Photo: Sergio Martinez/TexasHSFootball.com

LAREDO, Texas – Weslaco East advanced in the playoffs with a hard-fought 21-18 win over the Laredo Alexander Bulldogs. The game was held at the Student Athletic Complex.

Coach Michael Burget was satisfied with his team’s overall performance. “We’ve had a lot of injuries throughout this season but we’ve managed to find ways to win. Alexander fought hard but we got it going in the second half.”

Alexander’s opening barrage featured their star rusher, Camilo Pedraza. The sophomore had 41 yards on the ground and caught three for 19. The Bulldogs marched down the field and into scoring position. Quarterback Jose Rodriguez connected with Albert Laurel, Jr. on a four-yard wheel route to put Alexander up 7-0. Rodriguez completed six of seven for 42 yards during the 13-play drive.

The Wildcats started their offensive led by quarterback Richard LeFevre. The six-foot-four, 260-pound senior connected on a nine-yard drag route to keep the drive alive. Things slowed quickly as Alexander’s defensive line turned on the pressure. Weslaco East was forced to punt.

After a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, the Wildcats’ offense returned to the field looking for momentum. Pedro Puente was under center for Weslaco East as LeFevre’s right leg was being looked at on the sideline. Running back J.C. Vargas carried the load during this drive. Working out of the Wildcat formation, Vargas broke a 30-yard run, finding the end zone to tie the game at seven all.

Photo: Sergio Martinez/TexasHSFootball.com

Alexander’s next effort started at their own 15-yard line. Pedraza had several positive yardage plays and the offense looked to be well on the way to another score. The Wildcats’ defense was able to stop the charge and forced a punt.

LeFevre was back at the helm and got his team moving. After a first down conversion on a third and long, a LeFevre pass was intercepted by Bulldogs’ linebacker Matthew Vasquez. Alexander took over at their own 23-yard line with 4:04 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs stalled after three plays and settled for a 35-yard field goal from kicker Mauricio Garcia to extend the lead by three.

Alexander’s defense kept the high-powered Wildcats offense silent and ended the first 24 minutes of play with a 10-7 lead.

Weslaco East came out aggressively with LeFevre running hard between the tackles. Vargas also broke some nice runs to keep the chains moving. LeFevre capped the 12-play drive with a 4-yard quarterback keeper to give his team a 14-10 lead.

For the Bulldogs, the first drive of the second half resulted in disaster. Pedraza was injured after a 5-yard gain that ended his night. At the time, the sophomore had rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries.

A couple of plays later, Rodriguez threw an interception to Freddy Cardenas who took it to the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line. Four plays later, Vargas scampered for an 8-yard score – his second of the night — to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 21-10. The senior rusher ended with 113 yards on 22 carries.

Photo: Sergio Martinez/TexasHSFootball.com

Alexander’s offense was not able to get going and were set to punt it away on a forth and three. A fake led to a Laurel, Jr. first down grab which gave the home team life. Backup running back Carlo Canales scurried for 18 yards to put the Bulldogs in the red zone.

Soon after, quarterback Matthew Conner hit Laurel, Jr. for a 7-yard score. The junior pass catcher ended the night with 52 yards on 7 catches and two scores. Alexander added a two-point conversion to pull within three points at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth saw the defenses for both clubs pull off big stops and not allow another score. The Bulldogs offense mounted on last drive but failed to convert on fourth down quarterback sweep. The Wildcats were able to run out the clock and preserve the win.

LeFevre was all smiles as he walked off the field.

“[Alexander] is a good club. I’ve never played against a team with the kind of sportsmanship that they showed.” He added, “I got hit early but I’m fine. My knee felt fine for the game.” The senior ended the night with 18 carries for 91 yards and a score.

The Wildcats now turn their focus to the Cibolo Steele Knights who they are scheduled to face on November 30. The Knights defeated Vandegrift 36-18 earlier Friday night to advance.

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