CORPUS CHRISTI -- Usually relying on their defense, it was the Apaches offense that propelled Gonzales (8-2) to the area round with their 48-27 victory over the Rio Grande City Grulla Gators (4-7) Friday night at Flour Bluff ISD’s Hornet Stadium.
“We went on a three hour road trip, we beat a team that we knew nothing about, we’re 1-0 in the playoffs and in the third season,” Gonzales head coach Mike Waldie said. “We almost scored 50 points on offense, we had a blocked kick on special teams, we did a lot of good things. We didn’t play well defensively tonight, and we’re just going to have to go back -- I think the game plan may have got to us a hair, but we’ll watch from it, we’ll learn from it and for the first one, I’m too old not to celebrate victories. I’ll tell you that.”
Despite some second-half defensive mistakes, the Apaches made up for it with their electric offense, scoring immediately on their first possession, a 71-yard touchdown rush by Arbreyon Dora. The senior Apache was everywhere, coming away with an interception and returning a blocked field goal for a 74-yard touchdown.
“What did he not have tonight?” Waldie said. “The kid had a touchdown from scrimmage, a two-point conversion, he had a blocked extra point, return for a touchdown, I think other than kicking off he might have accomplished it tonight. What a game.”
Dora wasn’t the only two-way player that had big plays. Defensive ends Lion Williamson and Diego Diaz de Leon each had a role on offense, with Diaz de Leon coming away with a key first-down-converting carry and Williamson grabbing a 36-yard reception on 3rd and long.
“Now you win or go home, so there’s no saving anybody,” Waldie said of his athletes playing both sides of the ball. “We had a time in the year where we had to get to that point, where we had to be careful and make sure we got to the playoffs healthy. Since then we’ve made that transition. I’m very proud of this team and those kids playing both ways are doing a great job.”
After going up 27-7 at the half, the penalties started to rain in the third quarter. Whether it was pass interference, holding, false start or even a sideline interference call, the normally-disciplined Apaches racked up too many flags, allowing the Gators to move down the field and score three touchdowns in the second half.
“I think it got to us, just a little bit, in the moment tonight,” Waldie explained. “First time I’ve seen that since I’ve been here, we had some stupid penalties, some stupid situational football, we had some turnovers, that’s not Apache football, especially this team. The good news is, we overcame it and I think they now understand the importance of what we’ve been preaching, because it actually came into fruition tonight.”
“We’ll preach all week about getting those jitters out, and we’ll focus on the things that we didn’t do well, and that’s what good teams do, learn from their mistakes,” Waldie added. “Unfortunately we made a bunch tonight, but fortunately we also came out with a 21-point victory. I’m never going to be upset putting 40 up on the board and winning by 21, I can promise you that. But we got to clean it up with what’s left in the bracket.”
Waldie also touted quarterback Heath Henke, running back Dillen Ramos and the offensive line’s stellar performance tonight.
“Thank goodness everything we needed something, we answered, and it was because of our offensive line tonight. Period,” Waldie said. “When something went wrong, and we had some crazy things go wrong tonight, we could have really let [Grulla] back in the game, and we answered every time and it was because of our o-line.”
“DIllen Ramos ran the ball really well tonight, too,” Waldie added. “He’s back healthy, so that helps. And you forget about Heath, Mr. Superman, had about 100 tonight, four touchdowns. Another really good performance from that young man, he’s really special.”
Gonzales takes on Lampasas, the winner of District 14-4ADI, next Friday, Nov. 22 at Pflugerville ISD’s stadium at 7:30 p.m.