Christoval Cougars maul No. 8 Eldorado Eagles in stunning blowout

Amy McDaniel
San Angelo Standard-Times
Beau Jolly, center, rushes the ball for Christoval during a game against Eldorado on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

CHRISTOVAL — The atmosphere at Jack Pardee Memorial Stadium here Friday for a District 14-2A Division II football game was like that of a playoff game.

In front of grandstands on both sides packed with fans a whole hour before kickoff, the Christoval Cougars showed they’re the more experienced playoff team, controlling the tempo from the start and rolling to a 46-22 win over No. 8 Eldorado and likely securing a second consecutive district championship.

Christoval used an opportunistic and aggressive defense to build a 20-0 lead before the Eagle offense could cross the 50-yard line a single time in the first half and Eldorado played catch-up the rest of the night but fell short in an attempt to wrestle the gold ball trophy from the grasp of the Cougars and take it back home to Schleicher County.

Christoval head coach Casey Otho said he thought his team’s playoff run last year to the state quarterfinal round – where the Cougars played in three playoff games and won two – played a big factor in handing the Eagles their first loss of the season.

“We had four rounds of playoff experience last year,” said Otho, who coached the Cougars to their farthest venture into the 11-man playoffs in school history last year. “The greatest thing about this team is they know how to play in a big game. They know how to prepare for next week. And that’s what I take out of this game from last year, is their knowing how to prepare on a Monday, and a Tuesday and a Wednesday of a playoff game week.

“The further you get in, that experience adds up.”

The Eagles, which rose to the No. 8 ranking behind its high-flying passing game, might have had the state’s attention going into the game but did not have the playoff experience of Christoval seniors Josh Fava, Beau Jolly, Jake Boness, Brendon Wilcox and Tristan Bratton. Eldorado finished second in district play last year and beat Iola 51-44 in the first round before COVID quarantining shut down their season with a forfeit to D’Hanis in the area round game.

The Cougars mauled the high-flying Eagle offense and put up some offensive fireworks of their own to lead from start to finish for the win. 

Last year, Christoval won the district title by beating Eldorado 43-20. The year before, it was Eldorado after a 14-7 win.

Christoval's fast start stunned the Eagles and let them know it wasn't going to be easy to unseat the Cougars from the district throne. The Cougars took advantage of two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a safety while Josh Fava piled up 272 all-purpose yards to power the Christoval offense to 414 total yards and almost as many points as their two previous district wins (55-16 over Rocksprings and 53-0 over Menard.)

A key would be how well the Christoval defensive secondary played against Eldorado's speedy receivers Cooper Meador, Kaden Gonzalez and Jason Covarrubiaz. 

"Our goal was press up man on man the whole time and just see who is the tougher guy, and it ended up being us tonight, and then blitzing tonight just our lineman being dogs getting back there and using our speed," said Christoval senior defensive back Beau Jolly. "Meador's a great athlete. He mossed me on that one play (a 74-yard catch-and-run that set up Eldorado's first TD). But in the end, we just came out with the 'dub.'"

This game could have been a battle of two ranked teams as both were hovering just outside the state's top 10 going into the season. After Christoval fell on the road to Roscoe (42-30) in Week 4, it took a little shine off the matchup as the Eagles moved into the Top 10 with the one-loss Cougars watching from the outside.

"I'm not going to lie, we might have slacked off here and there but coming into this game, Monday morning, everyone was focused," Jolly said. "(There was) silence in the locker room, (everyone was) mentally preparing. We won this game from Monday through Thursday not just on Friday."

The Christoval defense set the tone, stopping the Eagles on their first possession by going after Eldorado's senior quarterback Korbin Covarrubiaz. The Cougars sacked Covarrubiaz on third down and forced an Eldorado punt, which was shanked out of bounds after a high snap setting Christoval up at the Eagle 30-yard line.

"We probably have one of the best defensive coaches," said Fava, who broke up a pass and notched a sack from his linebacker position. "Coach (Jonathan) Downey, he knows what he’s doing and he's smart about it and we had the whole defense locked in. My DBs, Cayden (Carpenter) and Beau, they were incredible. Our whole defense was just ready."

Back-to-back 13-yard runs by Fava were capped by a 4-yard run to the opposite side by Riley Workman and the Cougars led 6-0 with 9:38 to play in the first quarter.

The Cougar defense kept the heat on the Eagles' QB, not giving him time to find the open receiver and disrupting exchanges in the Eldorado backfield.

