Warhorses drop District finale to Crystal City on late touchdown

A bitter pill to swallow to end the District 14-4A season for the Devine Warhorses last Friday night down in the Spinach Capital of the World. Crystal City made like Popeye and flexed their offensive muscles late in the game, securing the winning touchdown with 2:57 on the clock after a 4th and 17 completion that gave the Javelinas a first and goal with around 3 minutes to go in the ballgame.
Head Coach Paul Gomez’s reflection on the hard fought ballgame, “It was tough. Very tough. I thought we had a good plan going in both defensively and offensively. We executed well offensively early in the game then negative plays hurt us, whether it was penalties or missed assignments, it hurt us.”
Devine came out like gangbusters on the first and third drives of the game. After receiving the opening kickoff and starting its first drive at the 22, the Warhorse marched it down Crystal City’s throat gaining six first downs along the way. Noah Brogdon scored on a 9-yard run with 7:15 to go in the first quarter to give Devine a 7-0 lead.
After a Chase DuBose interception, the Warhorses third offensive series resembled much of what the first series did. A quick drive that netted three additional first downs culminated with quarterback Chad Lawson rushing three yards to bump Devine’s lead to 14-0 with 10:38 still to play in the first half. The entire offensive line consisting of Marques Burford-Zawahreh, Christian Arredondo, Gideon Ramirez, Reagan Brown, and Tristan Ortiz plus the blocking by backs Juan Sic and Matthew Ornelas provided a gaping hole for Lawson to get into the end zone.
After Crystal City scored on a short pass completion that wound up being a 53-yard reception for a Javelina touchdown that pulled them within 14-6 with 9:11 left in the half, the Warhorses were literally a knuckle-joint away from pulling off a Lawson to Brogdon connection to answer Crystal City’s score. However, the ball went off the extended fingertips of Brogdon on a second down throw at the Javelina 35. The Horses punted two plays later.
“That missed pass to Noah hurt because that was a touchdown if we just play catch,” stated Gomez. “Because their safeties are a big part of their run defense, we knew that if we ran the ball at them, we could get a big play off play action if we executed it; but we did not.”
Crystal City struck once more with 0:41 left in the first half. A 20-yard throwback and missed two-point opportunity resulted in the 14-12 score that kept Devine in the lead until the last 2:47 of the game. The Javelinas last score was set up by a huge fourth down conversion with a little over three minutes remaining in the game. A blown coverage and a nice back shoulder catch by the Crystal City receiver breathed life into a Javelina team that was facing a third place finish square in the face.
“The 4th and 17 at the end was a heart breaker. We were in a two deep zone so that we would have a defender over the top for help on a long pass. Payton did a great job covering the receiver. I mean, if we were in man-to-man, his coverage would have been great.
I thought he picked it then I saw the ball go off his shoulder pads and into the receiver’s hands. Nine times out of 10, that ball is an interception. We needed our deep cover personnel over the top and he was not there. It should have been a pick or a batted ball. However, we have many young players that play for us and they are not trying to mess up. We are playing hard but with our injury situation, some of our kids just do not have much varsity experience.”
Devine finished with 220 yards total offense. The Warhorses rushed 42 times for 160 yards for 3.8 yards per carry. Quarterback Chad Lawson completed 7 passes for 60 yards.
Grant Collins led the rushing categories with 19 carries for 88 yards. Luke Torres carried 7 times for 26 yards while Noah Brogdon also carried 7 times for 25 yards and one score. Lawson had 8 carries for 20 yards and 1 touchdown and Matthew Ornelas rushed once for one yard.
Chase DuBose had 3 receptions for 39 yards. Collins (3 for 16) and Kyler Brown (1 for 5) had Devine’s other four receptions and 21 yards.
Devine looked like there would be no stopping them on this particular night. After scoring two touchdowns on their first and third offensive possessions of the game, the demeanor on the Crystal City sideline looked like one of defeat and concession.
Collins ran for 73 of his 88 yards in the first half. Devine produced 160 of their 220 total yards before the break. The Warhorses got nine first downs on their first and third possession that set up their two-touchdown advantage.
First downs and yards were not easy to come by in the second half. After getting a season-high 11 first downs in the first half, the offense stalled out in the second half as they moved the chains only two additional times while being limited to 60 yards.
The Warhorses also turned it over twice, once on an interception and once on a fumble.
The defense continues to produce turnovers. Two more on the night pushed their season total to 20 through 10 ballgames. DuBose intercepted a Javelina pass attempt on Crystal City’s second possession of the game while Bulldog Ramirez recovered a loose ball for another turnover.
Crystal City had one less first down overall than Devine but five of their 12 came in the decisive second half. The Javelinas rushed 32 times for 155 yards for 4.84 yards per carry and completed 14 passes for 137 yards. All told, Crystal City had 292 yards on 46 offensive snaps.
Injury list grows
Chase Dubose will be out with torn ligaments in his foot. It is not broken but it will require a few weeks of healing. Chase is yet another starter on both sides of the ball that the Warhorses have lost on the season.
Gomez on an injury list that keeps on growing, “You know, Chase makes 9 starters that we have lost this year. I have a lot of respect for the guys we have out there right now. They could have easily put their heads down and made excuses to shut it down. They did not quit and will not quit.
The most popular excuse now is ‘football just isn’t fun anymore’, which is just the easy way out of a tough situation. Nevertheless, the guys who continue to battle have not made excuses or found a reason to quit. They come to practice every day and work hard. They represent this town the right way with class and dignity. They keep telling me that I did not deserve this type of season in my first year as head coach but the truth is that they did not deserve this.
Unfortunately, sometimes that is life and I know these men can and will overcome anything that life throws at them in the future. They know they will get knocked down at times but they will always overcome. That is what I am most proud of and that is why I know they will be great success stories.”
Next up
The Warhorses will play at Harlandale Memorial Stadium Thursday night against the District 13-4A runner up Navarro Panthers for the Bi-District championship. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer