It wasn’t pretty but the Parkland Matadors found a way to get it done. Quarterback AJ Briggs threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns and junior Gio Mata caught two long touchdown passes en route to a 55-21 win over the Socorro Bulldogs.
“I’m happy with the result,” Parkland head coach Eric Frontz said after the game, “We threw the ball okay and our running game was decent. It’s still a work in progress and we can’t make as many mistakes as we did if we want to get our eventual goals.”
After each team went three and out to open the game, Briggs found Mata running across the middle of the field and the senior took it the distance for 52 yards to open the scoring. After stopping the Bulldogs on the ensuing drive, the Matadors took advantage of a short field capped off by a 15-yard run by junior Deion Hankins to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Briggs found senior De’Quan Henderson for a 17-yard pass to make it 21-0. That’s when things got interesting on the next drive for the Matadors as Henderson coughed up the ball and Socorro took advantage with a 15-yard run by Alex Olivas to make it 21-7, which would be the score heading into the half.
The Matadors were looking for a spark in the second half and got it almost immediately, thanks to a 75-yard kickoff return from Zarcariaous Presha to make it 28-7. Hankins would add another score to make 35-7, but the Bulldogs took advantage of a shorter field as quarterback Jacob Luna snuck it in to make it 35-14 Parkland.
Socorro then tried an onside kick that failed to go 10 yards. On fourth down, Briggs found Mota again for a 43-yard touchdown strike to make it 41-14 late in the third quarter and essentially put the game away. Mota would finish with five catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
“AJ and I were really focused tonight,” Mota said, “He’s a really good quarterback and the rest of the receivers and I have built a strong relationship.”
Frontz likes the versatility he has with his receivers, but knows that there will be plenty to clean up for the Matadors’ district opener at home against Eastlake.
“We need to not give up big plays,” Frontz said, “Our defense has been stepping up but we need to be more consistent. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best and we have a great opportunity next week against Eastlake.”
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