Crystal City crushes Warhorse title hopes 28-24

Click here for photos of the Warhorses vs Crystal City!

The set up could not have been any better. Two Fridays ago, the Devine Warhorses district opening win at Barry Field in Hondo and Crystal City’s victory against the Pearsall Mavericks at Javelina Stadium put the two teams on a collision course to possibly settling the claim to the District 14-4A title in Devine this past Friday night.
Having the opportunity to play Crystal City on the natural grass at Warhorse Stadium seemed like a definite advantage for Devine going into the ballgame. Things did not turn out as hoped as the Javelinas walked off the field with a 28-24 win and a 2-0 district record to boot. The Horses not only fell to 1-1 in district play but also lost the possible tiebreak to Crystal City if the teams happen to finish with identical records when the season concludes on November 9.
“It was a tough game Friday night,” Head Coach Paul Gomez stated. “At the end of the game, when I knew that we beat the team in almost every other meaningful statistic except for the most important one which is the score, it left a bad taste in my mouth.”
For a game with so much riding on the line, many believed that this game would be a high scoring affair typically seen in Big 12 ballgames. However, an 8-8 tie going into halftime did not exactly provide the fireworks that most had come to see.
Devine was the first to capitalize on Guido Zapata’s 6-yard run early in the second quarter. With kicker Grant Collins out and the slippery grass playing a factor, the Warhorses went for two on Chad Lawson’s run from three yards out. That conversion was the first of three on the night for Devine and it gave them a temporary 8-0 lead with a little over 10 minutes left in the half.
Crystal City tied it up a few minutes later on David Patino’s 17-yard run and two-point conversion with 6:42 to go in the second quarter. That is all the scoring the two teams could muster in a not-so-eventful first half.
Things heated up in the third. Javelina running back Justin Bonilla ran 41 yards for a score, followed by Patino’s second touchdown of the game on an 89-yard run. With Crystal City unable to convert either conversion try, their lead was only 20-8 and was well within range of a Warhorse comeback possibility.
Zapata made that comeback look like a real possibility as he snagged a short Lawson pass and took it 71 yards to pull the Horses within four at 20-16.
With Crystal City able to continue a drive after a 4th down pass interference penalty, the Javelinas scored a few plays later to boost their lead to 28-16.
Things looked bleak for the Warhorses until Zapata scored his third touchdown of the game, this time on an 8-yard touchdown reception from Lawson. With 2:50 left in the game, all the Horses needed was to recover the onside kick and march the ball to the end zone to erase the 28-24 deficit.
Devine’s Isaiah Oropeza jumped on the loose ball on the onside attempt and things began to get interesting. The Horses gained a couple of first downs before finally turning the ball over to Crystal City on downs with under a minute to go. The Javelinas kneeled the ball on consecutive snaps to cap off their possible district championship clinching victory.
The Horses were riding high after their victory in Hondo the week before. The springboard to a district championship was in place after that victory against the Owls. However, that springboard developed a serious crack last Friday night.
“I don’t think we played with enough emotion and intensity,” Gomez stated about the lackluster performance. “The concern after the big rivalry win against Hondo was the possibility of having an emotional letdown this past week…and that’s exactly what happened.”
After the gut-wrenching loss to the Javelinas, Gomez looked back on the week between the high of beating Hondo and the low of losing to Crystal City.
“The coaches and I preached to the players all week about the need to raise our level of play an extra notch every week. We had a sloppy practice on Tuesday and I had to get onto the team about not being mentally focused. We have to practice every day like we are playing a game. That is the only way to prepare to win and when that doesn’t happen, it creates a dent in our armor.
Our defense played a good overall game but just allowed too many big plays. They had two first downs in the first half and seven in the second half for nine first downs. Stat wise that looks very good defensively. We had 18 first downs on offense and that looks very good for our offense. However, it was the things in between that got us.
We did not make the plays when we needed to and it bit us in the rear. That’s my fault; I take 100% of the blame. I have to find a way for our team to play its best football in this part of the season. There are no excuses for that not to happen.
Every game from now on is a playoff game. Our intensity and focus has to be greater every week and we cannot relax. If competing at a high level truly means anything to us, then we will not relax. We have to play as if our backs are against the wall and we have to come out fighting.”
Gomez’s overall assessment
I thought we had a great plan offensively and defensively but we just did not execute and in football, execution is by far the most important factor in winning and losing. Now we are going to find out what we are made of. Are we going to get back up after being knocked down and work 10 times harder so that does not happen again or are we going to feel sorry for ourselves. The answer is we are going to get back up and work 10 times harder. The true definition of a man is how well he rises after falling. So that is our challenge as coaches and as football players and ultimately as a team.
Rushing – Team 36 for 158 yards; Chad Lawson 17 for 62, 1 TD; Donavon Camacho 12 for 58; Guido Zapata 5 for 31, Isaiah Oropeza 1 for 4; Brady Cardenas 1 for 3.
Passing – Lawson 13 for 27 for 219 yards, 2 TDs.
Receiving – Zapata 7 for 145, 2 TDs; Oropeza 2 for 31; Camacho 2 for 20; Sergio Martinez 1 for 12; Cardenas 1 for 11.
Scoring summary
DEV – Guido Zapata 6-yard run (Chad Lawson run), 10:25, 2nd.
CCJ – David Patino 17-yard run (John Saucedo run), 6:42, 2nd.
CCJ – Justin Bonilla 41-yard run (run failed), 10:03, 3rd.
CCJ – Patino 89-yard run (pass failed), 3:11, 3rd.
DEV – Zapata 71-yard pass from Lawson (Lawson run), :37, 3rd.
CCJ – Saucedo 3-yard run (Jamie Nava run), 4:19, 4th.
DEV – Zapata 8-yard pass from Lawson (Lawson run), 2:50, 4th.
Up next
The Horses make the short trip to Pearsall to take on the Mavericks. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer