Devine beats Hondo 32-29

Click here for photos of the Warhorses’ win over Hondo!

What a game in Hondo at Barry Field last Friday night between your Devine Warhorses and the Hondo Owls. An entertaining back-and-forth contest swayed the Warhorses’ way on a fourth quarter, 58-yard scoop and score by Devine’s Tristan Ortiz off an Owl fumble caused by Christian Gerlach. That touchdown producing play spanned 15 seconds and boosted the Warhorse lead to 11 points with 11:45 left in the contest. Devine went on to win 32-29 and is now 1-0 in District 14-4A.
“As I picked up the fumble, all I was thinking about was how I have to go as fast as I can to score and change up the game for my team,” Ortiz stated about his game-clinching touchdown.
Change up the game indeed. That play will go down as one of the most important and thrilling plays in the 99-game history between these two rival towns.
“What a big win for our team and for our program this past Friday,” Devine Head Coach Paul Gomez said about the victory. “The good thing about rivalry games is the playoff-type atmosphere they bring to the stadium. The players were definitely ready to go for this one.
Leading up to kickoff, we challenged our kids to play as hard as they could for all four quarters. We knew there would be difficulties throughout the game, but we had to keep giving it our best every snap. Our mentality was we had to want it more than they did. When you go to someone else’s field, you have to go take it from them.”
Devine fell behind 2-0 on a snapped punt out of the back of the end zone midway through the first quarter. The Warhorses rallied to take their first lead on a Chad Lawson 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. To set up that score, Lawson hit receiver Isaiah Oropeza on a 48-yard pass that moved the ball from Hondo territory to the Devine 8-yard line. Running back Donavon Camacho took the pitch on the next play down to the 1-yard line before Lawson finished the drive.
Following a pulling Jesus Hernandez and cutting behind blocks by Brady Cardenas, Jayce Hackebeil, and Ortiz, Lawson carried two Owl defenders into the end zone. Going for the two-point conversion in order to boost Devine’s lead to six, Lawson scrambled to his left and snuck in just past the left pylon to give the Warhorses an 8-2 lead with 11:54 left in the quarter.
Hondo quickly answered. Owl kick returner Jayden Gallardo fielded the ball at the eight and returned it 32-yards to give Hondo great field position. Running back Trey Dickens burst loose for a 46-yard gain to set up the Owl’s first touchdown that came on a 26-yard pass from Brandon Garcia to a wide-open Damian Sandoval. Hondo led 9-8, but this game was just beginning to heat up.
Three plays after the Warhorses started their next drive at their own 25, Lawson hit in stride receiver Guido Zapata who ran up the Devine sideline for a 77-yard scoring strike. The Horses reclaimed the lead 14-9.
In addition to being a good quarterback, it turns out Chad Lawson is a heck of a defender as well. Lawson stopped the next Owl drive with an interception near the Devine sideline at the Warhorse 42 yard line. Three plays later Lawson passed for his second touchdown on the night, this time to an uncovered Cardenas.
Cardenas lined up in the backfield just between right guard Jesus Hernandez and right tackle John Schnautz, went around Schnautz and up the right hash after the snap of the ball. Lawson utilized great blocking by Hernandez, Camacho, Ortiz, Kaylob Nira, and Mason Perez to step up into the pocket to deliver the ball on the money to a streaking Cardenas.
That 42-yard completion came with 2:51 left in the half and boosted the Horses advantage to 20-9.
Four plays after Hondo’s kickoff return and the ball at the Devine 40, Garcia threw to a wide-open Dickens at the Warhorse 10-yard line. With no Warhorse defender in sight, Dickens easily jogged the remainder of the way to close the gap to 20-17.
Things got a little hairy for the Warhorses at the end of the first half. Unable to gain a first down and forced to punt, Lawson saw the second snap of the game sail over his head. By the time Lawson corralled the loose ball and was tackled at the Owl 24, Hondo had a chance to tie the game at 20 with a 41-yard field goal.
Owl kicker Oswaldo Luna nailed the kick and the Hondo players started running off the field. However, an illegal formation by a Hondo offensive lineman pushed the ball back five yards. The second kick by Luna fell shy of the bottom cross bar.
Instead of a tied game at intermission, the Horses happily went to their locker room with the 20-17 lead. Not that anyone around these parts expects a high school kicker to actually make a 47-yard attempt, those three points they missed out on later came back to haunt the Owls.
The first Owl drive of the second half provided something that was nonexistent up to this point of the game, ball control. Hondo used its ground game to eat up 64 yards on a 12 play, 5 minute 12 second drive to open the second half. A fourth down conversion by the Owls and a late hit out-of-bounds penalty by the Warhorses helped set up Garcia’s 3-yard touchdown run that put Hondo back on top 23-20.
