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Brookesmith upsets Blanket, closes in on first district title in 35 years

Mike Lee
Special to the Brownwood Bulletin
Brookesmith's Johnathan Willoughby breaks away for yardage against Blanket in a 2019 game.

BROOKESMITH — The bridesmaid finally upstaged the bride. The assistant coach finally beat his former boss. And the third time was finally a charm. All in one football game.

The Brookesmith Mustangs, who had finished second to Blanket in district the last two years, beat the favored Tigers 68-52 Friday night. The win gave Scott Edmondson, a five-year former assistant coach at Blanket, a win in his third attempt against his former boss, Tigers head coach Tyler Tabor.

“I’m a little shell-shocked right now,” Edmondson said after his 20-point underdog Mustangs improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in District 15-1A (six-man) Division II. “They’ve beat us out for district the last two years, but I told our kids that this was our time.”

If Brookesmith can finish the job next week and beat Sidney, the Mustangs can earn their first district championship since 1985.

Sidney is 5-3 overall and 2-1 in district, and the Eagles were competitive in a 24-point loss (52-28) to Blanket. 

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play for our first district championship in 35 years,” Edmondson said. “We’ve got to take care of Sidney. They’re a good football team.”

During Friday’s offensive slugfest, Brookesmith’s Avery Williford rushed for 218 yards and touchdowns of 44, 54 and 33 yards on just 13 carries. The sturdy-but-fast 180-pound junior also returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown and caught a pass in the backfield and turned it into a 37-yard scoring play.

“This feels great. We’ve been working for this for the last two years,” said Williford, who also intercepted a pass on defense. “The difference tonight (compared to the last two years) is that we played with heart. It was just a back-and-forth game.”

Senior Johnathan Willoughby added 116 yards rushing and touchdowns of 5 and 20 yards for the Mustangs. He also threw the scoring pass to Williford. Teammate Randall Williams returned the opening kickoff 50 yards for a touchdown and scored on a 17-yard pass from Zack Ferguson, who threw for two TDs and intercepted a pass on defense.

“They’ve got two big, strong, physical backs, and we couldn’t tackle them,” Blanket coach Tyler Tabor said of Williford and Willoughby. “They played a little faster than we did tonight. My hat’s off to them.”

Blanket's Logan Wheeler carries the ball during a game in 2019.

After losing a bid for a third consecutive district championship, Tabor was obviously disappointed. But asked about losing to his former assistant, Tabor said of Edmonson: “He’s a good guy. He does things the right way. If I have to lose to somebody, I’d just as soon it be him.”

Blanket lost two of its top skill players during the game to injuries in Hector Castaneda and Damon Carrillo. But sophomore Brayden Day stepped up big for Blanket, rushing for 293 yards and TDs of 55, 22, 73 and 45 yards. Day had run for 508 yards in the Tigers’ first eight games this season.

“He has been steady, but he hasn’t been our workhorse back,” Tabor said of Day. “He hooked it up tonight for us.”

Blanket quarterback Carlos Morales finished 7-of-21 passing for 108 yards and TDs of 10 yards to Tyler Simpson and 65 yards to Hayden Rodgers.

Williford sandwiched scoring runs of 44 and 54 yards around a defensive stop that staked Brookesmith to a 22-8 first-quarter lead. The Mustangs never led by more than 18 points, but the Tigers never led after the first quarter.

The teams alternated scoring three touchdowns each during the first six minutes of the third quarter. But after Williford got away from two defenders along the sideline during a 33-yard scoring jaunt that gave Brookesmith a 68-52 lead, neither offense scored during the final eight minutes.

Each team threw an interception in the fourth quarter, Brookesmith’s defense held Blanket on downs, and the Mustangs ran out the final 3:18.

“I was afraid to ever lose the lead,” Edmondson said. “I didn’t want to give them any life. We intercepted two passes in the second half, and even though we didn’t convert either of them into touchdowns, we kept them from scoring.

“Blanket has big linemen, and they’re hard to move. I thought we blocked well and did a decent job of blocking them.”

Playoff seeding is no small matter in this district, which is aligned with 16-1A in the first round, meaning the runner-up will draw defending state champion Richland Springs.

If Brookesmith can finish off its district-title run next week and lock up the No. 1 seed, the Mustangs will play 16-1A runner-up Cherokee in the opening round of the playoffs.

Brookesmith 68, Blanket 52

Blanket    8    16    22    6 — 52

Brookesmith    22    20    20    6 — 68

First Quarter

BR — Randall Williams 50 kickoff return (kick failed), 9:51

BL — Brayden Day 55 run (Mario Morales kick), 8:49

BR — Avery Williford 44 run (Williams kick), 7:49

BR — Williford 54 run (Williams kick), 6:05

Second Quarter

BL — Day 22 run (Morales kick), 8:03

BR — Williford 54 run (Williams kick), 6:05

BL — Damon Carrillo 6 run (M. Morales kick), 5:50

BR — Williams 17 pass from Zack Ferguson (kick failed), 2:04

BR — Tristen Slayton 40 pass from Ferguson (kick failed), 0:46

Third Quarter

BL — Day 73 run (kick failed), 9:43

BR — Johnathan Willoughby 5 run (kick failed), 6:45

BL — Tyler Simpson 10 pass from Carlos Morales (M. Morales kick), 5:17

BR — Williford 37 pass from Willoughby (kick failed), 4:57

BL — Day 45 run (M. Morales kick), 4:36

BR — Willoughby 20 run (Williams kick), 3:43

Fourth Quarter

BL — Hayden Rodgers 65 pass from C. Morales (kick failed), 9:42

BR — Williford 33 run (kick failed), 8:33

                    Blanket    Brookesmith

First Downs    12    14

Rushes-Yards    26-344    31-332

Passing Yards    108    98

Total Yards    452    430

Comp-Att-Int    7-21-2    4-7-1

Punts    2-25    1-24

Fumbles-Lost    0-0    0-0

Penalties-Yards    1-10    5-40

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: Blanket – Brayden Day 15-293, Damon Carrillo 5-24, Hector Castaneda 3-16, Brady Furry 3-11. Brookesmith – Avery Williford 13-218, Johnathan Willoughby 16-116, Team 2-(-)2.

PASSING: Blanket – Carlos Morales 7-21-2 for 108. Brookesmith – Zack Ferguson 3-3-0 for 61, Willoughby 1-4-1 for 37.

RECEIVING: Blanket – Tyler Simpson 5-41, Hayden Rodgers 1-65, Furry 1-2. Brookesmith – Randall Williams 2-21, Tristen Slayton 1-40, Williford 1-37.

RECORDS: Brookesmith is 6-2, 3-0 in District 15-1A Division II. Blanket is 6-3, 2-1.