GERONIMO -- The Apaches were one half of football away from beating Navarro for the first time since they’ve begun playing the Panthers five years ago in the non-district portion of their schedule. Despite playing what head coach Kodi Crane described as the best football Gonzales has ever played under his reign during the first half, the third quarter could be described as the worst they’ve played.
“The first half, that was the best football I’ve seen in Gonzales,” Crane gushed. “That was a dominating performance against a good football team.”
Leading 28-6 in the second quarter, Gonzales finished the half up 28-12. The Apaches were set to receive the ball to start the third quarter. Then everything went downhill.
“It was probably the worst quarter I’ve ever been a part of,” Crane said of the third quarter. “Whenever they got momentum, we could not take it back. And it was over and over and over again. That’s where we have got to take a deep breath and go make a play to get momentum back.”
That big play never came for the Apaches.
First it was a five-play, 74-yard drive highlighted by a 32-yard rush by Euler DeLeon, then a 33-yard touchdown run by Johnny Alegria. After recovering a fumble, the Panthers went on a seven-play, 65-yard drive to cut the lead to 28-26. An Apache fumble on the kickoff led to the Panthers taking over on Gonzales’ 45, leading to a six-play, 45-yard touchdown drive, giving Navarro the 34-28 lead. The Apaches offense couldn’t get things going, committing four fouls on their drive, including a facemask on the punt, to give Navarro the ball on the Panthers’ 49-yard line. Three plays later, the Panthers score a touchdown. Their extra-point kick gave them 29 unanswered points.
“We’ve got to be able to make a play to regain momentum,” Crane said. “Momentum is the biggest factor in all of football.”
The roller-coaster ride that was this Gonzales-Navarro game didn’t just come with lows. The first half of football was dominated by the Apaches running game. Led by Elijah Holiday, the Apaches ran for a total of 268 yards, with Holiday coming away with 13 carries for 187 yards and two scores.
“That’s a big shout out to our offensive line,” Crane said.” We don’t have that dominating performance without those big boys up front doing some dominating themselves. It was physical, it was hard, it was downhill and it was great.”
Yet 160 of those yards came in the first half. Other than Holiday’s 79-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, the Apaches’ had just two rushes that went for over 10 yards.
Penalties even began to be an issue for Gonzales in the second half.
“It’s ridiculous, I don’t understand,” Crane said of the 15 called penalties on the Apaches. “Probably [Gonzales] got tired and started grabbing instead of doing like we did in the focus.”
Friday night showed the highest of highs for the Apaches and the lowest of lows. If Gonzales can focus on what went right in the first half, then fix the wrongs from the second half, the Apaches have a shot to be that special team Crane believes they can be.
Gonzales 7 21 0 7 --35
Navarro 0 12 22 21 --55
Rushing -- Gonzales: Elijah Holiday, 13-187-2; James Martinez, 5-39-1; Seth Gibson, 1-8; Ja’Corveon Walton 6-35-1; Dillen Ramos, 2-9
Passing -- Gonzales: Marvin Cardoza, 5-9-59-1;
Receiving -- Gonzales: Heber Cardona, 1-28; Matthew Velasquez-Banda 1-22-1; James Martinez 1-0; Dillen Ramos 1-20; Coby Rodriguez 1-8