After the Cougars forced another three-and-out and were aided by a second ineffective Eldorado punt, Christoval used four consecutive runs to get out of a penalty deficit and take a 12-0 lead with 4:38 to play in the first quarter.

"Our game plan — they have a great secondary and our receivers did a good job blocking on the edge — we knew we had a shot to run the ball and we pushed that all week: run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and then eat the clock," said Otho, who has a 5-1 record coaching against Eldorado. "And we got rolling there and I didn't do as good a job eating the clock, but I was just letting them guys go."

The Eagles managed to get to their own 45-yard line late in the first quarter but back-to-back sacks — Fava and Brock Ratliff combined for one and Boness got the other — stalled that drive. Carpenter's interception at midfield ended another Eldorado possession on the first snap.

The Cougars weren't able to make that turnover pay off with points but Christoval punter Cobi Woodfin nailed a 41-yarder to pin the Eagles at their own 2 and on the next play, the Christoval defense scored a safety to take a 14-0 lead with 10:09 to play in the first half.

After the free kick and a 19-yard return by Fava, Christoval had another short field from the Eagle 37. Three more runs got them to the 16 before Kyle Loehman hit Jolly on a 10-yard pass to give the Cougars a 20-0 lead with 7:29 left in the first half.

The 74-yard pass gain by Meador was the first completion of the night for the Eagles, who finally got on the board 20-8 with 6:00 to play.

After forcing a Christoval punt, the Eagles drove 75 yards and Covarrubiaz hit Meador on a 5-yard pass to pull within 20-14 with 1:50 to play.

But the Cougars answered with a five-play drive from their own 41, capped by 44-yard TD pass to Carpenter and PAT run by Fava with 5.9 seconds to play in the first half to take a 28-14 lead into halftime.

"Christoval’s a great program, we knew that coming in," said Eldorado head coach Jon Long. "(With) bad snaps, you start out backed up, and you can’t do those things against a good team. There's a reason why they won (the district championship) last year and why they'll probably win it this year. They had a good game plan and they took advantage of some things and you just can't start 14 points down."

Christoval allowed just one more Eagle scoring play after halftime and chewed up the clock with hard running by Fava and Joiner, who scored on runs of 23 and 16 yards to finish the night.

NEXT: Eldorado travels to Menard next Friday before wrapping up the regular season Nov. 5 at home against Junction. Christoval travels to Junction before hosting Miles.

Christoval 46,

No. 8 Eldorado 22

Eldorado               0            14          8          0 — 22

Christoval              12            16          6          12 — 46

FIRST QUARTER

CHR — Riley Workman 4 run (run failed), 9:38 remaining

CHR — Josh Fava 1 run (pass failed), 4:38

SECOND QUARTER

CHR — Safety, 10:09

CHR — Beau Jolly 10 pass from Kyle Loehman (kick failed), 7:29

ELD — Korbin Covarrubiaz 1 run (Kaden Gonzalez pass from Covarrubiaz), 6:00

ELD — Cooper Meador 5 pass from Covarrubiaz (pass failed), 1:50

CHR — Cayden Carpenter 44 pass from Loehman (Fava run), 5.9

THIRD QUARTER

ELD — Meador 37 pass from Covarrubiaz (Covarrubiaz run), 8:14

CHR — Fava 39 pass from Loehman (pass failed), 5:52

FOURTH QUARTER

CHR — Ketcher Joiner 23 run (run failed), 8:18

CHR — Joiner 16 run (kick failed), 3:38

                            Eld        Chr

First downs        8                 19

Rushes-Yards   19-24   60-299

Passing                195        115

Comp-Att-Int  10-21-2   6-11-0

Punts                 3-14.6   4-28.75

Fumbles-Lost     3-2         0-0

Penalties-Yards 2-25         5-50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Eldorado — Korbin Covarrubiaz 10-(-23), James Kimble 9-47.  Christoval — Josh Fava 29-195, Ketcher Joiner 19-73, Beau Jolly 1-13, Cayden Carpenter 1-11, Riley Workman 2-6, Kyle Loehman 8-1.

PASSING: Eldorado — K. Covarrubiaz 10-21-2 for 195.  Christoval — Loehman 6-11-0 for 115.

RECEIVING:  Eldorado — Cooper Meador 3-116, Santiago Hernandez 3-40, Jason Covarrubiaz 2-21, Kimble 1-16, Damian Romo 1-2.  Christoval — Fava 2-47, Jolly 3-24, Carpenter 1-44.

RECORDS: Eldorado is 6-1, 2-1. Christoval is 7-1, 3-0.