BY ARMANDO GARZA |
SAN BENITO — Although it wasn’t the case, one could assume that a pink racing bunny circled the Bobby Morrow Stadium infield on Friday night.
Because as fast as the San Benito Greyhounds played on both sides of the ball, their home opener certainly felt more like a night at the dog track.
The ‘Hounds broke open a 7-7 game with a dizzying display of speed, tempo and tenacity as they stymied San Antonio East Central 49-28 in the Valley Morning Star’s Game of the Week.
San Benito (2-0) got big plays on offense to tire out East Central (1-1) and stay perfect on the young season heading into its final non-district tuneup next week vs. McAllen Memorial.
“It was our first home game and a great atmosphere against a great team. They (East Central) were a more physical team (than last week) and that’s what we wanted to see, but our kids stepped up and played well,” San Benito head coach Dan Gomez said afterward. “I (feel) I didn’t do a good job managing the game, and I’m gonna do a better job of that, but my coaching staff picked me up today and did a good job.”
Gomez’s squad, expected by some to rebuild after losing several key pieces of last year’s 10-3 team, found its footing early on, but it certainly wasn’t easy against a tough Hornets squad.
Quarterback Erick Retta opened the scoring for San Benito with a five-yard TD but East Central answered on Jauwan Hall’s 69-yard run to knot the game at 7 with 10:56 left in the second quarter.
Later, a lost fumble ended a promising SB drive, but Tyrone Harper plunged in from a yard away to give the ‘Hounds a 13-7 lead they never relinquished. Harper asserted himself as a go-to back, going for nearly 150 yards on the ground. Overall as an offense, San Benito churned out almost 500 total yards.
East Central displayed speed and athleticism, but struggled to string together drives thanks to a stingy Greyhound defense. Hornet QB Blade Strzelczyk was under constant duress, including big first-half sacks by SB linebackers Richie Moreno and Emilio Garza.
San Benito marched down the field right before half, but reached the Hornet 1-yard line as time expired.
After intermission however, things got interesting.
In what turned out to be a marathon of a third quarter, taking nearly 50 real-time minutes, the turning point of the game set off a furious flurry.
San Benito opened the second half with possession but Retta was picked off deep in Hornet territory. The ball was returned near midfield, however, a roughing-the-passer penalty gave the ball back to the home team, much to the chagrin of East Central. Four plays later, Retta connected with Tyler Solis on a 29-yard TD strike. Interestingly, the PAT was blocked and returned by the Hornets for two would-be points, however, that too, was wiped off due to penalty. The crazy sequence was a suitable metaphor for the period as the ‘Hounds led 19-7 at the 10:44 mark.
For East Central, Kahijah Matthews later reeled in a 48-yard TD bomb, but SB’s Retta countered with a 16-yard scoring scamper. Speedy junior Isaiah Trevino scored the conversion to make it 27-14 ‘Hounds. Later, Harper plowed through several Hornets en route to an impressive 28-yard scoring romp and capped the conversion run, making it 35-14 with 5:17 still left in the third. As the Hornets went hurry-up, Matthews scored on an 11-yard reception, closing it to 35-21, but San Benito’s Marcelino Morales turned a screen pass into a 52-yard TD, putting the score at 42-21 and giving the Hounds a three-TD cushion.
In the fourth, Retta hit Isaac Pope for a 37-yard bomb while East Central’s Matthews caught his third TD to close out the scoring.