Rattlers Survive Late Rally To Hold Off PSJA Memorial Wolverines 49-41
With a prolific offense that piled up more than 600 yards and helped them build a 22-point lead, the Rio Grande City Rattlers held off a late uprising by the PSJA Memorial Wolverines to achieve a 49-41 triumph in a District 16-5A Division I battle in Pharr Thursday night. The Rattlers led 14-13 after one quarter after briefly trailing 13-7 and built their halftime advantage to 35-20. Their offense continued to be unstoppable in the third quarter, enabling them to increase their margin to 49-27 going into the final period. The Wolverine offense was also exceptional for most of the game and used quick scoring drives of 94 and 59 yards within a five-minute period to draw within eight points. The second scoring drive took only two plays after the Wolverines recovered a Rattler fumble at their 41. After the Wolverines scored their final touchdown with 3:26 remaining, the Rattlers converted a crucial third and 17 situation when Angel Galvan caught a screen pass and scampered 18 yards into Wolverine territory. The Rattlers survived a fumble scare just short of the Memorial goal line before they took a knee and ran out the clock. The Rattlers had one of their all-time greatest offensive games with 621 total yards, 344 yards passing and 277 yards rushing. Quarterback Mario Garza passed for 330 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another score. Aaron Marroquin collected 132 receiving yards and caught two scoring passes, and Jorge Pena, Ricky Falcon and J.C. Nunez each contributed one scoring catch. Angel Galvan romped 49 yards for a touchdown, rushed for 140 yards, and made several crucial catches. The Rattler defense achieved three crucial fourth down stops, two in the second quarter, to quash Wolverine drives in Rio territory. The Wolverine offense did not commit a single turnover, and converted both Rattler turnovers into touchdowns. Approximately 30 minutes before the game’s scheduled starting time at 7 p.m., a “weather alert” was called because lightning occurred within 10 miles. Fans were told to evacuate their stadium seats and seek shelter. After the delay ended, the game started at roughly 7:40 p.m. In the game’s first possession, the Rattlers drove 75 yards for a score in just over two minutes. Aaron Marroquin and Angel Galvan caught short passes and converted them into completions of 21 and 26 yards. On fourth and goal, quarterback Mario Garza powered through right guard and lunged across the goal line for a one-yard scoring run with 9:47 left in the opening quarter to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead. The Wolverines responded with a 73-yard scoring drive as Anthony Pedraza ripped off two 14-yard runs. On a first down play, quarterback Alejandro Leyva arched a pass into the left corner of the end zone and Michael Munoz caught the ball over his shoulder for a 21-yard scoring pass with 6:41 left in the opening stanza. The Rattlers held on to a 7-6 lead when a bad snap fouled up the extra point attempt. On the first play of Rio’s next possession, Wolverine defender Michael Munoz intercepted a deep pass at the Memorial 45 and returned the ball 23 yards to the Rio 32. Anthony Pedraza caught a screen pass and romped to the 7 for an 18-yard completion. On fourth and goal, Leyva lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone and Yahir Miramontes made the catch for a one-yard scoring pass with 2:30 left in the opening period to give the Wolverines a 13-7 advantage. Less than 30 seconds later, the Rattlers regained the lead at 14-13 after Angel Galvan took a handoff around right end and motored down the sideline untouched for a 49-yard scoring romp with 2:01 left in the first period. Marc Perez set up the score with a 49-yard kickoff return to the Memorial 49, and Galvan scored on the first play from scrimmage. The Wolverines again drove into Rattler territory with a 20-yard run by Pedraza, but Leyva was sacked at the Rio 40 for a five-yard loss on fourth down. On first down, Mario Garza connected with Artemio Alvarez on a deep pass down the right sideline for a 40-yard completion to the Memorial 20. On the next play, Garza fired a pass across the middle and Jorge Pena made the catch just short of the 5 and darted into the end zone for a 20-yard scoring pass with 11:33 left until halftime to bolster Rio’s advantage to 21-13. Leyva ignited another Wolverine scoring drive with a 20-yard completion to Yahir Miramontes to the Rio 48. Seven plays later, Pedraza bolted through right guard, broke to the outside, and powered through a defender just short of the goal line for a 17-yard scoring scamper with 6:13 left until intermission to draw the Wolverines to within 21-20. Allan Garcia and Mario Garza then began a 71-yard Rattler scoring drive with runs of 12 and 14 yards. Galvan then scampered through left guard and broke into the open for a 24-yard romp to the Wolverine 21. On first and goal at the 9, Garza rifled a pass across the middle and Aaron Marroquin caught the ball just short of the goal line for a nine-yard scoring pass with 4:32 left in the first half to build the Rattlers’ margin to 28-20. On the ensuing drive, the Wolverines reached the Rio 38 but Leyva was sacked at the 45 for a seven-yard loss on fourth down. Two plays later, Garza lofted a deep pass down the left side that Ricky Falcon caught inside the 10, and the receiver raced into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown pass with 1:32 left until intermission to increase the Rattlers’ advantage to 35-20. The final moments of the first