Tarpons remain undefeated with win over Panthers

By Constancio Martinez Jr
Special to the PRESS

The Port Isabel Tarpons and the Aransas Pass Panthers set up the snap during their Sept. 10 game. Photo by Constancio Martinez Jr.

The Port Isabel Tarpons came away with a 41-7 win over the Aransas Pass Panthers this past Friday night. Despite coming in with an 0-2 record the Panthers were eager for a fight. The Panthers had two 6’-2” quarterbacks rotate throughout the game. Panthers QB Zachary Brou, who started the game, had a better arm, but QB Camren Kluender was the better runner. The Panthers’ defense swarmed to the ball carrier, but couldn’t contain PI’s explosive running backs Gilbert Medina, Cross Martinez and Jaden Lopez. The Tarpons’ Trio showcased their big-play ability by scoring three touchdowns in Port Isabel’s first five plays from scrimmage.

The Panthers offense was up first and got off to a rocky start. After being assessed a pair of false start penalties the Panthers were facing a 2nd and 20 at their own 34-yard line. On the next play Brou threw a short pass to the flats that turned into a 32-yard play after the PI defender tried to go for the interception. The “Seawall Defense” buckled down and secured a sack and another tackle for loss that forced the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs. Starting at their own 41-yard line, the Tarpons fumbled the ball on the handoff, but RB Gilbert Medina snatched it up and still picked up 11 yards. Two plays later RB Cross Martinez took the handoff and dashed up the middle for a 44-yard touchdown run. And just like that, the Tarpons’ “Tidal Wave Offense” put the Tarpons up 7-0 with 7:45 showing in the first quarter. 

The next Panthers drive was a little bit chaotic as the AP offense and PI defense each had their moments. After the Tarpons made two quick stops on back-to-back plays, the Panthers picked up 11 yards on a pass to the running back, unfortunately for the Tarpons the refs missed a Panther O-lineman way downfield.  Two plays later to the delight of Tarpon fans, DE Fernando Romero sacked the Panther QB for a 10-yard loss, but to the dismay of fans, the referee called it an incomplete pass. The cheers turned to jeers as the Tarpon fans let the refs know the questionable calls did not sit well with them. The Panthers managed to reach the Tarpons 29-yard line before they were forced to turn the ball over on downs yet again. On the Tarpons’ ensuing drive, Medina ran a sweep play eluding two would-be tacklers before outrunning the rest of the Panthers’ team on his way to a 71-yard touchdown run. The Tarpons went up 14-0 with 2:03 showing in the first quarter. 

In their next drive, the Panthers relied on their passing game, but to no avail as the Tarpons’ tenacious defense was ready and forced a 3-and-out. On the Tarpons’ first play of their next drive RB Jaden Lopez took the handoff and ran up the middle outrunning the Panther defense on route to a 54-yard TD run. Another successful extra point kick by Derrin Valdez put the Tarpons up 21-0 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.  The second quarter played out just about the same as the Tarpons’ defense continued to keep the Panthers out of the endzone while the Tarpons offense scored twice more. The Tarpons scores came via a 26-yard TD run by RB Martinez and a 13-yard TD run by RB Medina as the Tarpons went into halftime with a 35-0 lead. 

The Tarpons opened the second half with a couple of runs, but the fired-up Panthers forced PI to punt for the first time. The little momentum Aransas Pass had quickly faded as DB Gilbert Medina came down with an interception on the Panthers second play of the series. Two plays into the Tarpons ensuing drive, QB Rudy Barrera found receiver Daniel Zamarron wide open for a 57-yard touchdown. A missed extra point kick made it 41-0 with 7:09 left in the third quarter.  The Tarpons then rotated in their backups and the game got more competitive. The Panthers made one final push late in the 4th quarter as they went on a 9-play scoring drive capped by a 16-yard quarterback keeper by QB Kluender for a final score of 41-7.

The Tarpons racked up 438 total yards on offense while limiting the Panthers to 168 total yards. The leading PI rushers were Gilbert Medina who rushed for 145 yards on just six carries (w/2TD) followed by Cross Martinez 74yds/4car/2TDs and Jaden Lopez 61yds/4car/TD. The Tarpons do have to secure the ball more as they had six fumbles during the game, fortunately they recovered all of them. Defensively the Tarpons had a solid game as they forced five punts and forced the ball over on downs four times. Next week the Tarpons will have a bye week and will take the time off to heal and prepare for the upcoming district games.

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