In a season where Ball High has continued to make history, the Tors ended another drought Friday night.
Playing in the postseason for the first time since 2009, the Tors won their first playoff game since 2003, beating the Houston Austin Mustangs in a 22-17 bi-district contest in the Class 5A playoffs at Kermit Courville Stadium.
“This win means a lot for us,” said Ball High quarterback Martavian Jackson. “It’s been years since we won a playoff game. We broke the curse. We put Galveston back on the map.”
Both teams were tied at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter before the Tors took a 14-7 halftime lead.
“It was a great win for our team,” said Ball High head coach Kimble Anders. “We played well. Austin came here and fought hard. We preach to the kids to fight hard for four quarters and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Mustangs struck first when quarterback Malik Hornsby scored on a 74-yard run with 5:42 left in the first quarter to give Austin a 7-0 lead.
“We’re coming from a program that a few years ago was 1-30 over three years,” said Austin head coach Robin Kirk. “These kids have fought and worked hard. This was a very good Galveston team and kudos to them. We fought hard and we’re a young team. We had a lot of young players. I’m proud of our kids. We had a great atmosphere.”
Ball High responded with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Donnavan Walker to tie the game up with 2:31 left in the first quarter.
The Tors took their first lead of the night off a scoring drive that was capped by a 6-yard carry by Deonte Hunt into the end zone with 11:19 left in the second quarter.
The Mustangs started the second half on a promising note.
Penalties pushed the Tors back to their own 46 late in the third quarter before Jackson’s pass on third down was intercepted by Kyron Hagan. A personal foul penalty put the Mustangs at the Tors’ 22.
“Way too many penalties,” Anders said. “That’s something that we have to get cleaned up. We’re going to work on that.”
A quarterback keeper by Hornsby resulted in a late hit, which pushed the Mustangs to the Ball High 8-yard line.
Hornsby scored on a 2-yard keeper and added the 2-point conversion on a run to give the Mustangs a 15-14 lead with 16 seconds left in the third.
A 65-yard kickoff return by Fox gave the Tors great field position on the second-to-last play of the third quarter.
The Tors built off the return with Nick Moore scoring on a 20-yard run with 10:47 left in the game and Ball High jumped back in front.
“Nick Moore and Hunt stepped up for us tonight,” Anders said. “They had a great chance to step up for us and they did.”
Jackson slid into the end zone for the 2-point conversion run to give Ball High a 22-15 lead.
“A lot of things went right for us. We had a lot of adversity but we fought hard and got kind of cold but fought back.”
With the Mustangs punting the ball with 8:38 left, Fox caught the ball and tried to get around the defenders, going in and out of the end zone before being brought down for a safety and Austin only trailed by five.
But Ball High’s defense held on for the win.
“It means a lot for us to get into the playoffs and to play at home,” Anders said. “It was a tremendous win for us and for our fans. To get that win and defend our turf was great.”
Hornsby ran for 88 yards off seven carries for the Mustangs while Michael Mata had 55 yards from 12 rushes.
Hornsby threw for 70 yards, going 10-of-24.
For the Tors, Jackson rushed for 25 yards off six carries, while Deonte Hunt had 117 yards off 19 carries.