Buttons squeeze Warhorses 14-13

Click here for photos of Devine’s game vs Central Catholic!

Statistics show Devine had control of this game. The 14-13 loss to the Central Catholic Buttons was a very entertaining game, no doubt, but is one the Warhorses simply let slip from their grasp. Devine beat Central Catholic in almost every statistical category except for perhaps the most important one, turnovers. Turnovers determine who wins or loses football games more than any other statistical category out there.
The Horses put the ball on the ground six times with Central Catholic recovering two of those. Add in two interceptions by the Central Catholic defense to make it 4-2 Buttons advantage on the turnover stat-line.
Devine looked like a well-oiled machine early in the game. Mason Burford took the handoff from quarterback Chad Lawson on the game’s first play and gained 22-yards to put the Warhorses in Button territory right off the bat. A nice run by Guido Zapata and a catch-and-run by Isaiah Oropeza had Devine knocking on the goal line door.
Lawson hit a curling Zapata for a 17-yard touchdown reception with 4:14 ran off the clock in the first quarter to give the Horses an early 7-0 lead. That opening drive set an ominous tone however. Devine fumbled twice on the 9-play drive but was lucky enough to recapture both of those lost footballs.
After poor coverage on the Warhorses ensuing kickoff that Central Catholic returned 44 yards down to the Devine 27, one offensive play is all they got. Free safety Lawson alertly picked a tipped Button pass at the 14-yard line and returned it 30 yards to the Warhorse 44.
Zapata had two nice catches on the Horses next drive. However, on the second reception as Guido sprinted up Devine’s sideline to the end zone, the ball popped out of his possession. Central Catholic recovered the football at their own 3-yard line.
Scoring opportunity #1 thwarted.
Devine’s defense held tough to force the Buttons into a 4th and 11 punting situation. A 24-yard return by Zapata to the Central Catholic 20-yard line was wiped out by a block in the back penalty on the Warhorses. Instead of being in great field position and an opportunity to build on a one-score lead, the Horses instead began their next drive at their own 49.
Scoring opportunity #2 thwarted.
As Devine’s defense continued to hold the Buttons’ offense in check, a missed call by the sideline official on the Warhorses boundary cost the Warhorses a shot at the end zone on a later possession in the first half.
Lawson perfectly hit Zapata in stride on a 30-yard, over the right shoulder catch that should by all accounts been ruled in bounds. However, the official ruled that Zapata was not in bounds with possession of the ball. Trust me, from the press box view to watching the replay 12 times on Hudl, Zapata was in bounds. No doubt.
Judgement plays like that usually come back to haunt teams that do not get the benefit of the call. During the execution of the play, offensive linemen Mason Perez, Aaron Rivera, Tristan Ortiz, Jesus Hernandez, and John Schnautz had textbook-like, pass-protection blocking for Lawson to step up into the pocket to deliver a heckuva pass. He did. Zapata ran a clean route and came up with a catch that required a ton of concentration with a Button receiver practically draped all over him.
Simply, that call should not be missed. From any angle, at any time. However, it happens.
Scoring opportunity #3 thwarted.
The Horses overcame that call and later managed to get the ball inside the 20 just a couple of plays later. On a fourth and long, a little reverse-play trickery had Burford pitching a handoff to Isaiah Oropeza who tried to hit Lawson in stride. However, that ball was picked off at the 3-yard line.
Devine got the ball back with 4:46 remaining in the first half and moved the ball inside the Button 30-yard line. Miscommunication on the quarterback to tailback handoff led to the ball lying on the ground. Central Catholic pounced on the ball to end that first-half closing drive.
Scoring opportunity #4 thwarted.
A 7-0 lead is never safe halfway through a game, but it seemed as though the Horses were in complete control. The offense was moving the ball. The chains were moving. Scoring opportunities were abundant throughout the first half; surely, those opportunities would be available again in the second half. Devine’s defense was playing lights-out. Everything was going in the Warhorses favor.
The Horses ate up the clock on its first drive of the second half. Taking the ball within inches of the red zone on a 12-play drive, unlucky play number thirteen had the Buttons stepping in front of a Warhorse pass. Devine’s third turnover of the game came with 3:05 left in the quarter.
Scoring opportunity #5 thwarted.
Central Catholic finally capitalized on a Warhorse turnover. A 35-yard run followed by a 25-yard pass completion got the Buttons to the Devine 14-yard line. Button running back Zach Davidsmeyer put Central Catholic on the board with a touchdown run that knotted the game at seven apiece with :32 left in the third quarter.
Midway through the fourth, pass-rushing Warhorse defensive linemen Christian Gerlach, Truett Barron, and Tristin Kannard forced Button quarterback Nick Chavez out of the pocket. While rolling to his right, Chavez threw the football. Devine outside linebacker Blaine Miller tipped the pass and it fell into the arms of Lawson for his second interception of the game at the Warhorse 28-yard line.
