Zach Doran crossed the goal line on Friday night and after being bombarded by celebratory teammates, he immediately found and embraced the proudest person inside Bronco Stadium.
His dad: Mustang defensive line coach Jason Doran.
“I couldn’t do it without the other dudes. If they didn’t do their job, I couldn’t have done that,” the senior strong safety said. “And then to jump into my dad’s arms, I mean, it’s a great son and dad moment. It was just awesome.”
Doran scooped up a Mustang punt block midway through the second quarter and returned it for a touchdown, securing every ounce of momentum in a 44-13 season-opening win over the Southmoore Sabercats.
The Broncos (1-0), who gave up just 316 total yards, settled in after giving up a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Altogether, Mustang forced three punts and two interceptions in the first half, including picks by Waleed Gaines Jr. (Jr.) and Charles Rangel-Lucio (Sr.).
“Once we got in our little groove, we just swarmed to the ball and had fun,” said Doran, who finished with five total tackles. “First game you have your nerves up and everything. We knew we had to trust our coaches and trust each other and swarm to the ball.”
For the game, Mustang allowed just 42 yards on the ground while giving up 274 through the air. Southmoore (0-1) converted just five times on third down and punted six times.
Senior linebacker Caston “Bear” Meadows led the team with 17 total tackles, including two for a loss. Defensive linemen Louie Jones (Jr.) and Michael Johnson (Sr.) each finished with six tackles, including a sack by Johnson.
Sophomore linebackers Kaden Bachus and Parker Sorrell also tallied a sack on Southmoore quarterback Cruz Campbell.
Kaden Bachus (So.) brings down a Southmoore receiver during Mustang’s 44-13 win over the Sabercats on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, at Bronco Stadium in Mustang. Caston “Bear” Meadows is in pursuit of the play. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)
“When the storm comes everybody gets nervous,” Doran said of Mustang’s ‘black cloud’ mentality, which was on full display on Friday. “Take shelter for the black cloud, baby.”
Mustang’s offense settled in as well, answering Southmoore’s initial score with 28 unanswered points before halftime.
Quarterback Trajan Williamson (Jr.), who made his first career start, threw two of his three touchdown passes to help build a three-score lead before the break.
Williamson’s first TD strike – a rollout 17-yard floater to a wide-open Jaden Johnson (So.) – gave Mustang its first lead. The junior quarterback’s second score came on a 37-yard catch-and-run by L.B. Hayes (Sr.), extending the advantage to 14-6 late in the first quarter.
The Williamson-to-Johnson connection wasn’t finished.
Johnson, who shined with eight catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns, broke free from a Southmoore defensive back to start the fourth quarter. Williamson dropped a perfect pass into his hands for a 63-yard score and a 37-13 lead.
“I saw him roll free and I knew the corner was coming off him and ended up trailing him,” Williamson said. “Throw it over the top, he catches it, touchdown.”
The duo seems to already be on the same page. Williamson, who finished 18-for-26 for 251 yards, is excited to have such a reliable target.
“It’s great,” he said. “I know if I throw it to him, he’s going to catch it.”
Jaden Johnson (So.) catches a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trajan Williamson (Jr.) during Mustang’s 44-13 win over Southmoore on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, at Bronco Stadium in Mustang. (Photo by Shelly Holinsworth / Freelance Action Photography)
Four other receivers caught at least two passes, including Hayes, Tymere Hollingsworth (Sr.), Jaytee Johnson (So.), and Zarian Kindell (Jr.).
Kindell caught a nine-yard touchdown from quarterback Mikey Gow (Jr.), who entered the game early in the fourth quarter. The score iced the victory for the Broncos as each team went scoreless over the final eight minutes.
The Mustang rushing attack was also dominant, totaling 212 yards on the ground. Bryance Sanders (Sr.) and Jack Vaughn (Sr.) led the charge.
In his first career start, Sanders totaled 76 yards on nine carries, including a 20-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. Vaughn rushed for 75 yards, including five runs for at least 10 yards. Taven Brown (Fr.) rushed for 20 yards in his varsity debut.
The Broncos now turn their focus to the Deer Creek Antlers, who played for the Class 6A-2 state championship in 2022 and handed the Broncos a 24-21 loss at home in Week 3. The Antlers are 1-1 after falling to Edmond Memorial 34-31 on Friday.
“Getting off to a faster start,” Williamson said of the key takeaways for improving early in the season. “If we get off to a faster start, we’re going to be really good this year. If we get off to a slow start against a team like Deer Creek, Owasso, or Union, then we’re going to have to come back and make some really good plays.”
“We just have to focus on the next game,” Doran said. “This game doesn’t matter anymore. Keep our heads straight and go work as a team and be unselfish and just get after it.”
The Broncos and Antlers square off on Friday at 7 p.m. from Antler Stadium in Edmond.