Lions fall 31-14 to Del Valle in first district game
By Alonzo Garza
Cool temperatures and hot competition were the order of the evening at Del Valle’s Veterans’ Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 9. After holding steady with the fiercely competitive Del Valle Cardinals for the first half of the game, the Lions fell in a 31-14 showdown in the first district game of the season.
“I am proud
of the total team effort we showed Friday night,” Lion Head Football Coach Robin Rapp said. “Del Valle is a very talented team who is now 5-1. We put ourselves in a position to win in the fourth quarter… we just did not close the deal. It was not because of effort or desire. Down the stretch, in the fourth quarter, they made more big plays than we did and that ended up being the difference in the game.”
Although the first quarter ended scoreless, it was not without its fair share of action.
The game began with the Cardinals receiving and then punting after incomplete passes.
The Lions took over the ball with a first-and-ten at the 30-yard line at 10:19. During the first series of plays, senior standout Dominique Hardaway was injured, taking a break at the sidelines to nurse what at first seemed to be a twisted ankle, but wound up being a serious enough injury to keep him on the sidelines for the duration of the game. Athletic Director Melinda Kirst declined to comment on Tuesday as to the nature of Hardaway’s injury, or whether he would be able to return to action on Friday night.
Del Valle later recovered their own fumble for third-and-20 at the 26-yard line with 6:04 remaining in the first. They punted on the fourth down, allowing the Lions to move the ball into Del Valle territory with relative ease.
The Lions took a time out on a fourth-and-two with 1:02 remaining and followed it with a first-and-ten at the 23-yard line after a Joseph Bell rush. Tyler Tolley rushed for a first-and-goal with less than a minute to go in the first.
The second quarter began with the Lions in great field position after the 58-yard drive closed the first quarter and placed them in scoring position. They used the advantage quickly, as Tolley completed a 4-yard pass to Karl Grieger for the Lions’ first score of the game at 10:28.
After about seven minutes of battling it out on the field, the Lions lost their first fumble to the Cardinals with three minutes remaining in the half.
Del Valle took a first-and-ten at the 25-yard line and moved the ball forward until their first touchdown of the night with 50 seconds remaining on the clock.
The extra point kick failed, leaving the Lions ahead 7-6 as the teams made their way to the locker rooms.
The third quarter began with the Lions at a first-and-five at the 34-yard line. With a combination of rushing and passing plays, the Lions moved to the goal line and scored on a first-and-goal rush by Tolley. Brooks Pittman followed up with a field goal and closed the Lions’ scoring at 14.
The Cards took a first-and-ten at the 20-yard line and wasted no time moving the ball downfield. At 3:21 the Cardinals had a third-and-13 at the 49-yard line and threw a long pass to the right side of the field for a disputed pass that was ruled incomplete by the officials. The Cardinals then ran the exact same play again and connected with the receiver for a first-and-ten at the 11-yard line with 3:05 to go.
The Cardinals went in for their second touchdown with 2:52 left in the quarter, but were unable to make good on an attempt for a two-point conversion.
The Lions could not gain enough momentum to return to the end zone as the third quarter wound down. The Cards regained control of the ball at the 34-yard line and pushed a scoring drive through to the goal line as the last 50 seconds ticked off the clock. Once again, however, they missed the extra point attempt and closed the quarter’s scoring at 18-14.
Missed opportunities plagued the Lions throughout the fourth, beginning early in the quarter when Tolley was sacked and fumbled the ball, opening up an opportunity for the Cardinals to increase their lead to 24-14 with a 70-yard scoring drive.
The Lions made another attempt at a rally, fighting back to third-and-goal at the 6-yard line with just over five minutes left to play.
An industrious Cardinal intercepted a Tolley pass and ran it back to the 48-yard line, setting up Del Valle’s final scoring drive.
Del Valle ran the ball in for a touchdown but flags on the play made them return to the 40-yard line. By 4:43 Del Valle was at the 31-yard line and by 2:59 they were at the 20-yard line with a first-and-ten. At 2:15 Del Valle had a first-and-goal at the three-yard line and by 1:50 the Cardinals scored their fourth touchdown. The extra point kick was good for a score of 31-14.
Although the Cardinals got in one last kick and Tolley made a final pass, an interception gave the Cardinals possession and the chance to take a knee and run out the clock, earning a 31-14 victory over the Lions.
Tolley passed for a total of 174 yards on the night, with 11 completions in 21 attempts, with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led in rushing, with 111 yards and one touchdown in 24 attempts. Joseph Bell picked up 27 yards on the ground, in nine rush attempts, while Hardaway was able to add 26 yards in six attempts before he was injured.
Brian Martinez led the night in receiving, picking up 73 yards with six receptions. Grieger added 23 yards in three attempts, while Kendall Till picked up 19 yards with one attempt.
On Friday night, Oct. 16, the Lions will host longtime district nemesis the Hays Rebels, who are struggling this season with their first losing record at the opening of district play since 1970. While the Rebels opened district play with a 35-14 win over the Elgin Wildcats, the Rebels are at 1-5 (1-0) on the season, while the Lions stand at 4-2 (0-1).
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and the Lions will also host members of the community for the Old Timers’ Game.
See you at the game.