Warhorses porch Bulldogs 44-22; Offense nets 566 yards

If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. Well, for the first 24-minutes of Friday night’s Devine vs Bandera tilt, the Bulldogs matched the Warhorses score-for-score as both teams went to the halftime break tied at 22-points apiece.
The Warhorse ‘D’ kept the Bulldog offense on a leash the entire second half as Devine’s offense poured on three additional touchdowns the last twenty-four minutes, pulling away for the decisive 44-22 victory.
Devine, 6-2 overall and 2-1 in District 15-4A DII, gained sole possession of second place with two games remaining until state championship runs begin across Texas as teams enter the 2021 playoffs.
“Well, it was a good, tough win for us on Friday night!’ Head Coach Paul Gomez said after the ballgame. “Our boys played hard. Offensively we had a really productive night! They threw every defensive tactic in the book at us. Our line and backs did a great job recognizing that and making adjustments from play to play. They gave us ‘50’, a split look, and 4-3, and we kept executing our game-plan. Credit goes to the players for communicating and staying disciplined with their rules and techniques.”
A Warhorse game in which running back Ethan Santos produces multiple touchdowns is getting to be old hat for this Devine offense. However, he upped his résumé just a tad against Bandera.
Santos scored his first of four touchdowns on the night on an opening possession, a 19-yard run three-and-a-half minutes into the ballgame. Santos was temporarily bottled-up amongst two-to-three Bulldog defenders before breaking out for the score.
Eight other Bandera players quit on their pursuit while another was being pancaked into the ground 10-yards from the line of scrimmage by tight end Mason Martinez. Warhorse Nation, and all fans in attendance or watching from the comfort of their living quarters, should have known then that Devine was going to have one heckuva running game on this particular night.
On their third possession of the game, Bandera offense got going as they completed a 26-yard pass for a touchdown, the first of five combined touchdowns during the second quarter. Bandera took a 7-6 lead with their successful extra point attempt.
The Horses struck back quickly after Xavier Contreras, Hayden DuBose, and Santos put together nice runs to get the ball down to the Bandera two-yard line. Santos punched it in from there and Contreras added the two points to put Devine back in the lead at 14-7 with 7:27 to go in the second quarter.
Bandera set themselves up in great field position with a 50-yard kickoff return to put the ball at the Devine 22. Three plays and a 12-yard run later, the Bulldogs tied things up at 14 apiece.
Devine kick returner Nate Ramirez fielded the Bulldog kickoff at his own 22-yard line and patiently waited for a host of Warhorse blockers as he returned it to the Devine 45. A Bandera penalty moved the ball across midfield to the Bulldog 45 and put the Warhorses right back in scoring position.
Three plays later, Santos once again took the pitch from Hackebeil, and got into the seam for a 39-yard touchdown run. Running to the right, Santos saw a hole open up. He cut back to the left to outrun all Bandera defenders to the right side pylon. Santos added the conversion, putting the Warhorses ahead 22-14.
Bandera scored the fifth and final touchdown of the quarter on a Tyler Moore 1-yard run with only 0:50 left before halftime. After their successful two-point conversion, the game went to the break tied at 22.
The second half belonged to Devine, as they came out of the halftime locker room on a mission scoring twice in the third quarter and once again in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs never sniffed the end zone again.
After forcing a Bandera punt with a 3-and-out, Devine running back Gabriel Esquibel capped off a Warhorse drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Santos converted the two-pointer for a 30-22 lead a little over midway through the third quarter.
Devine kicker Luke Friesenhahn pooch-kicked the kickoff almost straight up in the air as he kicked off at the 40-yard line. The ball landed at the 48 and bounded back toward the Warhorse kickoff team where a Bulldog player inexplicably tried to fall on the ball that would already belong to his team due to it not traveling the required 10-yard distance.
Warhorse Marcus Rodriguez jumped on the loose ball after it had been legally touched by that Bandera player to give Devine possession.
