HARLINGEN — In what is being pegged their biggest upset since defeating Abilene in 2011, the Harlingen Cardinals did what no Cardinal team has done before: Beat San Antonio Reagan.
On Friday night there was just that magical feeling that something special was brewing.
With less than a minute left, Cardinals quarterback/punter Daniel Ramirez pinned the Rattlers at their own 1-yard line. On the very next play, pure nirvana happened as senior linebacker Eladio Flores sacked Reagan quarterback Cade Cogburn for a safety giving the Cardinals a 22-20 lead with 43 seconds left.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Rattlers muffed the ball and Harlingen’s Jaime Galvan recovered the loose ball to seal the Cardinals’ win and send Boggus Stadium into a frenzy.
“I’m very happy right now; to be the first team to beat Reagan,” said Flores “On that last defensive play I went 100 miles per hour and I didn’t think, I just rushed in and got the sack. It was surreal and I didn’t think I could get it but I did. This win brings up our confidence because we’re a young team. This is something we can build on.”
Cards coach Manny Gomez was just as thrilled.
“That is what you call a 48-minute game,” said Gomez. “Honestly, I’m glad they (Reagan) didn’t start throwing the ball earlier and they had a lot of size. They discovered something late, but thank God it was late. Other than that, I’m super ecstatic for our kids. They have been working really hard and they have had to grow up. They competed tonight and I’m proud.”
CARDS DIDN’T BACK DOWN: Harlingen made the early statement on third and long as Nathan Martinez picked off a Cogburn pass to set up the Cardinal offense at the 41-yard line.
The Cards, led by Ramirez, directed the offense and cashed in on a pair of Jacob Garza field goals that gave Harlingen a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After giving up the lead at 7-6 with under two minutes left in the half, on third and long Ramirez hit Joe Reyna for a 43-yard strike that gave the Cards a 13-7 lead at the half. Reyna had quite the night hauling in seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
In the third quarter, Ramirez hit Ethan Martinez on a 7-yard strike to extend the Cards’ lead to 20-7 late in the third quarter. Ramirez finished the game with 202 yards, two touchdowns while going 19 for 26 through the air.
“They (Reagan) can compete; it was tough,” said Reyna. “We stayed strong for four quarters and I thank my team for keeping me focused and my quarterback for trusting me to make plays. I’m excited right now to be able to beat a San Antonio team in Harlingen. It’s surreal.”
RED BIRDS HOLD OFF LATE RALLY: At the start of the fourth quarter, Reagan trailed 20-7, but Cogburn hit Konner Fox for a 33-yard touchdown that pulled the Rattlers within a touchdown at 20-13 with 6:05 left. Reagan wasn’t done as it forced a three-and-out on its next drive. Cogburn again showed off his arm on a 52-yard strike to Drew Ureste that tied the game at 20 with 2:57 remaining.
Harlingen (2-1) will enter its bye week on a high note and will have two weeks to prepare for Harlignen South (1-2) on Sept. 29.