With the Hidalgo Pirates and the Veterans Memorial Patriots both off to 0 – 2 starts this season, something had to give Friday night at Tom Landry Stadium. The fact that this game was both the Patriots’ district 32-4A opener and their third home game in a row, made it a must win for Coach David Gilpin’s team.
With Patriots’ quarterback Adrian Morales on the sidelines after suffering a season ending knee injury last week, freshman quarterback Santos Villarreal took the reigns of the Patriots’ offense and led his team to a 13 - 8 victory against Coach Jorge Pena’s Pirates.
Having gone scoreless in the first quarter of each of their first two games, the VMHS Patriots seemed determined to get off to a quick start by attempting and then recovering an onside kick to open the game. Unfortunately they were not able to convert a fourth down on the Pirates’ 35 yard line and turned the ball over to the Pirates’ offense on downs.
Thanks to a fumble recovery by Frankie Nevares however, the Patriots quickly got the ball back and started their second drive of the game from the Pirates’ 37 yard line. After completions to Isaac Guerrero and Eric Hidrogo got the ball down to the 1 yard line, Patriots quarterback Santos Villarreal ran the ball in himself to make the score 6 – 0 Patriots after a missed extra point. That was all the scoring in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Pirates were on the verge of answering the Patriots’ touchdown with one of their own, when Frankie Nevares intercepted a pass from Pirates’ quarterback Johnathan Cantu and gave the ball back to the Patriots’ offense on their own 20 yard line. With only 41 seconds remaining in the second quarter however, the Patriots’ defense was not able to keep Pirates’ quarterback Johnathan Cantu out of the end zone when he ran the ball in from the 1 yard line. After a missed extra point, the score was tied at six as the second quarter came to an end.
With 6:56 remaining in the third quarter, Gabriel Zamora of the Patriots got in on the scoring when he caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Santos Villarreal. With the extra point tacked on, the score was then Patriots 13 Pirates 6. Later in the third quarter, the Patriots attempt at a field goal fell short keeping the score 13 – 6 Patriots going into the fourth quarter.
After a quick punt pinned the Patriots’ offense inside their own 5 yard line, the Pirates’ defense managed to penetrate the Patriots’ offensive line and disrupted the play enough to score a safety. This made the score VMHS Patriots 13 Hidalgo Pirates 8. Later in the fourth quarter, the Patriots’ Frankie Nevares had an apparent interception called back due to a roughing the passer penalty. It didn’t take Frankie long however to get that interception back when he picked off another Johnathan Cantu pass and returned it to the Patriots’ 21 yard line. With a little over five minutes left in the game and with the Pirates’ deep inside Patriots’ territory, Frankie Nevares comes up with yet another turnover when he recovered a fumble. The Pirates found themselves with one more scoring opportunity with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter but a fumble recovered by the Patriots’ Hector Garza thwarted the Pirates’ final scoring opportunity of the game.
Thanks to an opportunistic defense led by Frankie Nevares, the Patriots were able to chalk up a victory in their first district game of the season. The victory may not have been an impressive one, but a win is a win and being 1 – 0 in district play is all that Coach David Gilpin could’ve asked of his players going into this game. Now the Patriots can set their sights on the winless Juarez-Lincoln Huskies next Friday evening at Coyote Stadium in La Joya in hopes of evening up their overall record at 2 – 2 and remaining undefeated in district play.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.