2002 game captured drama of Yoakum-Cuero rivalry
Oct. 13, 2010 at 5:13 a.m.
Updated Oct. 14, 2010 at 5:14 a.m.
The pain in Brandon Mays' back was severe, but that wasn't why his eyes filled with tears.
Mays' emotions got the better of him after he led Cuero to a 10-3 win over Yoakum in overtime.
"I got so excited I cried at the end," Mays said. "I never thought I'd do that. It was happy tears though."
Nearly eight years have gone by since Mays passed for 92 yards and rushed for 59 to help Cuero defeat Yoakum. But memories of the 2002 game at Cuero's Gobbler Stadium linger.
Mays is a deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff's Department.
He still lives in Cuero and he recently won the MVP award in the South Texas Amateur Football League as the quarterback for the Cuero team.
But Cuero's win over Yoakum in 2002 remains special to Mays.
"We competed in everything," Mays said. "I remember even during track season we were always going for bragging rights. We're real close with those guys so we always talked trash.
"The older guys used to say you better not get beat by Yoakum. My older brothers played on the '93 and '94 teams and they told me I better not lose that game."
Cuero didn't figure to beat Yoakum in 2002.
Coach Jessie Crow's Bulldogs won the previous two games against the Gobblers. Yoakum came into the game with a 5-1 record and had opened district with an 18-10 win over Gonzales.
Cuero began the season with four consecutive losses before capturing a four-point win over Edna and opening district with a 40-0 win over Goliad.
But Yoakum and Cuero fans know the intensity of the DeWitt County rivalry, which will be played for the 100th time Friday night at Gobbler Stadium, often leads to the unexpected.
"We had started 0-4," Mays said. "We didn't want to be that Cuero team not to make the playoffs."
The 2002 game turned into a defensive struggle.
Yoakum had taken a 3-0 lead in the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by quarterback Randy Boone that followed a 14-yard run by Aaron Ward on a fake punt.
The score looked like it would stand when Cuero used its final timeout with Yoakum facing a second-and-eight at the Cuero 12-yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter.
But on the next snap - a play that will live in Yoakum football infamy - the Bulldogs fumbled the ball on a sweep and Cuero's Daniel Binz recovered it at the 10-yard line.
The play call is still the subject of conversation.
Crow said the Bulldogs needed one more first down to run out the clock.
Some Yoakum fans insist the Bulldogs should have taken a knee and forced the Gobblers to drive the length of the field with about 30 seconds remaining.
True to the nature of the rivalry, some Cuero fans have suggested Crow wanted to score again.
Mays was thankful for another chance.
He had neglected to wear a back flap and had taken a shot in the lower left side that made it difficult for him to walk.
But he completed five of eight passes on the game-tying drive, including a pass to Nick Taylor, who lateraled to Chris Taylor for a 27-yard gain.
Mays' final completion went for 11 yards to Nick Taylor before the quarterback spiked the ball at the Yoakum 16 with 2 seconds on the clock.
Mays recalls looking to the sideline and seeing coach Bill Littleton sending the field goal team on the field.
The decision wasn't a given considering kicker Jeremy Powell had yet to make a field goal that season.
Yoakum called a timeout to put more pressure on Powell, but the snap by Brandon Stafford was perfectly placed by holder Michael Johnson and Powell's 33-yard field goal was good on the final play of regulation.
Yoakum won the toss in overtime and elected to play defense.
Cuero drove the ball to the 1-yard line where Powell followed a block by guard Cody Wallace and center John Nessel into the end zone on a fourth-down plunge and Powell kicked the extra point.
Yoakum took possession and running back Anthony Harrison, who rushed for a game-high 123 yards, ran seven consecutive times around the left side to the 1-yard line.
But on the eighth play, Yoakum attempted to run a sweep to the right and a bobbled pitch set off a mad scramble before Cuero's Chris Taylor recovered the ball at the 35-yard line ending the game.
"It was a very competitive game," Mays said. "We couldn't get anything going the whole game. But we got that drive."
Yoakum bounced back from the loss, finishing in a three-way tie for the district championship with Cuero and Gonzales, before advancing to the Division II quarterfinals where it lost to eventual state champion Bandera.
Cuero would lose to Gonzales - the Gobblers' last district loss - and were eliminated in the Division II bi-district playoffs by Rice Consolidated.
Cuero leads the series 65-28-6 and has won the last eight meetings, but Mays has no idea what's in store for the centennial game.
He does know where he'll be Friday night.
"I'll be there," Mays said. "I can't miss it."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.