By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Hidalgo Pirates sailed into Tarpon Stadium last Friday night on a mission. They were determined to slow Port Isabel’s district-leading rushing attack and to prove that they had one of their own. It was mission accomplished on both counts as they won the game, 16-12, and put themselves back in the thick of the playoff race.
They did it by taking advantage of key Tarpon mistakes and using a ball-control offense that kept Port Isabel’s offense off the field for almost the entire third quarter. The Pirates ran 21 plays in the third period and took over 11 minutes off the clock before turning the ball over on an interception.
Hidalgo was actually out rushed by the Tarpons, 204 yards to 150, but used those yards efficiently to retain possession and keep the chains moving. Pirate quarterback Shea Patterson, only a freshman, led his team with 89 yards rushing and completed 15 of 29 passes for another 79 yards.
The Tarpons had the ball twice in the second half for a total of 12 plays, one of which was a 65-yard touchdown run by Jacob Losoya that gave Port Isabel a 12-10 lead with 10:36 to play. Hidalgo came right back with another long, time-consuming drive, this one of 17 plays, and scored on quarterback Shea Patterson’s second one-yard TD run of the night. That put the Pirates back in the lead, 16-12, and that was a final.
Hidalgo improves to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in district play. Port Isabel drops to 6-3, 2-1.
Port Isabel took the opening kick-off and on their second scrimmage play turned the ball over on a fumble. “The snap went right through the quarterback’s hands,” head Tarpon coach Monty Stumbaugh said on Saturday. “You can’t do that.”
Hidalgo took over with excellent field position on the Port Isabel 27-yard line, and four plays later the Pirates led 7-0 after Patterson ran it in from a yard away. On their next series Hidalgo increased the lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard field goal.
Starting from their own 42-yard line on the ensuing possession, after a big kick-off return by Kenny Herrera, the Tarpons needed only two plays to get on the board. Javier Vela went over right tackle and ran past everybody for 47 yards and the score, and late in the first quarter Hidalgo was up 10-6 and that was the score at the break.
A huge opportunity was missed in the second quarter. The Tarpons took over on downs at the Pirate 23, trailing by four, and went for it on fourth down at the Hidalgo six. Quarterback Isaiah Martinez was nailed for a four-yard loss and Hidalgo took over at their own 10.
“We just didn’t execute,” Stumbaugh told the Press on Saturday. “When you get a turnover down at their end and come away with no points, that’s disappointing. For some reason we were flat. They made plays and we didn’t.”
Actually, there were two plays on defense that could have made all the difference. It was Kenny Herrera who made the end zone interception, his second of the night, at the end of Hidalgo’s third-quarter drive that seemed to go on forever. The first one also came in the end zone on a tipped ball when Hidalgo had goal-to-go at the five-yard line in the second quarter.
Jacob Losoya was the Tarpons’ leading ground gainer with 93 yards (9 att., 10.3-yd. ave.) and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a nine-game total of 1,025. Javier Vela finished with 67 yards on four carries for a 16.8-yard average. Juan Aguilera punted once for 52 yards and Kenny Herrera returned two kick-offs for a 31-yard average. Esteven Montelongo led the team with 16 total tackles.
La Feria’s 41-21 win at Progreso on Friday moves them into a tie for first place with P.I., both sides with 2-1 records. At 1-1 Hidalgo is now tied with Rio Hondo, who was off last week, for third place. Progreso is 0-2.
If P.I. wins its last game at Rio Hondo this Friday the Tarpons will clinch at least a share of the district title and make the playoffs. If the Tarpons lose they might not make the post-season. The other district game next week is Progreso at Hidalgo. On Friday, November 9, Hidalgo will be at La Feria for their final contest and Rio ends its regular season at Progreso.
Read this story in the Oct. 29 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.