Special to the PRESS
PORT ISABEL — It wasn’t pretty. Boy, was it not pretty.
But the most important thing is that the Port Isabel Tarpons are 2-0 on the young season after a 36-27 win over Rio Grande City in the home opener at Tarpon Stadium on Friday night.
In sending the Rattlers to 0-2, the Tarpons got contributions from all over, and there were some new faces wearing familiar numbers.
Alex De los Santos, wearing the old 42 of stud LB Esteven Montelongo, did the number proud with 113 yards and two touchdowns on the night. De los Santos ran tough and determined and broke away for scores of 11 and 41 yards.
Wearing Jacques Guillot’s trademark 1, sophomore QB Trey Mock rushed for 102 yards and two long TDs of his own, including one that would make Madden players stand up and applaud.
And J.J. “The Rocket” Gonzalez, wearing his 21 of a year ago, turned in a workmanlike 103 yards and a score.
The game’s pace was considerably slow due to some injuries on both sides, but perhaps more noticeable were the 31 combined penalties between the two squads. Big Blue was the culprit 19 times, including 13 in the first half alone. All told, PI was penalized 138 yards on the night.
An extremely slow start for PI was noticed when Rio struck first on a one-yard plunge by QB Jason Gorena which made it 7-0 Rattlers.
But the Tarpons answered on the 11-yard score by De los Santos which knotted the game at 7 at the 1:11 mark of the first.
Some miscommunication led to a PI fumble which the Rattlers gladly recovered and cashed in on a 2-yard run by Gorena. The kick was missed as it was 13-7 Rio with 11:23 left in the second.
That’s when PI’s De los Santos had more heroics with a beautiful 41-yard TD jaunt and Misael Nava’s all-important PAT gave the Tarpons a 14-13 edge with just over five minutes to go.
Then it happened.
On a QB keeper, Mock ran toward the end zone and trucked a Rattler defender over as he completed his 25-yard TD run. On the play, Mock, who dished out significant contact on some good runs, barreled in to give PI a 20-13 lead it took into the locker room.
In the second half, Gonzalez scooted in from five yards away and Nava drilled a 35-yard field goal to push the lead to 29-13 with two minutes left in the third. Rio answered with a long TD pass and two point pass to make it a one score game at 29-21 at the end of the third.
But Mock put it out of reach on a wonderful 42-yard dash to the end zone making it 36-21 Tarps with 10:21 to go in the game. Rio later added a score for the final margin.
The Tarpons are home again next week when they host 1-1 Hidalgo, a big winner over Progreso Friday.