LAREDO, Texas – The Edinburg Vela Sabercats’ defense held the Eagle Pass Eagles scoreless in the second half to seal the 28-10 victory. The game was held at the Student Athletic Complex before a ruckus crowd.
“It’s always tough when you’re coming off the [Thanksgiving] holidays and trying to get ready for a big game.” Sabercats’ coach John Campbell added, “Eagle Pass played hard and they were in it in the first half like we expected. They’re an athletic team.”
Eagle Pass’s offense opened behind their senior running back workhorse, Dee Andre Torres. Torres ripped off an early 36-yard rush to get his team moving. Junior quarterback Ritchie Luna struggled early which made it difficult to sustain the drive. Wide receiver Jose Riojas took a jet sweep 7 yards to get the Eagles into the red zone. Edinburg’s defense stiffened so Eagle Pass took a three-point lead on a 28-yard field goal by Riojas.
Edinburg’s opening offensive drive was sloppy. The Sabercats were unable to move the ball and were forced to put it away. After a three-and-out, the Eagles shanked a punt that led to Vela starting at their own 32-yard line. This time, the Sabercats road their big back, Aaron Alvarez. Alvarez bruised his way into the end zone from seven yards out to put Edinburg up 7-3. The junior ball carrier ended the night with 59 yards rushing.
After missed opportunities by both offenses, the Eagles relied on Torres’ legs to get moving midway through the second quarter. The running success helped Luna steady himself and the Junior start to find the open receivers. Luna hooked up with senior wideout Albert Guevara for an 11-yard touchdown strike. Eagle Pass went up 10-7 after the extra point. Luna ended the night with 133 yards passing and 29 yards rushing.
The Sabercats’ quarterback Nate Garcia – he ended the afternoon with 214 passing yards – found his rhythm as the Sabercats’ offense began to churn. Garcia put his team up 14-10 when he hit sophomore wideout Justin Cantu on a fade route with 3:31 left in the first half. Cantu ended the game with 113 receiving yards.
Both offenses were unable to get anything going for the rest of the first 24 minutes of play.
The Sabercats came out to establish themselves early in the third quarter. Garcia was on fire as he connected with multiple receivers and used his legs to keep the drive alive. A big pass interference penalty against Eagle Pass moved Edinburg within striking distance. The senior shot caller scrabbled in from 2 yards to extend the Sabercats’ leads to 21-10 after an impressive 13-play drive.
The Eagles’ offense continued its ineptness for their next several salvos. Luna was picked off by Vela’s Daniel Enriquez with 1:43 left in the third quarter to kill a small rally. Garcia added his third touchdown of the day on a 3-yard quarterback keeper to end the third quarter with Edinburg up 28-10.
Both offense had their moments in the final quarter but none could find the end zone.
Garcia was excited to know that his team lives to fight another day. “[Eagle Pass] was tough and they held us good the first half. We talked to each other [at halftime] and made it work in the second half,” he said.
The Sabercats head back home and wait to find out who they will be facing next. As for the Eagles, their run has ended. It had been three years since Eagle Pass had been to the playoffs. Overall, this was still a successful season.
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