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FOOTBALL: Indians’ defense regroups to hold Lanier in check

Harlandale earns share of third with win

TEAMS INCLUDED: Harlandale, Lanier.

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Harlandale earns share of third with win

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Harlandale, Lanier.

A week away from competition gave Harlandale a chance to shore up its defense and revive its playoff hopes. Now, Lanier has to hope for similar results.

The Indians (4-3, 3-2) held Lanier to 75 total yards in the first half and their offense rose to the occasions when it needed to thereafter for a District 28-5A victory Friday at Harlandale Memorial Stadium. A late touchdown by the Voks’ Phoenix Perez cut into Harlandale’s final margin, but it moved into a third-place tie with a 28-17 win.

“We came in with a loss (to Edison Oct. 3),” said Harlandale senior back John Aguirre, who scored two second-half touchdowns. “We were pretty upset. Being able to come back and win, I can’t explain what it means.”

Harlandale is tied with Burbank heading into a meeting with first-place Sam Houston Friday at Alamo Stadium.

“We’re in the hunt,” Harlandale coach Isaac Martinez said. ”We still have a horse in the race.”

Lanier (2-6, 2-4) has a week off before tackling Sam Houston Oct. 31 and Burbank No. 7 in its quest to snare a playoff spot. The loss left the Voks are in seventh place.

“Getting guys healthy and back on the field,” said Lanier coach Don Gatian, when asked what he hoped to accomplish in the bye week. “We had two or three starters that didn’t play Friday because they were banged up. We’ll bounce back.”

Aguirre (102 yards, 21 carries) was the Indians’ horse after halftime, and he enabled them to build on a 14-3 lead.

Harlandale drove 53 yards off the second-half kickoff. The senior accounted for 22 rushing yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run set up by a 26-yard reception from Ian Martinez.

“The key was to win the second half,” Aguirre said. “We wanted to compete and not lose sight of what we needed to do to win the game.”

In hindsight, that touchdown looked like a backbreaker for the Voks. Lanier put together a promising drive in response, but it stalled out at the Harlandale 12 with 3:39 left in the third quarter.

“We just came up short on those two drives,” Gatian said. “Were hoping to put six on the board and we didn’t do it. It was just a tough game all around.”

Voks senior Joe Orta finished a drive on a short field following a fair-catch interference penalty against Harlandale. It was one of the Indians’ rare mistakes. Orta (128 yards, 25 carries) scored on a nine-yard run with 31 seconds to play in the third quarter.

“I thought our defense did a nice job of containing them,” Isaac Martinez said. “They like to keep the ball on the ground, but we got them behind the sticks and the point differential got away from them, so we forced them to do some things they aren’t as comfortable doing.”

Lanier played its second-consecutive game without junior back Julian Castillo, who has rushed for 467 yards. Castillo is more of an elusive, outside-oriented back than Orta, although Orta is capable of big gains when he gets outside containment.

Harlandale made Orta work for his yardage.

“We had to plug down inside,” Martinez said, “but we told our linebackers that he can squirt and spill outside.”

Another long kickoff return left Harlandale 52 yards from the end zone as the fourth quarter opened. Aguirre ran for the last 13 yards after a key completion from junior quarterback Jacob Delgado to David Rodriguez.

Brandon Rodriguez’s second interception of the game ended Lanier’s next possession and sealed the win. The Indians surrendered 31 points and 392 total yards in the loss to Edison. They outgained Lanier, which had scored 40 in its previous game, 267-265 in total yardage.

“Brandon made couple of picks and we had nice pressure on their quarterback,” Martinez said. “I think we took them a little out of their game plan.”

Delgado scored on a one-yard dive with 4:06 left in the first quarter. The left-hander increased Harlandale’s lead to 14-0 with a 23-yard pass to Ian Martinez. The senior standout appeared to lose his footing, but caught the ball on the goal line in a seated position.

Lanier cut its halftime deficit to 14-3 on a 39-yard field goal from senior Jorge Maldonado. Harlandale called timeout to ice the kicker, but he cleared the uprights with plenty to spare nine seconds before the half.

“They didn’t do anything different than they’ve been doing,” Gatian said. “Our offensive line just wasn’t firing off the ball. We weren’t blocking the way we’ve been.”

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About Mike Considine (1293 Articles)
I started this blog as an extension of the sports stories I've been doing as an independent contractor for the Southside Reporter the past five years. I've been a sportswriter for more than 35 years, including two stints with the late, lamented San Antonio Light. I cover high school football for the San Antonio Express-News in the fall. My purpose, in creating this blog, is to shine a light on the athletic achievements of teams and athletes on the south side of San Antonio.

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