It wasn’t that the Bobcats didn’t fight back, because after a poor first half, they did get up and start throwing rounds. It’s just that every time they tried to get some momentum going, the Bears would answer, and how, and fast!
That EHS outscored P-SJ-A in the second half (28-24) matters not, because the bottom line is that the Bears came out on top, 45-28, sending the Bobcats to 2-2 in District 31-6A, 3-4 overall.
Twice in the final 24 minutes, following Bobcat touchdowns, the Bears went up top for the bomb, striking back with single-play drives of 71 and 70 yards. That, and a 14-0 early deficit – made infinitely more damaging at 21-0 by a late TD gift from ‘Cat to Bear – and this one was history.
EHS ran the ball exceedingly well, collecting 310 yards and seeing both Hearlin Benavides and Eric Cano surpass 100 (the latter 200, with 204 on 11 carries). But the ‘Cats could not balance that with any aerial success, finishing 5 of 13 for a pedestrian passing 37 yards. Meanwhile, the Bears ran for just 46 steps but supplemented that paucity with 372 yards off the arm of Trey Guajardo, one of the Valley’s most exciting quarters.
Aside from that contrast of styles, mistakes were the difference Thursday night. The ‘Cats missed an early chance when a field goal sailed just left in the first period. The defense did its work in the beginning, holding the high-octane Bears without a point through a quarter, but eventually Pharr got to cranking.
Down 14-0 later in the half, Edinburg got a break when the Bears coughed up a fumble on a punt return near midfield with Aaron Garza recovering. But the ‘Cats gave it right back on an interception, spoiling the opportunity.
The Bears then drove inside the EHS 30 before a big tackle for minus-4 by C.J. Renteria stunted the charge in the final minutes of the half.
With a shot at running out the clock and heading to the lockers down two scores, the home side unfortunately then committed the error of the night and it turned the tide for good. A punt snap sailed over Raymond Quintanilla’s head, resulting in a 30-yard loss and setting Pharr up at the 2 with nine seconds left before the half. Guajardo scooted in for the three-score lead and that was that.
The club showed real fight on the second thanks to the inspired contributions of Cano, recently named the TAAF Male Athlete of the Year in town. He broke swerving, exciting runs of 81, 40, and 52 yards to set a career-high for rushing yardage. Benavides rumbled for 155 yards to break the 1,000-yard barrier, scoring twice.
The loss was not a killer as the ‘Cats look ahead to this week’s clash against North. In two battles with league powers, the team has put a fine half together in each; the first half against Vela and the second Thursday versus the surprising Bears, now 7-0. Four quarters of solid play against the Cougars might lead to a victory, with the rest of the slate showing a home match against cellar-dwelling P-SJ-A Southwest and a season closer Nov. 9 at Pharr North.
VELA RACES TO 7-0
With the league’s top defense and an offense averaging 44 ppg, Vela is hot on the trail of a district championship. To do that, the unbeaten SaberCats must defeat Pharr North at home Thursday before a huge brawl in the Tri Cities against similarly unblemished P-SJ-A Nov. 2.
The Sabes, who churned out of a slow start last week to hammer P-SJ-A Memorial, 38-7, will take on a North squad that has won two in a row after a 0-5 beginning. Though the buzz is already building for the Sabes-Bears contest, Vela will not take the Raiders lightly, one suspects.
Pharr North is not an offensive powerhouse, having averaged just more than 16 ppg this season, allowing 22. But after wins against Edinburg North and P-SJ-A Southwest, Marcus Kaufmann’s club is in the race as one of four teams in 31-6A with 2-2 records; besides EHS and Edinburg North, Memorial is also at .500 after four games.