There have been bigger wins for the Tascosa Rebels in coach Ken Plunk’s 13-plus seasons at the school, but that didn’t make what happened Friday night against Midland Legacy any less satisfying.
It wasn’t a playoff game or even a district matchup in very early September at West Texas A&M’s Buffalo Stadium on a neutral field. But Class 5A Tascosa showed why it has been and will be a force to be reckoned with, as Class 6A Legacy couldn’t stop Tascosa’s ground-bound offense as Tascosa rolled to a 48-27 victory.
Plunk has taken Tascosa (2-0) to a pair of state quarterfinal appearances, so beating Legacy (1-1) isn’t quite a signature win, but it was nonetheless an impressive victory.
“I would rank it up there,” Plunk said. “As nondistrict wins it ranks up there with any I’ve had. We just have a great rivalry with Midland Legacy and have for years and this is just the second time we’ve beaten them.”
It could be considered an “upset” since Legacy is a highly-touted 6A program, but with a homefield advantage (albeit on a neutral field), it’s a mistake to underestimate Tascosa. If you were to look for a prototypical win which explains Tascosa’s success over the last four-plus seasons in particular, you could do worse than this one.
After a relatively lukewarm performance last week in a 35-7 season-opening win over Palo Duro, Tascosa returned to its prolific ways running the ball, gashing Legacy for 414 yards rushing. That seems like it would be the perfect execution of a typical Tascosa game plan, but Plunk said that wasn’t a huge chunk of the script.
“It was exactly the opposite of the game plan,” Plunk said with a chuckle. “I wanted to throw it. We were gaining yards though. We really thought we were going to have to throw the ball to beat them. They go so fast on offense that they don’t get a chance to rest on defense.”
Tascosa took advantage of a short field on the first possession and cashed in on a 16-yard scoring run by Tayden Barnes for a 7-0 lead. That didn’t last, though, as Legacy pulled off an 87-yard kickoff return for a score off a reverse by Deonta Sonnier to tie it 7-7.
Otherwise, though, the first half belonged to Tascosa. Hudson Farris, Barnes and T.J. Tillman all scored on the ground to end drives and give Tascosa a 28-7 lead in the second quarter.
Barnes used his speed on both sides of the ball, gaining 73 yards on seven carries and also making big plays at safety, including forcing a fumble by Legacy’s Zeke Luna inside the Tascosa 5-yard line in the second quarter.
“We were the underdogs in the game and I give a lot of props and glory to our lineman,” Barnes said. “I knew it was going to be a big defensive game, and that’s a big fumble for us which switched momentum drastically.”
With 30 seconds left in the half, Legacy’s offense finally got in the end zone Madden Milloy’s 4-yard run to cut it to 28-14.
It would have been a good enough note for Legacy to take into the lockerroom at halftime, but Tascosa mishandled the ensuing kickoff, giving Legacy the ball at Tascosa’s 13. Legacy cashed in on the final play of the half, as Luna, who had a game-high 203 yards on 31 carries, fought into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 28-20.
If there was a turning point it came when Tascosa got the second half kickoff. Legacy had a huge upper hand with Tascosa facing a third-and-28 at its own 12, but Tascosa’s Treshun Wilson took the ball on a straight dive play and rumbled 51 yards into Legacy territory.
That was the highlight of the night for Wilson, who led Tascosa with 101 yards on 15 carries.
“I wasn’t looking to score, I was just trying to play my role,” Wilson said. “Thanks to the O-line, we all worked hard all week. It’s not really a big deal to me. Whatever the coaches need me to do I’ll do for them. I was just trying to get us out of that spot and get us upfield.”
That set up a 4-yard scoring run by Barnes to make it 34-20 and put Legacy back in the hole.
“Whenever it’s working why stop doing it,” said Legacy coach Clint Hartman of Tascosa’s approach. “We let them make first downs on third downs and they get you tired when they need them. That’s what they like to do.”
The loss gave Legacy a split with the Amarillo ISD schools to open the season, as Legacy routed Amarillo High in Midland 47-21 last week.
Legacy answered back less than a minute later when Marcos Davila hit Brex Stephens on a 56-yard scoring pass to cut it to 34-27 but never got closer. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Farris scored on a 1-yard run, then with under eight minutes left and Legacy driving, Davila was picked off by Aushaun Wilson, who returned it 94 yards for a score to clinch it for Tascosa.
Zag Edwards almost joined Wilson in the 100-yard club with 98 yards on 11 carries.