half were uneventful, and Rio went into intermission still owning a 35-20 lead. The Rattler defense held Memorial to minus one yard on three plays to start the third quarter. On the second play of the ensuing Rio possession, Garza arched a deep pass down the right sideline that a wide open Aaron Marroquin caught inside the 30 and the receiver darted into the end zone untouched for a 63-yard scoring pass with 10:36 left in the third quarter to fatten the Rattlers’ margin to 42-20. The Wolverines immediately countered with a touchdown drive as Pedraza ripped off two 10-yard runs and Leyva connected with Daniel Martinez for an 18-yard completion. On third and goal, Leyva arched a pass into the right corner of the end zone and a tightly covered Michael Munoz caught the ball for a six-yard scoring pass with 5:16 remaining in the third period to reduce the Rattlers’ lead to 42-27. The Rattlers responded with a 64-yard scoring drive, overcoming a 15-yard chop block penalty. A 12-yard completion to Ricky Falcon moved the ball to the Rio 48. On fourth and one at the Wolverine 35, Marc Perez pounded through the middle for a four-yard gain to the 31. Garza then hit Jorge Pena on the right side for an 11-yard completion to the 20. On fourth and six, Garza rolled to his left and hit J.C. Nunez near the sideline for an eight-yard completion to the 8. On first and goal, Garza fired a pass across the middle and a wide open Nunez caught the ball in the end zone with 50 seconds left in the third stanza to bolster the Rattler lead to 49-27. The Wolverines moved into Rattler territory when Omar Diaz romped 20 yards to the Rio 41. On fourth and eight at the 39, however, a fierce pass rush forced an incomplete pass across the middle, giving the Rattlers the ball on downs. On first down, Allan Garcia ran a sweep around right end and motored down the sideline for a 37-yard gain to the Memorial 22. Three plays later, Garcia gained six yards on a sweep around right end to give the Rattlers a first down at the 9. On fourth and goal at the 6, backup quarterback Kevin Guerra rolled to his left and fired a pass toward the left corner of the end zone, but the ball was batted away, giving the Wolverines the ball on downs. Three plays later, Omar Diaz took a handoff around right end and broke loose down the sideline, scampering all the way to the Rio 26 for a 54-yard gain, and a face mask penalty against the Rattlers on the play advanced the ball to the 13. On second and 10, Pedraza took a handoff around right end and outran several Rio defenders, powering through one last would-be tackler at the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown run with 6:23 remaining to pull the Wolverines to within 49-34. On the first play of Rio’s next possession, Galvan scampered around right end for a 14-yard gain to the Rattler 39. On third and four, substitute quarterback Michael Ramos hit Aaron Marroquin near the right sideline just short of midfield, and the receiver broke free for a 13-yard completion to the Wolverine 42. Two plays later, however, the Rattlers fumbled and the Wolverines recovered at their 41. Two plays later, Leyva threw a swing pass to the right to Michael Munoz, who broke loose down the sideline and outran several pursuers into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown pass that drew the Wolverines to within one touchdown at 49-41 with 3:26 left in the contest. Memorial then attempted an onside kick and the ball rolled out of bounds, enabling the Rattlers to set up shop at their 48. A holding penalty forced Rio into a third and 17 situation, but Galvan caught a screen pass to the left, cut back to his right and broke free for an 18-yard completion to the Wolverine 41 and a crucial first down. Mario Garza and Galvan scampered for gains of nine and six yards to give the Rattlers another first down at the 26. On the next play, with under 90 seconds left, Marroquin caught a swing pass to the right, cut back to the middle, broke into the open for big yardage, and was stripped of the ball, but another Rattler saved the day by making the recovery at the 1. The Rattlers then took a knee to run out the remaining time and clinch their hard-earned 49-41 victory. The Rattlers harvested 621 total yards, 344 yards passing and 277 yards rushing. Mario Garza completed 16 of 22 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns. Angel Galvan scampered for 140 yards on 13 carries, including a 49-yard scoring romp, and also caught five passes for 44 yards. Aaron Marroquin torched the Wolverine defense for 132 yards on seven catches, including scoring receptions of 63 and 9 yards. Ricky Falcon contributed two receptions for 54 yards, including a 42-yard scoring catch. Jorge Pena chipped in with two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown. Artemio Alvarez’s one catch was good for 40 yards, and J.C. Nunez provided three receptions for 16 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Allan Garcia and Marc Perez each carried five times for 63 and 34 yards, respectively. Mario Garza gained 40 yards on seven carries and scored one touchdown. The Wolverines were an offensive juggernaut as well, especially on the ground. Anthony Pedraza rushed for close to 200 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Alejandro Leyva threw four scoring passes, three of which were caught by Michael Munoz. The Rattlers, now 4-1 in district play and 5-1 for the season, will have an open date this week before resuming action on Saturday night, Oct. 19 with another district clash against the Brownsville Porter Cowboys in Brownsville.