FOOTBALL: Healthy East Central erupts after halftime

District 28-6A rivals locked in scoreless tie at halftime

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: East Central, Southwest.


East Central coach Clint Hartman has promising his team would be one to watch once its many injuries healed.

After halftime Oct. 16 at Southwest Stadium, the Hornets (2-5, 1-1) justified Hartman’s confidence. At halftime the game was deadlocked 0-0, but East Central scored 35 unanswered points for its second win in three games since its health improved.

“It’s going to come,” Hartman said. “We had a bunch of injuries early and we weren’t doing really well. Tonight, our defense was outstanding. We’re starting to come together, and we’ll get one more (senior receiver Joshua Barnes) back from injuries.”

The 35-0 loss was a tough one for the Dragons (1-6, 0-2) to absorb, especially because the game may affect their playoff chances in District 28-6A. Southwest and Corpus Christi Ray (1-6, 0-2) were the district’s only winless teams two weeks into the season, while the Hornets are tied for third with South San (1-6, 1-1).

“The first half was exactly what we wanted,” Southwest coach Pete Wagner said, “but how many times did we have the ball inside their 10, and we couldn’t punch it in. We still haven’t figured out how to make plays in the second half.”

East Central senior receiver Kyle Lamey (85 yards, 3 receptions) scored the game’s first two touchdowns on receptions covering 38 and 37 yards.

Lamey broke the ice with 6:36 remaining in the third quarter after a first half in which both teams missed field goals. Southwest missed a 28-yard attempt with 4:06 left until halftime. East Central senior Marco Monreal’s 56-yard try was short in the waning seconds of the half. Southwest’s Robert Zamarripa tantalizingly returned it 66 yards, before being tackled from behind as time ran out.

The Dragons crossed midfield on a 10-yard run from John Blaz shortly after receiving the second-half kickoff, but weren’t able to sustain any momentum after halftime.

A 31-yard run from junior Jauwan Hall set up East Central’s first touchdown on its first possession of the second half. The next time the Hornets had the ball, senior quarterback Justin Upshaw-Mendoza (8 of 12, 114 yards) found Lamey alone over the middle for a 38-yard scoring strike.

“It feels good to have all of us back,” Lamey said. “We want to get back to the playoffs. We’re like a new team.”

With the 14-0 lead in its pocket, East Central stuck mostly to the ground in the fourth quarter. One play after a defensive stop, Cody (82 yards, 8 carries) Nuckols broke a 70-yard touchdown run. Following an interception from Kahjah Matthews, Hall (71 yards, 12 carries) cashed in a two-yard run with 6:34 remaining.

East Central’s final touchdown also stemmed from an interception. A long return from linebacker Dalton Tarr paved the way for a second-string score. Donald Holden found the end zone on a 31-yard pass play from Cesar Lopez witth 3:25 left.

The Hornets recorded their first shutout since Nov. 1, 2013. Senior back Tyrone Middleton ran for 122 yards on 25 carries for the Dragons.

Southwest observed a moment of silence for former baseball coach John Velasquez who died of cancer Oct. 12. Velasquez coached the Dragons throughout the 2014 season.


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