the extra point but Idalou was on the board 6-0,
After a solid kick return by Bangs’ Trenton Morgan, the quarter ended with the Dragons on the Idalou 17 trailing 6-0.
With 11:56 in the first half, Logan Dent kicked a 34-yard field goal to make the score 6-3.
Idalou took the kick off but could not move against a stingy Dragon defense.
Beckwith later ran 47 yards the Idalou 35 where Newton threw a 35-yard pass to Carter with 6:23 left in the half to give the Dragons their first touchdown of the night. Dent’s kick was good and Bangs led 10-6.
The Dragons kicked off to the Idalou 17, but a face mask penalty in the same series moved the Wildcats back. With four minutes to play in the half, nose guard Andrew Quintana snagged an interception to give Bangs excellent field position on the Idalou 34. Senior Gabe Perez later caught a 34-yard touchdown pass with 3:24 in the half. Dent’s kick was wide, but the Dragons led 16-6
Inspired by the offense, Bangs defense continued to hammer away at the Idalou running game. Baylen Horton sacked Seth Reagan for an 8-yard loss with 52 seconds left in the half and the Dragons took a confident 16-6 lead into the locker room.
“We knew coming in here that the key to beating them was to stop them from getting those long drives,” Lipsey said. “That’s how they had beat people all year. Our defensive coaches and defensive players did a great job.”
The third quarter was a battle of defenses, with the Dragons forcing the Wildcats to abandon their running game to try to move the ball through the air.
Bangs was able to score on a long nine-play drive, which included two fourth down conversions.
Newton threw a 25-yard pass to Cameron Deal on fourth down with 1:31 to play in the third and Dent’s kick was good as Bangs went up 23-6.
Idalou was not going to go quietly and fought hard in the fourth quarter to try to get back in the game.
With 7:02 left to play, the Wildcats were on the Dragon 18 threatening to score. Once again, Bangs’ pesky defense came in and thwarted by Idalou every effort to get in the end zone. After a long fight, the Dragons stopped Idalou on the Bangs 9 to take possession with 5:19 left in the game.
The Dragons were trying to run out the clock but gave the ball back to the Wildcats on downs with 2:40 left in the game. But Carter intercepted the ball with 2:23 to play and the Dragons let the time tick away as the celebration began.
“You know that makes it so sweet. When you can come in here and beat a team of their caliber, that says a lot about our kids,” Lipsey said.
Bangs will meet Eastland 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene Wylie.
BANGS 23, IDALOU 6
Bangs 0 16 7 0 - 23
Idalou 6 0 0 0 - 6
First Downs 11 10
Total Offense 302 238
Rushes-Yards 35-102 37-215
Passing Yards 200 23
C-A-I 9-17-1 4-12-3
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Penalties 6-30 3-41
Punts 4-37 3-41