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San Saba shakes Forsan in hard-fought bidistrict win

Amy McDaniel
San Angelo Standard-Times
San Saba's Wesley Lackey (10) runs during the 2020 season.

WALL — San Saba High School changed its offensive strategy in the second half and pulled away from Forsan for a 31-17 victory in a Class 2A Division I bidistrict football game here Friday at Hawk Stadium. 

Trying to get some offensive spark, the Armadillos turned to a wildcat formation with Wesley Lackey taking the direct snap to open the third quarter and used a stiffer defensive effort to outscore the Buffaloes 21-7 in the second half.

The Dillos (8-2) advance to play No. 9-ranked Panhandle, a 55-7 winner over Hale Center. The area-round game is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Henrietta. Forsan ended its season at 5-5. 

It was a big rebound for the Dillos, who lost 48-6 to Cisco last week in the regular-season finale, losing both the district championship they were playing for and a game at Rogan Field for the first time in three years.

"Obviously, their coaching staff had a good game plan, but our coaches came back and made adjustments," said Lackey, who led the team in rushing with 124 yards on 13 carries.

San Saba and Forsan were tied 10-10 at halftime, and the Buffaloes were set to take the second-half opening kickoff.

The Armadillos forced a 3-and-out on Forsan's first possession, and then San Saba drove 77 yards, capped with a 21-yard touchdown run by Justin Yarbrough to take a 17-10 lead with 8:51 to play in the third quarter.

Forsan made things interesting when — facing another potential three-and-out possession — Major Stockton hit Joshua Cervantez on a 70-yard TD bomb on third-and-long to tie the game back up at 17-17 with 7:43 to play.

But that was the last time Forsan got into the end zone.

San Saba took the lead for good less than two minutes later when running back Stone Sears scored the first of his two second-half TDs out of the more traditional offensive set the Dillos used to seal the win.

Lackey said the wildcat formation was something the Dillos have slowly worked into their offensive scheme. It was enough to keep the Buffs guessing to open the second half.

"Our coaching staff is unbelievable; we're very grateful to them, and you just gotta trust the process," Lackey said.

San Saba head coach Andreas Aguirre said it was hard to get past the loss to Cisco, and the Buffaloes weren't going to make it easy on them.

"Hats off to the Forsan Buffaloes, they did a tremendous job," Aguirre said. "They hit us in the mouth, and they were definitely executing their game plan and getting after us. It took a little while (to get over the loss), and a lot of people were nervous about that, but we're not going to make excuses about who was there, who wasn't there. We just didn't get the job done, and that was on me as a coach."

San Saba had athletes missing from the lineup against Cisco because of injuries and COVID-19 quarantines but rebounded for a hard-fought win against Forsan.

"We're getting to play one more week, and in this crazy day and age with COVID and things, we're just one day at a time, one week at a time. And we're thankful we got to compete for one gold ball, and we won a gold ball, so let's get out there and get another one next week," Aguirre said.

Yarbrough, who rushed 10 times for 76 yards, said he had faith the team would not only bounce back from the loss but overcome Forsan in the second half.

"We came in a little rusty, but in the second half we just woke up and did what we were training for this whole week," Yarbrough said. "I had full faith in my brothers. I knew we'd pull it off.”

For the Buffaloes, the loss was disappointing but head coach Jason Phillips said his young team can take encouragement from the way it finished its season.

"We did some good things in the first half, but they're a good football team," said Phillips, who is in his 11th season as head coach for Forsan. "They're the real deal. They had that state ranking for a reason. We had our chances, but it slipped away at the end, and that had a lot to do with them."

San Saba opened the 2020 season at No. 10 in the state and rose all the way to No. 6, a spot they occupied through the season until the loss to then No. 8 Cisco.

Phillips said most of his skills players are juniors, and the Buffaloes also have some offensive linemen who will return next season.

Forsan was 3-7 last year and 1-9 the year before that. Friday's matchup was the Buffaloes' first playoff game since the 2016 season.

"Our seniors have come a long way, and they did a great job of leading this team and getting our program going back in the right direction. This year is definitely something to build on," Phillips said.

The teams battled evenly in the first half, as the Dillos blocked a Forsan field goal attempt to preserve a 10-10 tie. San Saba led twice and Forsan once.

The Dillos took the early lead on Yarbrough's field goal and reclaimed it with a 6-yard pass from Risien Shahan to Logan Glover with :21 to play in the first quarter.

Forsan used a strong running game featuring Nate Hernandez and Chris Mendez to take a 7-3 lead with 2:58 to play in the first quarter on Colten Wallis' 1-yard run.

The Buffs tied it back up again on Nolan Park's field goal with 2:38 to play in the first half.

San Saba 31, Forsan 17 

San Saba    10    0    14    7 — 31

Forsan            7    3    7    0 — 17 

First Quarter 

SS – Justin Yarbrough 28 field goal, 6:13 remaining 

F – Colten Wallis 1 run (Nolan Park kick), 2:58 

SS – Logan Glover 6 pass from Risien Shahan (Yarbrough kick), :21 

Second Quarter 

F – Park 21 field goal, 2:38 

Third Quarter 

SS – Yarbrough 21 run (Yarbrough kick), 8:51 

F – Joshua Cervantez 70 pass from Major Stockton (Park kick), 7:43 

SS – Stone Sears 5 run (Yarbrough kick), 6:11 

Fourth Quarter 

SS – Sears 6 run (Yarbrough kick), 9:31 

                        SS               F

First downs     18               19

Rushes-yds   47-233      50-217    

Passing yds     246             144

Comp-att-int   8-18-0        9-23-2    

Punts-avg.    4-29.0           3-42.0

Fumbles-lost    1-0              3-0   

Penalties-yds  4-40            4-25

INDIVIDUAL STATISITICS

Rushing – San Saba: Wesley Lackey 13-124, Justin Yarbrough 10-76, Stone Sears 16-27; Risien Shahan 8-6. Forsan: Nate Hernandez 18-70; Major Stockton 14-61; Sawyer Stallings 4-44; Chris Mendez 14-42.

Passing -- San Saba: Shahan 8-18-0 for 246. Forsan: Stockton 6-15-0 for 145; Stallings 3-8-2 for (-1).

Receiving -- San Saba: Reagan Mejia 2-114, Logan Glover 3-107, Lackey 2-21, Drake Bryant 1-4. Forsan: Joshua Cervantes 1-70, Stallings 1-43, Brandon Valdez 1-25; Ethan Harbour 3-8; Stockton 1-3, Cayden Morgan 1-(-2), Mendez 1-(-3).