After a 75-yard fumble return by Rivera gave the team much needed motivation late in the game, La Feria executed offensively and hold off the Raiders’ flurry.
The visiting Lions spoiled the Raiders’ homecoming in a 21-14 victory. La Feria remains undefeated at 5-0.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” La Feria coach Oscar Salinas said. “They’re a good 6A program. Coach (Tom) Chavez does a great job and the whole staff there. Our kids hung in there and made plays when they needed to, and we were able to win the game.”
Throughout the night, the story was how the Rivera defense stopped La Feria on multiple occasions, including short fields close to the red zone. For the Lions, Avishai Dickerson, who racked up 134 yards on 22 carries against Port Isabel in Week 4, suffered from the aggressive Raiders’ defense.
Dickerson finished with 27 yards on 15 carries but executed when needed.
“Brownsville (Rivera) put up a fight, but we proved that smaller or bigger, it doesn’t make a difference,” he said. “I want to give credit to my O-line. They’re the ones that make things happen up in the front, especially for me.”
Offensively, the Raiders came up short on 12 of 13 drives, hitting paydirt once on a 1-yard run by Ramiro Vega right before halftime. Rivera’s Elian Hernandez knew the Raiders came close to pulling it off but said the team will now have to regroup going forward.
“We almost had it,” Hernandez said. “Defense went hard. Offensively, we have to pick up some things, but we played our hearts out today. … (We’re) going to keep on going and see what we have next.”
The junior wide receiver only caught the ball once for a 24-yard reception from fellow Raiders player Ramsey Rocha.
The second touchdown by Rivera came from Mariano Mendez, who scooped up a Lions fumble on the Raiders’ 25-yard line and ran in for the score.
“(Our defense) did a great job; they played the whole game,” Chavez said. “Our offense didn’t play the whole game. We played one half and forgot about the second half. We just have to fix that, and everybody has to learn from it and learn from our mistakes and just get the mindset that we have to play four quarters.”
Rivera’s defense stopped La Feria 10 times, forced three fumbles and recovered two, the last becoming the second touchdown for the Raiders.
On the La Feria side, the Lions did not score as much as they should have.
The visiting team found itself on the Raiders’ side of the field on several occasions but reached the end zone just three times: on a 5-yard pass from Dorian Hernandez to Emanuel Sanchez during the first quarter; an 8-yard run by Dorian Hernandez with 10:57 left in the game; and a 12-yard reception from Dorian Hernandez to Darius Hernandez three minutes later.
“We’re young on the offensive line so we haven’t really hit our stride, but they played well when they needed to,” Salinas said. “We still have a lot to get better. You have to give a lot of credit to the Rivera defense. They’re really good. It was a good test for our offense tonight.”
The Raiders’ coach said the team will have to work on executing offensively before district play begins.
“If we could’ve scored (on offense), it could’ve been a lot different right now,” Chavez said. “(Our defense) kept us in the game, but we just didn’t deliver offensively. Defense did a great job; my hat is off to them. We just have to correct the offense and get a little bit better.”
Rivera has yet to win a game in the 2018 season. The Raiders will give it another shot Oct. 12 when they take on city-rival Hanna in their first district game of the season.
La Feria will look to improve to 6-0 at home next week against Rio Hondo.