EL PASO-For El Paso Montwood, it didn’t matter who was lining up at quarterback or receiver on Thursday night. The Rams (6-0, 3-0) rode a strong passing efforts from the Fernandez brothers and five touchdown catches to beat El Paso Franklin (2-4, 1-2) 43-34 on Thursday night at the SAC.
“Our receivers played well tonight,” Montwood head coach Ariel Famaligi said after the game, “We feel very fortunate to have guys like Tury (Cepeda), Tyreese (Andrus) and Edward (Garibay). That was a good win against a Franklin team that battled hard.”
Even before the Rams took the ball on offense, they found themselves in a hole early after Franklin quarterback Matt Heifner connected on a 78-yard touchdown pass to Khatib Lyles to put the Cougars in front 7-0 on just the third play from scrimmage.
After consecutive punts by each team, Montwood would get on the board thanks to a 13-yard touchdown run by Jason Fernandez to tie the game at seven. Fernandez was getting the start for his older brother, Andrew, who had been battling an ankle injury all week.
The Rams would strike again on their next possession, as Fernandez found Edward Garibay in the front corner of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to make it 14-7. After another Franklin punt, Montwood struck yet again as Fernandez found receiver Tury Cepeda for a 14-yard touchdown pass. Cepeda finished with 134 yards receiving on nine catches and the one score.
A botched extra point snap bounced favorably for the Rams as Fernandez found Garibay to make it 22-7 Rams. Jason finished 12-of-17 for 170 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“Jason did a great job,” Famaligi said. “He made a bunch of big plays for us and we have confidence in him. He handled himself great.”
Franklin would respond on the ensuing drive thanks to another Heifner long ball; this one finding a streaking Joaquin Lozano down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown to make it 22-14 at the break.
Montwood starting quarterback Andrew Fernandez entered the game for his younger brother in the second half, but did not start off well after a Franklin interception. Heifner found Lyles again on a screen pass that ended in a 41-yard touchdown catch. The two-point conversion failed to make it 22-20, but Franklin had life.
But, Montwood’s stepped up and made a play as linebacker Santiago Flores intercepted a Heifner pass to stop the drive. It was a turning point for a Rams team that had lost some momentum in the second half.
“That was a big play,” Flores said of his interception, “They had picked up momentum and we knew we had to play well against the run and pass and just play hard. We have a young defense and we just have to keep it going.”
After that, the connection that’s worked so well this season got ramped up again, as Fernandez found Tyreese Andrus on a 17-yard pass to extend the lead to 29-20.
Another Heifner pick stalled the Cougars’ next possession and following a turnover on downs by Franklin, the Rams duo struck again as Andrew Fernandez found Andrus racing down the sideline to make a circus catch and stay in bounds for a 70-yard strike on the final play of the third quarter to make it 36-20. Andrus finished with six catches for 155 yards and two scores.
“We had trust in both quarterbacks tonight,” Andrus said after the game, “Jason takes well from his older brother and we could count on him to step up and do well tonight.”
The Cougars would not go away as Taj Crenshaw scored on a 36-yard run to make it 36-26. Montwood was able to drive methodically down and put the game away with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Fernandez to Garibay. Fernandez finished with 176 yards passing and three touchdowns, all in the second half. Garibay finished with 74 yards on five catches and two scores. The Cougars would add a late touchdown run from Lozano to cap off the scoring.
Montwood travels to El Paso Coronado next week while Franklin hosts El Paso El Dorado.
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