Devine’s next drive stalled inside their own 10 and were forced to punt from the north end zone once again. The Owls got great field position to begin their next drive and was eager to pad their lead.
Warhorse linebacker Sergio Martinez squashed that eagerness. Martinez popped the Owl fullback at the 16-yard line, jarring the ball free. Fellow backer Cardenas was there to pounce on the football as it was rolling toward his feet.
On Devine’s ensuing drive, Lawson hit Oropeza for their second big completion on the night. A first and ten pass play from their own 28 resulted in a 32-yard completion to the Hondo 40-yard line.
After a long play was negated due to a holding penalty, the Horses did not hang their heads. Instead, they ran a reverse option to Zapata who beat the Owl defenders all the way down to the 11-yard line.
Camacho received the pitch from Lawson on the next play and scampered into the right side of the end zone to put the Horses back on top for good 26-23 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
In this back and forth Battle of the Creek, Hondo thought it was their turn to regain the lead. Not so fast. Although Owl quarterback Garcia ran 42 yards on Hondo’s first snap of the drive, five plays later the pendulum quickly swung to Devine’s favor.
The first play of the last quarter had the Owls facing a 2nd and 11 at the Devine 21-yard line. In the shotgun formation, the snap went through Garcia’s hands and past the right earhole of his helmet. Scrambling back to retrieve the mishandled snap, Garcia was quickly hit by a rushing Gerlach who knocked the ball from the quarterback’s hands back at the 31-yard line.
The football pinned briefly between Gerlach and Garcia prior to it rolling out and away. Defensive tackle Tristan Ortiz seized the moment by picking up the fumbled football at the Hondo 42 and returning it 58 yards for the touchdown. Warhorse Nation went wild.
Ortiz’s incredible touchdown made it a two-score game at 32-23 with 11:45 left in the game. Hondo answered quickly on a 2-yard touchdown run that put the score back within Hondo’s reach at 32-29 with the extra point pending.
Ortiz pup his stamp on this game one more time as he shot the gap between the snapper and right guard and while barreling toward the kicker, put his left hand up to block the kick with 9:08 on the clock.
Much like the first quarter, the last nine minutes was all about each teams’ defense. Forcing the Owls into a punting situation, Hondo’s punter mishandled the snap, picked up the ball, and kicked it into Warhorse defender Zackariuh Bocanegra. The ball squirted toward the Owl sideline and was picked up by a Hondo player.
Cardenas made the tackle and the Horses took possession of the ball, and control of the game. Devine picked up first two first downs while Hondo helplessly used both of their remaining timeouts to stop the clock with the hope of getting the ball back.
Devine advanced the ball to the one-yard line on two nice runs by Camacho and although some were wanting another Warhorse score, kneeling the ball twice was the wise move made by the Warhorse coaching staff.
As the clock wound down and players shook hands at midfield, the 99th Devine-Hondo meeting had ended in the Warhorses’ favor 32-29.
“It was good to see the boys experience that if everybody can play for each other and give their absolute best on every play for the sake of the team, then we can do great things with faith in each other,” Gomez finished saying. “These Warhorses have fought through blood, sweat, and tears as a family while others chose to quit and not go through the challenges that football provides.
We continue to get closer and our bond is becoming stronger every day. Friday after the game, I told the boys to enjoy this victory over the weekend, but be ready to go back to work on Monday. Crystal City is next and they have a really good football team.”
Scoring summary
HON—Safety, ball snapped out of back of the end zone, 6:20, 1st.
DEV—Chad Lawson 1-yard run (Lawson 2-pt run), 11:54, 1st.
HON—Damian Sandoval 26-yard pass from Brandon Garcia (Oswaldo Luna PAT), 10:37, 2nd.
DEV—Guido Zapata 77-yard pass from Lawson (two-point conv. failed), 8:57, 2nd.
DEV—Brady Cardenas 42-yard pass from Lawson (two-point conv. failed), 2:51, 2nd.
HON—Trey Dickens 40-yard pass from Garcia (Carson Oefinger two-point run), 1:03, 2nd.
HON—Garcia 3-yard run (two-point pass failed), 6:46, 3rd.
DEV—Donavon Camacho 11-yard run (PAT failed), 1:39, 3rd.
DEV—Tristan Ortiz 58-yard fumble return (two-point pass failed), 11:45, 4th.
HON—Dickens 2-yard run (PAT blocked by Ortiz), 9:08, 4th.
Up next
The Warhorses take on the Crystal City Javelinas Friday at Warhorse Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer