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Rattlers Trounce Roma Gladiators 45-14 in Dominant Season Opening Performance

In a dominating overall performance to open the 2019 season, the Rio Grande City Rattlers thrashed the Roma Gladiators 45-14 in a non-district battle on Friday night, Aug. 30 at Joe R. Sanchez Stadium. The convincing win over the Rattlers’ Starr County rival came in their only non-district game of the 2019 season. The Rattlers will launch District 16-5A Division I play this Friday on the road against the La Joya Palmview Lobos. The Rattlers seized control of the game from the beginning, building a 10-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. They increased their halftime margin to 24-0, and boosted their advantage to 38-7 by the end of the third period. The Rattler defense played an exceptional game, preventing the Gladiators from gaining a first down until midway through the third quarter and forcing three turnovers. On offense, Rattler quarterback Mario Garza completed 28 of 31 passes and threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Aaron Marroquin caught three touchdown passes, and Allan Garcia scored Rio’s first touchdown of 2019 with a first quarter scoring catch. Backup quarterback Kevin Guerra threw a touchdown pass, and Marc Perez broke a long touchdown run in the final quarter. Perez set up another score with a long kickoff return. The Gladiators’ offensive output consisted entirely of an 81-yard scoring drive in the third quarter and a 64-yard touchdown romp by Luis Gonzalez in the fourth period. On the game’s opening possession, the Gladiators were forced to punt from their 23 and the ensuing kick took a Rattler bounce backwards, covering only 10 yards and enabling Rio to take over at the Roma 33. On fourth and three, Mario Garza connected with Ricky Falcon in the left flat for a six-yard completion to the 20 and a first down. After the drive stalled, Robellin Montez booted a 40-yard field goal with 6:40 left in the opening quarter to give the Rattlers a 3-0 lead. The Rattlers again forced the Gladiators to punt and set up shop at the Rio 46. Aaron Marroquin took a screen pass and raced to the Roma 26 for a 15-yard completion. On third and 11, Mario Garza threw a deep pass down the left sideline that Allan Garcia caught just across the goal line for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 2:35 remaining in the first period. Montez booted the extra point to extend the Rattlers’ advantage to 10-0. The Rattlers quickly gained another opportunity by recovering a fumble at the Roma 36. Daniel Falcon came up with the ball for the Rattlers. Rio carved out one first down on a pass from Mario Garza to JC Nunez, but the drive stalled at the 21. Montez then attempted a 38-yard field goal, but the kick was wide to the right. On the next Rattler possession, Garza was forced to scramble, but escaped pressure and threw a strike to Allan Garcia on the left side just past midfield and the receiver scampered to the Roma 40 for a 24-yard completion. A block-in-the-back penalty nullified a 33-yard scoring run by Garcia, but Angel Galvan broke loose for a 13-yard run to the 16. On first and goal, Garza dropped back and was heavily rushed, but he found an opening in the middle and struggled through several defenders across the goal line for a six-yard scoring run with 5:14 remaining until halftime. Garza then took the snap on the extra point try, ran to his right and powered his way into the end zone for a two-point conversion that increased the Rattlers’ margin to 18-0. On the ensuing possession, the Gladiators fumbled a handoff and the Rattlers recovered at the Roma 28. RGC’s Luis Hernandez recovered the fumble. On second and seven, Garza threw a swing pass to Angel Galvan, who raced down the right sideline for a 15-yard completion to the 10. On the next play, Garza dropped back and fired a pass across the middle that Aaron Marroquin caught just short of the goal line and the receiver lunged into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 3:13 left until intermission. The score remained 24-0 when the extra point attempt was blocked. The Rattlers got another chance before halftime by recovering a fumble at the Gladiator 23, with RGC’s Anthony AJ Ortiz coming up with the ball. The Rattlers converted a fourth and 1 when Galvan scampered 10 yards to the 4, but a personal foul penalty against Rio nullified the play. On fourth and six at the 19, Garza was unable to connect with a tightly covered receiver in the right corner of the end zone. The two teams then went into intermission with the Rattlers owning a 24-0 lead. The Rattlers tightened their grip on the game by driving 75 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter. Garza connected with Artemio Alvarez and Allan Garcia for completions of 11 and 12 yards to move the Rattlers into Roma territory. Garcia then caught a swing pass and broke loose down the left sideline for a 23-yard completion to the 15. On second and seven, Garza rifled a pass across the middle that Aaron Marroquin caught inside the 2 and the receiver powered his way across the goal line for a 12-yard scoring pass with 6:35 left in the third period. Montez’ extra point kick was on target to boost the Rattlers to a 31-0 advantage. The Gladiators, who had been stopped without a first down for the entire game, then executed an 81-yard scoring drive. Jesus Ibanez ripped off two straight 14-yard runs to move the ball to the Roma 47. Luis Gonzalez then carved out an 11-yard gain and Fabian Lopez broke loose for gains of 11 and 14 yards to advance the ball to the Rio 4. Two plays later, quarterback Jonathan Rios kept the ball through the middle for a one-yard scoring run with exactly two minutes left in the third stanza. The successful extra point kick reduced Rio’s margin to 31-7. The Rattlers quickly threatened the Roma goal line once again as Marc Perez caught a pooch kickoff near the right sideline, broke loose toward the middle, and motored down the left sideline for a 60-yard return to the Gladiator 12. On third and eight, Rattler quarterback Kevin Guerra threw a swing pass to the right that Aaron Marroquin caught, and the receiver cut back to the middle and darted into the end zone standing up for a 12-yard scoring pass with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Montez booted the extra point to build the Rattlers’ lead to 38-7. The fourth quarter was basically uneventful until the Rattlers started a 91-yard scoring drive after a 66-yard Roma punt. After a 12-yard run by Allan Garcia and a 15-yard reception by Ricky Falcon, Marc Perez took a handoff through right tackle and motored down the right sideline untouched for a 52-yard touchdown romp with five minutes left in the game. Rio’s lead ballooned to 45-7 after Montez’ successful extra point kick. On a second and 13 play in the ensuing Roma possession, Luis Gonzalez broke through a big hole at left tackle and motored down the left side of the field untouched for a 64-yard touchdown scamper with 3:35 remaining. The successful extra point kick reduced the Rattlers’ final victory margin to 45-14. In the final minutes, Marc Perez broke a 26-yard run to the Roma 40. The Rattlers then ran out the clock and put the finishing touches on their convincing season opening victory. Displaying a potent offense, the Rattlers collected 449 total yards, 261 yards passing and 188 yards rushing. Quarterback Mario Garza completed 28 of 31 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns, and added a six-yard scoring run to ignite the Rattler offense. He also ran for a two-point conversion. Aaron Marroquin caught 12 passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns of 10, 12 and 10 yards. Allan Garcia collected five catches for 95 yards, including a 27-yard scoring catch. Backup quarterback Kevin Guerra completed 4 of 5 passes for 29 yards and one touchdown. Angel Galvan contributed five receptions for 26 yards, and Ricky Falcon snared four passes for 32 yards. Marc Perez scampered for 91 yards on only five carries, including a 52-yard touchdown run, and set up another score with a 60-yard kickoff return. Allan Garcia motored for 44 yards on six carries, and Angel Galvan scampered for 23 yards on five attempts. The Rattler defense held the Gladiators without a first down until midway through the third period. Luis Hernandez and Marc Perez paced the Rattlers defensively with 10 and six tackles, respectively. Hernandez and Anthony Ortiz each recovered a fumble. The Rattlers, now 1-0 for the season, will open District 16-4A Division I play this Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the La Joya Palmview Lobos in La Joya. The Lobos, who reached the playoffs in 2018, defeated the Rattlers last year in Rio Grande City. Photo by Omar Riojas / RGCCISD


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