Mineral Wells Area News

Santo well-grounded in season-opening win

Santo well-grounded in season-opening win
August 28
17:31 2023


Special to Mineral Wells Area News

MINERAL WELLS –  Santo running back Memphis Prosser ran for three touchdowns and quarterback Hut Thornton added another as the Wildcats ran past Electra, 27-14, to open their 2023 slate.

The Wildcats (1-0) racked up more than 200 yards rushing in a game scheduled as a Santo home game but moved to Mineral Wells’ Ram Stadium because of poor field conditions caused by drought and inability to properly maintain Santo’s grass turf.

Wildcats quarterback Hut Thornton (1) heads for the end zone on this 17-yard first-quarter run to put Santo up 13-0 over Electra. Thornton rushed for around 130 net yards to help lead Santo to a season-opening win.

The kickoff time was also pushed back 30 minutes to 7:30 p.m. because of excessive daytime heat. Friday’s high temperature was recorded at 107 degrees Fahrenheit as recorded at nearby Mineral Wells Regional Airport.

Santo Head Coach Devon Mann said those changes did not impact his team going into their season opener against the Tigers (0-1).

“It doesn’t matter who we are playing,” Mann said. “We talked about that. It’s about us. It’s not about anybody else. It doesn’t matter the time. It doesn’t matter the location. It’s about us and taking care of us and executing and controlling our attitude and our effort. Wherever we play, man, we love the game of football and we are blessed to play the game of football and just excited to be here.”

Santo took control of the contest in the second half, taking advantage of some Electra miscues and poor punts, including one that went for zero yards, to gain excellent field position and take a 27-8 lead in the fourth quarter before the Tigers were able to tack on a late touchdown.

Santo running back Memphis Prosser (23) finishes off a 26-yard run for the Wildcats’ first score of the 2023 season in the first quarter of its 27-14 win over Electra. Prosser finished with three TDs on the night.

Mann said he was “proud of our kids’ effort. Execution-wise, we weren’t popping on all cylinders (in the first half). We weren’t going where we were supposed to be. The kids saw that and they focused and saw that and executed in the second half. Just a few miscues blocking here and there. I am super proud of these young guys taking the direction and really executing and taking it up a notch in the second half.”

Santo took the opening kickoff and picked up a couple of first downs, one on a personal foul penalty, before the drive ended at the Tigers’ 25. 

The Wildcats got the ball right back after recovering a fumble by Electra quarterback Collin McKiddy. Starting at Electra’s 48, Santo wasted little time striking for their first score of the season. RB Kalder Halbrook peeled off a 9-yard run followed by an 11-yard burst on a Thornton keeper. Two plays later Prosser took a pitch and raced around the right edge of the line, fought off a tackle attempt around the 5 yard line and fell into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown run.

Kicker Kevin Valenzuela booted the point-after to stake Santo to a 7-0 lead at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter.

Santo coaches called for a pooch kick to the right, which Valenzuela executed perfectly and caught Electra by surprise. Hunter Branham recovered and the Santo offense was back in business at the Tigers’ 35.

Seven plays later, Thornton scampered around right end and into the open, racing into the end zone from 17 yards out. Santo was up 13-0 after a missed PAT. The Wildcats’ signal caller unofficially finished with about 130 net yards rushing.

Moving into the second quarter, Electra answered on its next possession, one that saw its starting QB McKiddy having to leave the game after what appeared the back of his head striking the artificial turf on a hard tackle. His replacement moved the ball, aided by a 35-yard pass completion and a third-down pass goof for a 13-yard score. A two-point conversion was successful and Electra was within 13-8 midway through the second stanza.

After a Santo punt, the Tigers had the ball at midfield and moved to Santo’s 17 but a fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete as Santo’s defense held with 45 seconds left and the Wildcats gladly took a 13-8 lead  into halftime.

A scoreless third quarter led to some early fourth-quarter fireworks. Santo began a possession late in the third quarter at its 46. Thornton reeled off a fourth-and-two run good for 34 yards to move Santo to the Tigers’ 12 yard line. A 10-yard holding penalty pushed Santo back. But two plays later, it was Prosser finding the end zone once again, taking a pitch 19 yards to the paint. Valenzuela’s PAT had Santo up 20-8 early in the fourth quarter.

Electra’s next possession left it punting from its own 17. The punt was badly shanked, going for zero yards. Santo took over at the Tigers’ 17. Santo was unable to capitalize, however,with the possession ending in a 13-yard tackle for loss.

A 28-yard punt return by Prosser had Santo’s offense starting its next possession from Electra’s 32. Five plays later, Prosser scored his third touchdown of the night on a 13-yard run that once again went around the right edge. With 3:20 remaining, Santo was up 27-8.

Electra wasn’t going quietly into the warm August night. A 48-yard run cut through the Santo defense to make the score 27-14 after Electra failed on its two-point attempt.

Santo recovered the anticipated onside kick and went into victory formation to wind the remaining 1:33 off the game clock.

“I thought defensively we were flying around,” Mann said. “We have got to better tackling in the open field and quit arm tackling and stuff like that and that is going to come with drills and experience with some of these guys. The biggest thing is the kids stayed in the fight and they kept punching.”

Santo next travels to face Goldthwaite before a scheduled home game against Hamilton, followed by two road trips to Rio Vista and Muenster. Mann said the team hopes to play in its stadium on homecoming night Oct. 6 against Chico.

“We are waiting for Mother Nature to be good to us,” said Mann.

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