Devine caused some raised blood pressures and a little anxiety for many Warhorse Nation fans last Friday night as they took what looked like a commanding 21-6 lead over visiting Uvalde into the halftime locker room.
Things quickly turned on a dime and in no time it seemed Devine was making its own comeback bid down 24-21 going into the fourth quarter.
The Horses got the score they were looking for as Sam Guardiola’s touchdown run and Teotimo Stafford’s extra point put Devine ahead for good while the defense wound up with the play of the night as they shut down the Coyote offense the rest of the way in the Warhorses 28-24 home victory.
Led by Gabriel Esquibel’s 162 yards rushing and two touchdowns and Guardiola’s 140 yards and two touchdowns, Devine improved its record to 3-2 on the season with their last nondistrict game versus Davenport coming up Friday in Comal County.
The play that put the Coyotes back on their bus with an “L” came with 1:46 left to go and Uvalde trying to go 74 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The Warhorse ‘D’ had other plans as Tristan LaFond and the rest of the defensive line bull-rushed the Coyote quarterback to force him into an uncomfortable throwing situation.
Just as the quarterback was moving his arm forward, LaFond batted the throwing arm which forced the ball to flail up in the air and into the arms of Warhorse Eli Contreras who came down with the interception to put the clamps on any Coyote comeback attempt.
From the onset, there did not appear to be any “Hondo hangover” from the Horses previous game at Barry Field just seven days before the Coyote showdown. Devine’s defense was phenomenal for a large chunk of the game, and the offense had little resistance from Uvalde’s defense as the Horses took a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Guardiola scored his first touchdown to put Devine in the lead 7-0 with less than five minutes ticked off the Brown Chevrolet scoreboard. Guardiola’s one-yard run was followed by Esquibel’s four-yard run at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter, bumping the Warhorse lead to 14-0.
As both team’s defenses settled in for a 12-minute or so stretch spanning the end of the first quarter and most of the second, Esquibel put his name in the scorebook for the second time on a 15-yard run with only 6:08 to go before the halftime buzzer.
At 21-0, Devine appeared to be on cruise control.
However, Uvalde quickly answered on a two-yard run to close the gap to 21-6 then proceeded to return the second half kickoff 84-yards to tighten the strings at 21-12.
The Coyotes continued their barrage as they recovered their onside kick then taking the next snap 48 yards right up the middle to come within 21-18.
Momentum had swung in a big way, but things soon got worse before they got better as Uvalde took their first lead at 24-21 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter on a 13-yard pass play.
Devine recovered just in time as they put the final points on the board with 10:08 to go on Guardiola’s second touchdown run of the game. This one was from 14 yards away, giving the Horses the lead back for good at 28-24.
Devine Head Coach Paul Gomez shared his thoughts on the exciting win from Warhorse Stadium.
“It was a good win for us on Friday night! I tell you, we played about as good as we have all season in that first half. The second half, though, we came out slow.
They had the big kickoff return and then recovered their onside kick. The next play they were able to take it to the house and all of the sudden it went from 21-6 to 21-18.
They were playing harder and we were a little shell shocked. They got momentum at this point and we needed to fight back, but we had problems getting a drive together during that third quarter.
Uvalde took the lead 21-24 and we were now forced to have to figure things out to go get some points. We finally dug down deep and really wore them out on a long drive capped by Sam’s touchdown to put us up 28-24.
We showed a lot of fight in the fourth quarter. Their defense played well but we just wanted it more on that last scoring drive of ours.
I am extremely proud of our offensive line because we had to move some people around. Corey Dirck moved to right guard and Tate Wisenbaker got his first start at right tackle. We did a great job of staying on our blocks and our backs ran hard.
Gabe and Sam had their best rushing game this year. It was good to see our success. We have been pushing sleds a lot during practice, and it paid off. It’s just a mentality. It’s a gut check in the fourth quarter and I’m glad we answered the bell!
We definitely had our chances to finish the game on two 4th-and-short plays but we didn’t get it done. That’s what we have to get better at. Human nature kicks in and kids become comfortable and complacent. They did not have that ‘dog mentality’ that they had when we were dominating in the first half. That’s been our deal all year.
As an example, against Pleasanton we looked dominating the first half and should have been up 21-0 but mental mistakes hurt us and then in the second half we just didn’t have the same fire. We played Hondo a couple of weeks ago, which is a rival game, and we showed up slow and sluggish and played with complacency. We have beaten them the last 4 or 5 years and we must have thought we could just show up and win.
That Hondo loss needed to be a wakeup call and it looked like it was on Friday in the first half. But the one thing that changed this game was in the fourth quarter we finally fought back to take the lead.
These types of lessons cannot be taught in practice. We (coaches) run the players and we demand perfection in practice but lessons learned in games are when we can realistically see how things change with our effort. So, we are getting better.
We have played some good teams during pre-district and I think it is definitely helping us learn and get better. I’m proud of our defense at the end of the game for getting two big stops to finish it off.”