Wednesday, October 21, 2015



By Kenneth Roberts
Freelance Writer

In one of the most dramatic football games in many years, the Rio
Grande City Rattlers staged an epic comeback to defeat the Valley View
Tigers 24-18 in a four-overtime District 31-5A thriller at Joe R. Sanchez
Stadium Saturday night.

The Rattlers trailed 15-7 in the fourth quarter, but executed a 50-yard
scoring drive that culminated when quarterback Jason Perez threw a
four-yard scoring pass to Bobby Reyes with 17 seconds remaining in
regulation. Perez then ran for the two-point conversion that tied the
score at 15-15 and forced overtime.

After two scoreless overtime periods, the two teams traded field goals in
the third overtime and Perez ran four yards for a touchdown to give the
Rattlers a 24-18 lead in the fourth overtime. On a fourth and long play,
the marathon game finally ended when a Tiger receiver could not haul in
a pass in the end zone.

In the first overtime, the Tiger kicker was wide on a 33-yard field goal
attempt and the Rattlers seemed poised to grasp victory. The Valley View
defense, however, forced a Rattler fumble inside the 5, forcing a second
overtime. A third overtime became necessary when the Tigers missed a
36-yard field goal try that would have won the second overtime. Rattler
kicker Joel Duarte booted a 36-yard field goal to make a fourth overtime

Most of the first half was basically uneventful, with the Tigers kicking a
field goal in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead. In the second quarter,
Valley View quarterback Richie Sanchez completed two 13-yard passes
to advance the Tigers to the Rio 2. Running back Joseph Alvarez then
scampered two yards for a touchdown with 6:20 left until halftime to
boost the Tigers to a margin that remained 9-0 when the extra point kick

The Tigers drove to the Rattler 22 later in the second quarter, but the
drive fizzled due to a chop block penalty. On fourth and 17, Marcos

Campos caught a pass for a 12-yard completion to the 26, five yards shy
of a first down. The two teams then went into intermission with the
Tigers still holding a 9-0 edge.

Midway through the third quarter, the Rattlers executed a 56-yard
scoring drive that started when Perez ripped off a 10-yard run to the
Tiger 46. On fourth and one, Casimiro Olivarez pounded out a two-yard
gain to give the Rattlers a first down at the 35.

Two plays later, Iram Galvan caught a pass near the right sideline just
short of the 25, evaded a defender, and raced down the sideline into the
end zone for a 33-yard scoring pass with 5:35 left in the third period.
Joel Duarte then kicked the extra point to draw the Rattlers to within 9-

The Tigers expanded their lead when Diego Monjaras caught a punt
inside the 25, raced toward the right sideline, cut back to his left, and
bolted down the left sideline for a 76-yard touchdown return with 9:46
left in the game. The score remained 15-7 when a two-point conversion
try failed.

Late in the fourth quarter, a Tiger punt rolled dead at the Rio 35 and an
illegal block penalty against Valley View advanced the ball to midfield.
On second down, Perez sprinted down the left sideline for a 13-yard gain
to the Tiger 36. On a fourth and three play, Casimiro Olivarez slammed
through left guard for a six-yard gain to the 23 and a crucial first down.
Perez connected with Aaron Leal for an 11-yard completion to the 14,
and found receiver, Jesus Oviedo, for a 10-yard completion to the 4. On
first and goal, Perez connected with Bobby Reyes in the right flat for a
four-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
Perez then rolled to his right and looked to pass, but took off running
and lunged across the goal line for the two-point conversion that tied the
game at 15-15.

In the final seconds, a pass interference penalty against the Rattlers
advanced the Tigers into Rio territory. On the final play, the Tigers lined
up to try a 57-yard field goal, but a delay of game penalty moved them
back five yards. Regulation play ended when quarterback Richie
Sanchez tried a sprintout around left end, but was stopped at the Rio 32.

After being stopped just short of a first down on the first possession of
overtime, the Tigers misfired on a 33-yard field goal attempt. Victory
seemed a certainty for the Rattlers as Aaron Leal and Olivarez each
scampered for nine-yard gains to advance the ball to the 4. Two plays
later, however, the Tiger defense forced and recovered a fumble at the 5,
triggering a second overtime.

In the first possession of the second overtime, the Rattler offense was
stopped outside the 35.  After three Tiger plays gained six yards, a 36-
yard field goal attempt was wide to the left, forcing a third overtime.
On the initial possession of the third overtime, Sanchez completed a 22-
yard pass to advance the Tigers to the 3. On third and goal at the 1, the
Rattlers stopped a running play for no gain and a personal foul penalty
against the Tigers moved the ball back to the 16. The Tiger kicker then
booted a 33-yard field goal to give the Tigers an 18-15 advantage.

The Rattlers gained six yards on three plays, and Joel Duarte then drilled
a 36-yard field goal to tie the game at 18-18 and force a fourth overtime.
On the first possession of overtime four, Perez connected with a receiver
near the right sideline for an eight-yard completion to the 16. An offside
penalty against the Tigers on fourth down gave the Rattlers a first down
at the 11. Olivarez then bolted through the left side for a nine-yard gain
inside the 2. Three plays later, Perez kept the ball through right guard
and lunged across the goal line for a four-yard scoring run. The Rattlers’
lead remained 24-18 when a two-point conversion attempt was

On third and 10, Sanchez threw a swing pass to the left, but the Tiger
receiver was tackled at the 24 for only a one-yard completion. On fourth
and nine, Sanchez rolled to his right and was heavily rushed, but threw a
pass into the right corner of the end zone that a receiver could not bring
in, ending the game and enabling the Rattlers to walk off the field as 24-
18 victors.

