LA JOYA — After trailing Rio Hondo by 12 late in the third quarter, La Joya Juarez-Lincoln rallied and scored 15 unanswered points.
Efren Martinez hit Albert Martinez on 4th and 11 for a 39-yard go-ahead score that put the Huskies ahead 36-33 with 5:03 left in the contest.
Rio Hondo had two opportunities to either take the lead or tie the game, but the Huskies defense held their ground sealing the three-point win Friday night in La Joya.
“We struggled on special teams. They (Juarez-Lincoln) had a kick return for a score and we mishandled a snap,” said Rio Hondo coach Rocky James. “After that we did better on special teams, but we didn’t score when we had our chances and I thought we should have come out with a win. The kids played hard.”
The Huskies displayed toughness and climbed back into the game on a 29-yard touchdown from Elias Gutierrez that cut into the Cats’ lead at 33-29 with 9:34 left in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got improve on defense and we turned the ball over. We can’t afford to turn the ball over,” said James. “In the second half we did a great job scoring on offense and defense, and we had them reeling, but we couldn’t put up any more points. Offensively, Gutierrez was the difference maker in this game. He is an unbelievable athlete. I’m proud of the kids. They battled and we did our best and we enjoy playing Juarez-Lincoln.”
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to begin Friday. Juarez-Lincoln’s Gutierrez returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, giving the home team a quick 7-0 lead.
The question heading into the contest was how quick the Bobcats’ offense would take to get in sync after not having played football in over two weeks.
Rio Hondo answered that question on the second play from scrimmage as QB Tyler Bush hit Erik Pizarro for a 60-yard touchdown that tied the game all within the first three minutes of the first quarter.
Late in the first, the Huskies recovered a fumble at the Bobcat 19-yard line. A few plays later Eddie Hernandez capped of the short drive to give the Huskies a 13-7 lead.
Rio Hondo junior running back Adrian Torres got the start in place of injured starting running back Danny Vasquez. After fumbling earlier in the quarter, Torres rebounded with an 11-yard run to paydirt, giving the Bobcats a 14-13 lead. Torres finished with 11 carries for 60 yards and the touchdown.
Both offenses answered each other late in the second quarter. Trailing 21-14 with less than five minutes, Rio Hondo rolled the dice and went for it on 4th and 3. Bush hit Pizarro to set up a 22-yard touchdown pass to Frank Hernandez that tied the game at 21.
Pizarro finished with a team high seven catches for 223 yards and two scores.
In the second half, Rio Hondo came out swinging. Bush hit Pizarro on 36-yard strike to give the Cats a 28-21 lead.
On the defensive side of the ball, Gabriel Martinez added two more points via a safety and Rio Hondo looked to be in control at 30-21.
The Bobcats’ biggest lead came after a field goal made it a 33-21 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Rio Hondo (0-1) will travel to Brownsville St. Joseph (1-1) next week in what will be another tough challenge. Meanwhile, the Huskies (2-0) will gear up for Donna North (0-2) in Week Three action.