Moving the ball into Bandera territory at the 37, Hackebeil faked a jet sweep to Ramirez who was in motion on the play. Hackebeil spun to see tight end Mason Martinez open at the 27 as he slid between two Bulldog defenders. Martinez snagged the pass, evaded an attempted ankle-biting tackle and ran in for his first touchdown of the season. Contreras added the conversion, and Devine was quickly pulling away for a 38-22 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Bandera moved the ball to the Warhorse seven, but secondary player Samuel Guardiola stepped in front of a Bandera pass attempt to intercept the ball as he fell out of the end zone, giving Devine possession at their 20-yard line.
DuBose broke up the Bandera sideline for a 44-yard gain, quickly putting the Warhorses back in scoring position. In what looked like a repeat of one of his earlier touchdowns, Santos took the pitch from Hackebeil going right then cut all the way back to the left to score easily from 17-yards out.
Santos’s fourth and the game’s final touchdown came with 10:12 to play and boosted Devine’s lead to 44-22.
Contreras, in great defensive coverage, intercepted a Bandera pass to thwart any possible chance of a comeback the Bulldogs may have been conjuring up. Devine continued to eat up the clock, closing out the 22-point victory.
Gomez was more than satisfied with the production from his loaded backfield,
“In an offense where many backs get the opportunity to carry the ball and we had three four with the chance to bust 100, well, that’s a big accomplishment in itself! Our O-line and tight ends had a great night blocking! They really did well on our combo blocks getting up to the linebackers. We knew Bandera would be big and aggressive so we definitely wore them down and the ‘3-yards and a cloud of dust’ in the beginning turned into big runs as we went along.”
Running back coach Evan Eads added, “The running backs had their best game of the year in terms of blocking and we did not fumble!!!! We are super proud of their sustained effort. We are healthy and still hungry.”
After surrendering three scores and 22-points in the first half, the Warhorse defense came out determined to shut out the Bulldogs in the last 24-minutes of the game.
“Defensively, we felt we had a good game plan going in,” said Gomez. “The first half, we just weren’t executing. We had guys responsible for outside containment and we just weren’t getting there. Either both guys were sucking in or both guys were outside and opening up the middle. At halftime I addressed that concern. I challenged the guys to do their jobs. We were not being disciplined and we were not reading. Coach Villa had a very good game plan and we just were not executing. I told our boys if we just do what we were taught during the week of practice then they would not score again. I challenged them to play hard but also play smart. They definitely responded and it made all the difference. We really put it on them the second half and gang tackled all night! I told them after the game about that. How big of a difference it was when we took it upon ourselves to just do our job and play hard. When we trust our game plan and communication is there, good things happen. We are always learning. We are always trying to be the best players and coaches that we can be. Each week is an opportunity to get better.
Play #8
Earlier, Coach Gomez mentioned how he was proud of his O-line and tight ends for their combo blocks, etc. The kind of night his offensive group was in for showed early, as in play #8 of the game.
The entirety of Ethan Santos’s first TD run served as a microcosm of things to come for a battered Bulldog defense as they were thoroughly and systematically destroyed on not only this one exceptional play, but throughout the course of the ballgame.
Play #8 began as Kannon Ramirez snapped the ball to quarterback Brady Hackebeil, who turned and tossed the ball to Santos. Ramirez, along with right guard Logan Camarillo and right tackle Jared Fernandez literally cannon-balled the Bulldog nose tackle and tackle off the line of scrimmage before Fernandez left the triple-team to pancake a Bandera linebacker.
Simultaneously, playside tight end Mason Martinez is executing his own flawless pancake of a Bulldog defensive end, fullback Hayden DuBose is kicking out their cornerback halfback, and Xavier Contreras and quarterback-turned blocker Hackebeil are bulldozing a Bulldog safety.
Strong and gifted left guard Carter Faubel was a beast all night. On this particular play, Faubel utilized his size, speed, and agility by getting into the running lane ahead of Santos and eliminating three potential Bulldog tacklers eleven yards downfield.
Upon securing their backside responsibilities, tight end Peyton Carr and left tackle Hadyn Brumage simply watched and celebrated with the rest of Warhorse Nation as Santos ran the final 14 of his team’s 19-yard touchdown run.
Play #8 took less than six-seconds, but encapsulated Devine’s overall offensive mastery.
The blah, three-word scoring summary states “Santos 19-yard run”.
However, as Paul Harvey would famously say, and now you know the rest of the story.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer