SaberCats win close one on missed Hanna FG

Hanna Golden Eagle quarterback Victor Campos (2) looks for an open receiver against Edinburg Vela Sabercats Thursday night at Sams Memorial Stadium.

BROWNSVILLE — The Edinburg Vela SaberCats are enjoying their view from the top.

“It was a good old-fashioned football game between two good teams,” head coach John Campbell said after the game. “We are just fortunate to have come out with the win.”

Positioned at No. 1 in the the latest top 10 rankings, the SaberCats protected their positioning for the second straight week by defeating the Brownsville Hanna Golden Eagles 28-27 on Thursday night at Sams Memorial Stadium.

Vela won the non-district collision when Hanna missed a 30-yard field goal with 8 seconds left that sailed wide left.

“They did a good job getting the ball there,” Campbell said. “We just got pressure on kicker.”

The defending District 31-6A champion SaberCats were coming off last week’s 51-46 season-opening road victory against Laredo United, so they’re now 2-0 with a matchup at home against McAllen Memorial next week.

Hanna, coming off a season-opening 42-40 loss at McAllen Memorial, fell to 0-2. The defending District 32-6A champion Eagles next play a non-district game at Sams on Sept. 14 against Weslaco East.

Vela built a 14-0 first-quarter lead and was ahead 28-14 at halftime.

During the first quarter, Vela’s Kevin McKinney scored on a 1-yard run at the 5:29 mark of the period to make it 7-0. Teammate Matthew Luna returned a Hanna fumble 63 yards to increase the lead to 14-0.

Hanna pulled to within 14-7 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Victor Campos to Ernesto Mendoza with 11:01 showing in the second quarter.

Vela again went up by two TDs when Vela defender Joshua Garcia returned a Campos interception 46 yards down the sideline to make it 21-7 with 8:25 to go before halftime.

It became 28-7 when Vela’s Kevin Rojas caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Vela QB Anthony Sotelo with 5:44 remaining in the half.

“A.J. (Sotelo) made some big plays in the first half,” Campbell said. “And we just slowed down in the second.”

Campos broke loose for a 33-yard scoring run down the left sideline to make it 28-14 with 2:35 left before the break.

Campos added a 1-yard TD plunge on a QB keeper with 8:51 left to give the Eagles hope for a comeback win, but it wasn’t meant to be.

“ He’s a heck of a player,” Campbell said about Campos’ play-making ability.