CORPUS CHRISTI — Rio Hondo overcame a lackluster first half and fed off its defense, which forced five turnovers, en route to a 42-13 win in a Class 4A Division II bi-district playoff game Friday night at Wildcat Stadium in Calallen.
“At halftime, I told our kids we just needed to keep playing. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties,” said Rio Hondo coach Rocky James. “We turned the ball over on two consecutive drives, but our defense kept us in the game.”
The Bobcats held a slim 14-6 halftime lead and with their high-powered offense out of sync, it was the defense that helped fuel the Cats to their first bi-district win since 2011.
“It’s so sweet, it’s unbelievable.” said James on winning the bi-district title.
Rio Hondo will now face Navarro in a Class 4A DII area round contest at 7 p.m. next Friday at Calallen again.
“Navarro is like Aransas Pass. They’re a tough team that also runs a Slot T offense, so it’s back-to-back weeks we’ll see a Slot T offense,” James said. “We don’t see the Slot T offense a lot in the Valley so it’s difficult to prepare for, but I’m happy with what our defense did tonight against that type of offense.”
Trailing 14-6 early in the third quarter, Aransas Pass was on the move and drove to the Bobcats’ 1-yard line. Rio Hondo forced a fumble and recovered it in the end zone setting up the offense at its own 20.
Senior quarterback Tyler Bush responded and led the Cats on their biggest drive of the night. Danny Vasquez’s 34-yard run set up the go-ahead score from Jesus Garay that gave Rio Hondo a 21-6 lead with 2:29 left in the third quarter.
On the night, Rio Hondo forced five turnovers, and a turnover on downs. Two of the turnovers were forced in the red zone wiping away any scoring opportunities for AP. Josiah Ortega was responsible for an interception while Zeke Guerrero recovered two fumbles.
After struggling to find a rhythm early, Bush hit his go-to man Erik Pizarro for a 34-yard score that sealed the deal putting the Cats up 35-6 late in the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats’ offense outscored Aransas Pass 28-7 in the second half.