Mustangs hail Mary goes unanswered
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Edison, Harlandale, Jefferson, Kennedy, McCollum, Memorial.
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For the second-consecutive season, the Tommy Bowl went down to the wire. This year, it was Edison that broke the proverbial finish-line tape.
Golden Bears senior Michael Benavidez broke up a pass from Jefferson quarterback Weston Redding in the end zone as the game ended, preserving a 28-21 victory for Edison (5-5, 5-3). The Golden Bears had taken the lead in the District 28-5A contest just 18 seconds before.
The Mustangs scored with 10 seconds left a year ago for a six-point win, their only victory of the season.
“They were on the (Edison) 40-yard line, which is about the distance Weston can throw,” Edison coach Albert Torres said. “There was just one second on the clock. Fortunately, Michael was able to knock it down.
“The same thing happened last year, except we lost it. We scored to make it 22-21 with 4:15 left. They drove the length of the field and won on a hail Mary with 10 seconds left.”
With 18 seconds on the clock in the Nov. 7 game at Alamo Stadium, Torres said he instructed his kicker not to give brothers Jesse and Eric Flores a chance to take the kickoff return for a touchdown. The tradeoff meant giving the Mustangs (3-7, 3-5) the ball 65 yards from the end zone.
A 15-yard pass from Redding to Jesse Flores helped give Jefferson a chance to win.
Edison had perfectly executed a bubble screen, with Chris Velez throwing a crucial block, for the go-ahead touchdown. Golden Bears quarterback Jonathan Hernandez (11 of 21, 202 yards) hooked up with Bryan Bolton (120 yards, 5 receptions) on a 59-yard pass play.
“We felt we, hopefully, could get down there to score a touchdown or kick a field goal to win it,” Torres said. “but we didn’t want to give Jefferson a chance to win.
“Eric Flores is a pretty good kicker. He kicked a 47-yard field goal against McCollum.”
Taking the ball with 1:11 remaining, Hernandez (94 yards, 19 carries) ran for a first down and went out of bounds to stop the clock.
“We wanted to get a few more yards and then see where we were at,” Torres said. “We went with a bubble screen, because that’s a pretty safe play most of the time. We thought Bryan would get out of bounds. But he got an excellent block from Chris and he was able to take it all the way to the house.”
The win assured Edison of a third-place tie in the district and its first playoff appearance since 2010. The Golden Bears will face Boerne Champion (10-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 at Heroes Stadium in the bi-district round.
The Chargers won the 27-5A title and are the top-ranked team in the Express-News sub-6A area rankings.
“They definitely can score a lot of points,” Torres said. “But, at this point in the season, you don’t put in new plays or change what you do. You do what you know and what’s been helping you to be successful.
“It comes down to execution. They’re as tough a team as we’ve seen this season. We need to keep them in front of us defensively and keep making first downs. Hopefully, that will lead to points.”
Fifth-place Jefferson, which last qualified in 2012, had tied the score 21-21 on a 23-yard pass from Redding (7 of 16, 82 yards) to senior tight end Henry Bocko (56 yards, 3 catches) with 11:55 remaining. Edison led 13-7 at halftime.
For Edison, Hernandez threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
“Jonathan got every rep in every game last year as a junior,” Torres said. “He learned a lot last year. This year, he took it to another level. He understood what he was good at and what he wasn’t good at, and he played to his strengths.
“I have to say he was a key to our success.”
Jesse Flores (181 yards, 22 carries) and Eric Flores (120 yards, 16 carries) each ran for a Mustangs touchdown. Jefferson had two long touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Like Edison, Jefferson improved throughout the district season.
“The Jefferson kids battled hard and their coaches coached their butts off,” Torres said. “They had a good line and some good skill-position kids. It was unfortunate that someone had to lose.
“They had been playing better against McCollum and Highlands. They had been coming on.”
The Mustangs had another trait in common with Edison. Both teams did their best work after halftime, as the Golden Bears proved once again in their regular-season finale.
“In most of our better games, we did a good job in the second half,” Torres said. “We concentrated on finishing the job at hand. I’m really proud of the kids for taking in the coaching and making adjustments.
“It was a matter of staying focused and not getting down on themselves.”
Harlandale 7, McCollum 6
The Indians (6-4, 5-3) needed to beat their chief rival Nov. 7 at Harlandale Memorial Stadium to assure themselves of a third-place tie in District 28-5A and notch a playoff berth. McCollum made that extremely difficult.
The Cowboys (2-8, 2-6) scored their only touchdown as time expired on a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Ralph Vidal (10 of 23, 84 yards) to junior Allen Ojeda. It was Ojeda’s only reception.
McCollum tried to run for the two points, but Harlandale’s defense repelled the conversion attempt to win the 51st Frontier Bowl.
Neither team scored until 6:57 remained in the fourth quarter, when Harlandale’s Hunter Orozco returned an interception 10 yards.
Indians quarterback Jacob Delgado completed 11 of 17 passes for 72 yards. John Aguirre added 61 rushing yards. McCollum junior Mike Ramirez ran for 63 yards.
Kennedy 28, Memorial 21
After suffering the slings and arrows of District 27-5A, the Rockets (1-9, 1-7) scored in the fourth quarter to emerge from this battle of previously winless teams with a Salsa Bowl win over rival Memorial (0-10, 0-8).
Memorial led 14-7 in the first half, but Kennedy scored the next three touchdowns at Edgewood Veterans Stadium. The Minutemen tied it 21-21 with about two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
No statistics were available for either team.