Sweetwater 24, Decatur 21 (November 30, 2002)
From the Abilene Newspaper:
STEPHENVILLE — Sweetwater’s Mychal Carrillo didn’t have his best football game during Saturday’s Class 3A Division II Region I semifinal playoff game against Decatur at Memorial Stadium.

But when big plays were needed down the stretch in Sweetwater’s pressure-packed 24-21 victory, Carrillo led the charge.

Trailing 21-17 in the closing minutes of the game and Decatur threatening to put the contest out of reach, Carrillo — usually hailed for his quarterbacking skills — came up with the biggest interception of his high school career.

That pick, which the 5-9, 170-pound senior snagged at Sweetwater’s 48-yard line, proved to be the difference as Carrillo scored the winning touchdown with 1:02 left seven plays later.

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be an all-day affair,” said Sweetwater coach Kent Jackson, whose 10-3 team will play Midland Greenwood — 42-20 winner over Ballinger — in the state quarterfinals at a time and place to be determined.

“We knew there would be big plays both ways,” said Jackson. “You are not going to have a team that put up that many points and not make plays.”

The biggest play came from the Mustangs on the final play of the game.

Decatur failed to respond to Carrillo’s game-winning, 5-yard touchdown run because the Mustangs’ Steven Reed intercepted a pass with 59 seconds left in the game.

The Eagles, thanks to their three timeouts, then got the ball back on their 45-yard line with 30 seconds remaining.

Having problems defending the pass all game long, Sweetwater gave up a 7-yard completion on second down as Decatur advanced the ball to the Mustangs’ 48-yard line.

Forced to attempt a “Hail Mary” with only five seconds left (Decatur’s third-down pass was incomplete), the Tigers’ quarterback Chandler Dane heaved a pass from near the 50-yard line.

There, at the goal line, getting his hands on the ball was Carrillo.

However, the ball deflected off his fingertips, right into the hands of Decatur’s Brian Christian, who was tackled at the 1-yard line by Jon-Eric McDonald.

“That last play was crazy,” said Carrillo, who finished with just 65 yards rushing and 1 of 3 passing for 20 yards. “I knew it was going to be a Hail Mary. That kid threw it a long ways. I tried to knock it down. Luckily, I had my teammates to pick me back up.

“They have a great program. We came out a little flat to begin the game, but we were always determined to win and never had doubt.”

Sweetwater lost fumbles on its first two drives of the game — one resulting in a Dane 5-yard TD pass to Christian to take a early 7-0 lead.

That lead could’ve easily been 14-0 if not for Michael Straley’s interception after the Mustangs’ second fumble.

“That interception was real big because it gave us some needed momentum,” said Straley, whose takeaway was the first of four for Sweetwater. “I didn’t even know who I was supposed to be covering. I was just reading his eyes the whole time, and he threw the ball where I went. I guess I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Straley’s timing aided in the Mustangs first score, as Josh Jackson tied the game at 7 three plays later on a 29-yard TD sprint up the right sideline.

Jackson ended with a team-high 120 yards rushing.

With 5:48 left to play and leading 24-17, Decatur started its potential game-icing drive at its 17-yard line.

The Mustangs then called their first timeout to stop the clock at 4:59, before forcing a third-and-18 situation.

And instead of keeping the ball on the ground to run more clock, Decatur elected to pass and try to pick up the first down.

However, that strategy didn’t work as Carrillo came up with the huge interception that ultimately turned the game around.

“That is one characteristic of this team … they just never think its over and always play down to the last second,” Jackson said. “This was a huge win for West Texas and the Community of Sweetwater. There is so much pride and tradition in this city. It’s just an honor to be playing in December.”

Photos from Decatur ISD web site

These website page is Copyright. Contents or HTML representation and Graphics are Copyright 2002, Wise County on the Web, and may not be copied or mirrored without prior written permission.