IRVING - With cowbells ringing from a hearty crowd that traveled to the big city, Van did everything right in the first half except for a failed onside kick. No problem.
The Vandals methodically built a 40-point lead behind the passing of Garrett Moseley and the receiving of Isaiah Allred then cruised to a 54-7 win over Mineral Wells in a second-round Class 4A Division I playoff game Friday night at Joy and Ralph Ellis Stadium.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Van coach Jared Moffatt said. “I’ve been on both sides of games like this and it feels much better to be on the good side. Our kids just were ready to play and when things went our way early, we just got on a roll and stayed after it. That was a good team we played tonight and I am excited to be going to the third round.”
The Vandals improved to 11-1 and will now face Paris in a playoff run that is deeper than any during Moffatt’s seven-year tenure at Van.
Moseley is a quick field general who throws a tight spiral that was equally effective with or against a brisk wind. With a cool breeze blowing from the north, the junior quarterback completed 13 of 15 passes for 223 yards during the first half with Allred catching two of them for scores. Allred also hauled in a 29-yard halfback pass from Van’s versatile running back Cameron Bledsoe. Later in the first half, Bledsoe slammed over from the 7-yard line for a rushing TD.
It was Bledsoe who provided a defensive spark for Van early in the game with an interception at his own 12 and a 35-yard return. The Vandals led 6-0 at the time after Moseley opened the scoring with a 3-yard keeper, but Mineral Wells put together a good response by driving down to Van’s 33. But on first down, the Rams’ quarterback threw deep and Bledsoe picked off the pass and added to the Vandals’ momentum.
“Bledsoe is a three-year starter and has overcome some injuries to be playing really well right now,” Moffatt said. “I am so proud of all of them tonight because they just continue to play hard every play.”
Moseley was surgical the rest of the first half with Van scoring on all six possessions. The final TD of the first half was a 1-yard thrust by Moseley with only 15 seconds remaining until halftime. Van amassed 336 yards in the first half with 252 through the air and 84 on the ground. The Vandals’ defense asserted itself as well by limiting Mineral Wells to 102 yards total offense.
In the second half, the Vandals took the air out of the ball by sticking to a running game. Van only attempted one pass in the second half and turned the ball over to Reid Thomas, who rushed eight times for 54 yards. Van increased its lead to 47-0 midway in the third quarter when Bledsoe plunged in from a yard out to cap a 34-yard drive set up by an interception by Sam Reeves.
With Moseley relieved by Jaxon Taylor, Van continued to run the ball and play solid defense. The Vandals then padded their lead when linebacker Michael Huffer scooped up a fumble and raced 65 yards for a score with 9:40 left in the game.
Late in the final quarter, Mineral Wells averted a shutout when Tristan Perry passed five yards to Andy Garcia.
VAN – Garrett Moseley 3 run; kick failed (9:47 1st Q)
VAN – Isaiah Allred 53 pass from Moseley; Alex Vazquez kick (6:57 1st Q)
VAN – Cooper Bledsoe 7 run; kick failed (11:18 2nd Q)
VAN – Allred 37 pass from Moseley; Vazquez kick (6:53 2nd Q)
VAN – Allred 29 pass from Bledsoe; Vazquez kick (3:43 2nd Q)
VAN – Moseley 1 run; Vazquez kick (0:15 2nd Q)
VAN – Bledsoe 1 run; Vazquez kick (5:44 3rd Q)
VAN – Michael Huffer 65 fumble return; Vazquez kick (9:40 4th Q)
MW – Andy Garcia 5 pass from Tristan Perry; Gabriel Bonifacio kick (3:13, 4th )