LAREDO — After 12 months of licking their wounds from a 30-0 drubbing at the hands of the Longhorns that knocked them out of last season’s playoff picture, the Bulldogs exacted revenge with a 18-15 win to end United’s post-season hopes in front of over seven thousand screaming fans.
“Our defense played an incredible game tonight,” Alexander Head Coach Joel Lopez exclaimed. “They went hard, were disciplined and made big plays that gave us a chance to win it and our offense came through in the end.”
The Longhorns front seven were masterful in the first half, holding Bulldogs’ star rusher Camilo Pedraza to three yards running and only allowing the entire Alexander offense a net total of five yards after the first 24 minutes of play. The Bulldogs were still able to take the lead early after a bad snap led to a failed punt attempt by United that resulted with Alexander’s Jokoby Torres falling on the ball in the end zone.
Pedraza broke through for a two-point-conversion that led to an 8-0 score at the six-minute mark of the opening quarter.
After a shaky start, United quarterback Wayo Huerta got the offense moving at the start of the second quarter marching his team 97 yards. During the drive, Huerta converted on a third-and-18 with a 26-yard strike to Jorge Murillo. Huerta added a first down conversion on a forth and four with a quick pass to Jacob Morales. The Bulldogs were able to stop the offensive. Yahid Pena hit a 29-yard field goal to bring the Longhorns within five points with 7:01 left in the first half.
After a three-and-out for the Alexander offense, Huerta again led United on another multi-play, clock-draining drive to the Bulldogs’ four-yard-line. A four-yard touchdown run by Oscar Villarreal was called back due to a holding penalty. The Longhorns’ offense was not able to move the ball after and settled for another Pena field goal, this time from 20 yards out. The half ended with Alexander leading 8-6.
The defensive standoff continued throughout the second half. Alexander worked hard to get the running game going but outside of a one long run for 47 yards, Pedraza was kept in check. The sophomore ball carrier ended the night with 81 yards on 22 carries and no touchdowns.
Huerta was solid in defeat, completing 24-of-38 passes for 317 yards. His lone touchdown toss of the night was an 80-yard bomb to senior wideout Chris Fine early in the third quarter. United took a 12-8 lead after a failed two-point-conversation. Unfortunately for Huerta, the offense committed 16 costly penalties throughout the contest that ultimately lead to their demise.
The Bulldogs offense, aided by multiple defensive miscues, moved into scoring position on a 73-yard drive that ate five minutes and sixteen seconds off the clock and was capped by a touchdown strike from junior passer Matthew Conner to senior pass catcher Leo Garza. Alexander took a 15-12 lead to close the third quarter.
The Longhorns mounted an offensive led by Huerta that took them down to the Bulldogs’ 32-yard-line. Alexander’s defense was able to stop the momentum. Pena added his third field goal of the night to tie the game with 8:59 left.
After a couple of three-and-out by both offenses, the Bulldogs’ managed to drive to inside the Longhorns’ red zone. With 1:24 remaining, Alexander’s kicker Mauricio Garcia booted in what ended up being the game winning points and ended United’s season.
With the win, Alexander will enter post-season play on a three-game winning streak. Also, the United South Panthers clinched a playoff berth courtesy of the Bulldogs’ victory as they hold the tiebreaker over the Longhorns.
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