Cardinals drop 3rd straight to put playoff chances in jeopardy

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Cardinals could not overcome a slew of turnovers, saw their losing streak extend to three games and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Brownsville Hanna continued its storybook season with a 32-6 win Friday night at Boggus Stadium in the Valley Morning Star’s Game of the Week.

The Eagles (7-2, 5-1) rebounded in a big way after a rough Week Nine loss to San Benito. With the win, Hanna clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2009 and beat Harlingen for the first time since 1993.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in league play.

Hanna will meet Weslaco East and Harlingen will prepare for San Benito in the final week of the regular season.

“I hate to go back in time, but last week we struggled but I believe we belong where we are,” said Hanna head coach Mark Guess. “We knew if we wanted to make the playoffs we had to win here in Harlingen and take care of business. This week we had a great week of practice and it showed. The kids came in with the right mind set and much credit to Harlingen. They’re a heck of a team and program.”

After a turnover-filled first half, Hanna held a slim 3-0 lead after a 50-yard field goal by Miguel Payan at the buzzer.

Both offenses struggled to find the end zone with Hanna turning the ball over twice while the Cards coughed it up three times in the first half.

After a 33-yard touchdown run from Ceasar Mancias, however, the momentum fully shifted with Hanna leading 10-0. A muffed punt saw Hanna recover the ball at the Cardinal 1-yard line and sophomore Quarterback Victor Campos gave the Eagles a 17-0 lead after a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

Hanna’s offense then exploded for 29 second-half points behind their workhorse running back Mancias. Campos added a touchdown through the air on a 19-yard strike to Rolando Ramirez while teammate Joe Cavazos added to the onslaught with a 49-yard touchdown run that capped off the 32-6 win.

Despite the lopsided score, Harlingen got a strong effort from its defense, which yielded just three first-half points and forced turnovers led by Garrison Medley and Sam Alonzo.

But on the night, Harlingen just could not get out of its own way with four turnovers missed chances.

“You can’t make mistakes against a good offensive club like Hanna,” said Cards head coach Manny Gomez. “They just whipped us and my hat’s off to Coach Guess and their coaching staff. They’re doing a great job.

“Tonight was one of those things where it’s hard to keep the kids focused and positive when you’re behind because we’re not used to it, but it is what it is and it’s just part of it.”