After the Horses were forced to punt on a 3-and-out, the Buttons strung together a 12-play drive that culminated with a 24-yard pass completion on the right side of the end zone that put Central Catholic up 14-7 with 1:08 left in the game.
Oropeza fair caught the Button kickoff at the 5-yard line. There were a few moans in the crowd but a new rule gives the fair-catching team the ball at the 25 with no time winding off the clock. Wise move by Oropeza.
On the next play, Lawson delivered a quick strike to the split-left Zapata who actually caught the ball 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage near the numbers on the Warhorse side of the field.
Pausing shortly between the 25 and 28-yard lines to gauge the field, Zapata took it all the way across the field and up the Central Catholic sideline, beating nine defenders along the way for an amazing 75-yard touchdown run that put the Horses only down one-point at 14-13 with :52 left in the game.
Extra point or two-point conversion? Decision time for Coach Gomez and Offensive Coordinator PJ Wells. Go for the point after attempt to tie the score to possibly force overtime, or go for the gusto and run a two-point play to take the lead with little time remaining?
The Horses were going to go for the “W”. With injuries mounting and district play around the corner, going into overtime was never an option. It was an all-or-nothing situation.
Taking the shotgun snap, on a designed run-play Lawson sprinted to his left as seemingly every Button defender was chasing him. Almost forced out of bounds at the seven, Lawson cut back up field with Central Catholic defenders desperately trying to take him down.
Lawson did everything humanly possible to get into the end zone. He broke tackles. He held on to the ball even as it was trying to be ripped from his grasp. He kept his feet powering forward. He carried defenders. Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, he fell inches short just in front of the left end zone pylon. Ballgame.
Devine was banged up going into their fifth game of the season. Some players will return for district play, but the Warhorses will continue to be banged up and missing key players for the remainder of the season.
On Homecoming night, even with 12 players on the Devine sideline in jersey top and jeans, even with all the loose balls and turnovers that swung momentum from side to side, even with the blatant missed call on what should have been a first half Zapata reception to give the Warhorses possession inside the five, and even with the five thwarted scoring opportunities throughout the first 47-minutes of the game against Central Catholic, the one that people in the homecoming crowd will always remember is missed scoring opportunity #6.
The two-point conversion attempt with less than a minute left on the clock located was as an exciting and suspenseful way to end a Homecoming game as any in recent memory.
For Warhorse players and Warhorse Nation, this game deserved better than the end-result of that one play and, for those that in attended, you know this game did not come down solely to that failed two-point try.
This game came down to the single statistic that has gone the Warhorses favor far more times than not over the past 25 seasons, that statistic being who wins the turnover battle.
Coach Gomez stated the offensive coaches will stress and work on ball-security during the open week. Heading into district competition, all that may be standing between a Warhorse District Championship and anything less, is the ability to hang on to the football.
In defense
“I thought overall our defensive unit played their best game of the year. We have accomplished good things these past two ballgames even if it may not show that fact on the scoreboard. Central Catholic soundly beat a state contender (Austin Regents) in the private school sector a week before playing us.
We flew around the whole night but had two blown assignments that cost us. Those assignments were not blown because of lack of effort and that is something that we can live with. Now, it’s time for the season that matters…District!!!”—Defensive Coordinator Coach George Villa
0-0, 5 to Go
Regardless of the outcome of any of the games played up to this point in the season, the Warhorse record of 2-3 is wiped clean as district starts in a week and a half. Winning the Central Catholic game would have been a big boost to the morale of a team that continues to heal from early season injuries.
Devine will welcome back a few players once the game in Hondo kicks off on October 12 at Barry Field. Players that have had to step in to fill both back up and starting roles have done so admirably. Those players’ repetitions that they have gotten in practices and games will benefit this team in the long run.
There are five district games. Not one of the five teams has a clear-cut path to the district title. Hondo, Crystal City, Pearsall, Poteet, and Carrizo Springs are all dealing with its own set of issues with five games to go. The team that faces and manages their own issues the best will come out on top in District 14-4A D2.
Scoring summary
DEV—Guido Zapata 17-yard pass from Chad Lawson (Sergio Martinez PAT), 7:46, 1st.
CCB—Zach Davidsmeyer 14-yard run (Franco Querido PAT), :32, 3rd.
CCB—Doug Karam 24-yard pass from Nick Chavez (Querido PAT), 1:08, 4th.
DEV—Zapata 75-yard pass from Lawson (two-point run failed), :52, 4th.
Up next
The Horses are open this week. They return to action on Friday, October 12 in their district opener against the Owls in Hondo at Barry Field. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer