RIO RANCHO – The last time New Mexico faced the San Angelo Bandits, in Texas seven weeks ago, Stars quarterback Andrew McGlory struggled mightily and drew the ire of coach Dominic Bramante. McGlory eventually lost his starting job on the Lone Star Football League team.
On Saturday in the Santa Ana Star Center, however, the rookie QB was back in the lineup and turned out to be a hero as he guided the Stars to three unanswered touchdowns in the final 6 minutes as New Mexico (5-5) earned a stirring 54-47 victory over the Bandits (6-4).
An announced crowd of 1,263 saw the winning score come with 22.2 seconds left when Dexter Manley caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from McGlory. Manley grabbed the ball at the San Angelo 3, and wrestled away from two defenders and reached the ball across the goal line.
“Coach called my number and I had to deliver,” Manley said during a postgame celebration with teammates and fans at midfield. “When Andrew put the ball in my area, I knew I had to catch it and get the touchdown.”
That made the score 52-47. On the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt, McGlory escaped the grasp of a pass rusher and found Manley standing alone in the left corner of the end zone.
San Angelo had a last chance to rally when it took possession at its 17-yard line with 14.8 seconds to play. After an incompletion, Bandits QB Luke Collis had a 16-yard completion to the Stars’ 17 with 3.3 seconds left. Then, as time expired, his final throw flew high out of the end zone.
Bramante appeared overjoyed with the result, which kept New Mexico solidly in the hunt for the third and final playoff berth in the LSFL with idle Amarillo (4-4).
“Wow!” he said attempting to sum up the closing minutes. “I told my wife and I told my guys before the game, the past two weeks (both losses) I didn’t have a good feeling before the game. But I had a good feeling today.”
Bramante even had high praise for his QB, who was inactive for last week’s 44-33 loss at Amarillo after a subpar game in a 78-38 home loss to front-running Rio Grande Valley on May 17.
“After the early hole tonight, the young kid came to life,” Bramante said. “It was a combination of team football. He made some big plays, boy, extended plays, used his legs …”
In addition to throwing for four scores – two each to Manley and Jerome McGee – McGlory had three short-range running TDs.
The hole Bramante mentioned was the 20-0 deficit the Stars faced 13:09 into the first period.
And considering the Bandits had scored a league-record 107 points in a 33-point rout of West Texas only five days earlier, another romp seemed be in the offing, especially since Collis had thrown for 30 TDs the previous three games without an interception. He still wound up with six scores Saturday, but had two interceptions, including a crucial pilfer by Marcus Allen, who set up the Stars’ next-to-last TD with a 29-yard return to the Bandits’ 5 with 5:34 left.
The Stars’ victory enabled them to finish 1-1 in the season series. It also cost San Angelo a chance to clinch a playoff berth. The loss dropped the Bandits to 0-4 on the road after finishing its home schedule 6-0. Last season, San Angelo was 1-11, including 0-4 vs. New Mexico.