No individual or team statistics for either the Rattlers or Tigers were
available. Jason Perez threw touchdown passes to Iram Galvan and
Bobby Reyes, and also ran for the touchdown in the fourth overtime that
ultimately won the game, as well as the two-point conversion that forced

The Rattlers, now 1-2 in district play and 3-4 for the season, kept their
playoff hopes alive with the dramatic victory. They will enjoy an open
week before facing the potent Edinburg Vela Sabercats on the road on
Thursday night, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. As last week’s action concluded, the
Sabercats were undefeated for the entire season and ranked by virtually
all pundits as one of the top teams in the entire Valley.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pioneer Diamondbacks Use Second Half Comeback to Edge Rattlers


By Kenneth Roberts
Freelance Writer

The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks used a late third quarter uprising, triggered by a blocked field goal return for a touchdown, to achieve a 20-10 comeback victory over the Rio Grande City Rattlers at Thompson Stadium in Sharyland Thursday night.

The Diamondbacks drew first blood with a field goal early in the second quarter, but the Rattlers caught fire to take a 10-3 halftime lead. The Rattlers had two scoring chances deep in Pioneer territory in the third quarter, but the second opportunity ended with a blocked field goal that the Diamondbacks returned 72 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Moments later, the Diamondbacks scored immediately to take a 17-10 lead after returning an interception to the Rattler 3.

The Pioneer defense dominated the fourth quarter, holding the Rattler offense completely in check. The Diamondbacks put the game out of reach with a field goal midway through the final stanza.

The Rattler offense was productive in the second quarter as running back Casimiro Olivarez broke loose for runs of 46 and 38 yards and quarterback Jason Perez threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Aaron Leal.

After a punt pinned the Rattlers inside their 10 midway through the first period, the Diamondbacks set up shop in Rio territory and drove to the 22. The Rattler defense stiffened and forced a 37-yard field goal attempt by Leo Rios that was wide to the right.

Later in the opening quarter, the Diamondbacks drove within inches of the Rattler goal line. On third and goal inside the 1, Pioneer quarterback Alejandro Ramirez kept the ball through right tackle, but was stopped inches short of the goal line. On fourth and goal, Salvador Gonzalez took a handoff and tried to dart to his left, but was upended in the backfield at the 4, abruptly ending the Diamondback threat.

Early in the second quarter, the Diamondbacks drove to the Rattler 18, but the stubborn Rio defense yielded no more ground. A false start penalty on fourth down moved Pioneer back to the 24, but Leo Rios kicked a 41-yard field goal with 8:59 left until halftime to give the Diamondbacks a 3-0 edge.

The Rattlers quickly responded as Casimiro Olivarez broke loose through the middle for a 38-yard gain to the Pioneer 26. Quarterback Jason Perez kept the ball around left end for an 11-yard pickup to the 15. Three plays later, Perez connected with Aaron Leal over the middle just across the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 6:10 remaining until intermission.  Joel Duarte booted the extra point to give the Rattlers a 7-3 advantage.

Late in the second quarter, Olivarez slashed through right guard and exploded into the secondary for a 46-yard gain to the Diamondback 31. On fourth and six, a personal foul penalty against the Diamondbacks gave the Rattlers a first down at the 12. A defensive holding penalty against Pioneer then advanced the ball to the 6. On the final play of the first half, Joel Duarte kicked a 23-yard field goal to give the Rattlers a 10-3 lead going into intermission.

The Rattlers gained a golden opportunity early in the third quarter when they recovered a fumbled punt at the Pioneer 28. On third and seven, however, a quarterback sack for a 14-yard loss moved the Rattlers back to the 39.

Moments later, Rio’s free safety, Ivan Garcia intercepted a pass inside the Pioneer 25 and returned the ball to the 19, giving the Rattlers great field position once again. On third and 11, a deep pass was batted away near the goal line. The Rattlers then attempted a 37-yard field goal, but the roof caved in as the kick was blocked and Anthony Jimenez returned the ball 72 yards for a Diamondback touchdown with 3:24 left in the third period to tie the game at 10-10.

On the first play of the ensuing Rattler possession, Pioneer defender Romeo Lopez intercepted a pass inside the Rio 35 and returned the ball all the way to the 3. On first and goal, Brandon Casas took a handoff around right end and darted into the end zone untouched for a three-yard scoring run with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter to give the Diamondbacks a 17-10 advantage.

An interception at the Rio 33 gave the Diamondbacks another opportunity, but the Rattler defense snuffed out the threat, stopping a fourth down running play for a 15-yard loss at the Rattler 43.

With roughly seven minutes left in the game, the Rattlers faced a fourth and two situation at their 34 and decided to gamble, but a running play was stopped for a one-yard loss, giving the Diamondbacks the ball at the Rio 33. Moments later, Leo Rios booted a 42-yard field goal with 5:40 remaining to increase Pioneer's margin to 20-10.

On the first play of the ensuing Rattler possession, an interception at midfield was returned to the Rio 11. The Diamondbacks reached the 5, but a running play was stopped at the 7 for a two-yard loss. Pioneer lined up for a 24-yard field goal try, but the holder was tackled at the 17 for a 10-yard loss after fielding a high snap and attempting to run around left end.

Moments later, the Diamondbacks left the field with a hard-earned 20-10 comeback win, staying undefeated with a 6-0 overall record and a district mark of 2-0.

No team or individual statistics for either the Rattlers or Diamondbacks were available as of Friday afternoon.

The Rattlers, now 2-4 overall and 0-2 in district play, will host Valley View on Saturday night, Oct. 10 in their Homecoming game. The Diamondbacks will travel to Edinburg to face the potent Vela Sabercats on Thursday evening, Oct. 8.