Just a minute into the second half of their Friday, Sept. 10, contest against Fredericksburg, it looked like Gonzales might pull off a big upset win on Homecoming night at Apache Field.
On the first play after the second half kickoff, junior running back Derrick Garza outraced everyone 70 yards for his second TD of the night to give the Apaches an 18-14 lead that had the home crowd on their feet.
Unfortunately, victory was not to be for the Tribe as the Billies scored the final 28 points of the game to snag a 42-18 win.
The loss dropped Gonzales to 1-2 overall, while Fredericksburg improved to 3-0 after spoiling the Apaches’ home opener.
Fredericksburg came into the game ranked 16th in Class 4A Division I and it appeared the game might get out of hand early when the Billies scored two early touchdowns. On their first possession of the game, Fredericksburg wasted little time. Quarterback Cole Immel connected with Jesse Leija on a 45-yard TD pass and Jovany Alva’s kick made it 7-0 with 11 minutes left in the first quarter.
Four minutes later, Immel took to the air again and connected with Mason Reeh for a 20-yard TD pass. Alva’s kick increased the Billies’ lead to 14-0.
Gonzales head coach Mike Waldie settled down his troops and the Apaches began moving the ball against a very fast, very talented Fredericksburg defense that helped out Gonzales’ cause with poor decision-making which led to a number of penalties.
In the second quarter, junior quarterback Jarren Johnson scrambled left, avoided a rush and connected with Garza on a short pass, which the speedster then took the distance for a 49-yard TD reception. A Billie penalty on the conversion attempt allowed the Apaches to go for two and Cesar Matamoros ran in the ball to make it 14-8.
Gonzales’ Braden Barfield stopped a Fredericksburg drive later in the second quarter with an interception of a Will Degenhardt pass.
Late in the first half, Gonzales drove the ball down towards the Fredericksburg goal line and it appeared the Apaches might tie the game, but penalties stifled any more progress and the Apaches settled for a 24-yard Jonathan Tejada field goal to cut the lead to 14-11 with a minute left in the first half.
At halftime, senior Trinity Barr was crowned Homecoming Queen, while senior Brett Breitschopf was crowned Homecoming King as the Gonzales Homecoming Court was honored.
As stated earlier, the Apaches took over their only lead of the game with Garza’s run and Tejada’s PAT early in the second half. It would be a short-lived one, however.
Fredericksburg took to the air again and Immel, who was injured and briefly left the field in the first half, connected once more with Reeh, this time on a 15-yard TD toss that allowed the Billies to retake the lead. Alva’s PAT made it 21-18.
Gonzales drove the ball into Fredericksburg territory on their next possession, but turned the ball over on downs when a fourth down conversion at their opponents’ 35 failed. Leija scored again, this time on a 40-yard TD run with seven minutes left in the third quarter and Fredericksburg upped their advantage to 28-18 after Alva’s PAT.
The Apaches got the ball back and tried to go to the air, but Layton Beyer intercepted a Johnson pass and set up the Billies at the Gonzales 27. Leija then scored for the third time of the night, punching it in from eight yards out. After Alva’s PAT, the score was 35-18 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Gonzales again moved the ball deep into Fredericksburg territory, but failed to convert a crucial fourth down, this time at the Billies’ 29, turning the ball back over to the visitors.
Then late in the game, the Billies found the end zone one last time when Stephen Wade took it in from three yards out and the PAT closed out the scoring at 42-18.
Gonzales gained 114 yards on the ground on 31 carries, with Garza leading all Apaches with 13 carries for 97 yards. No other Apache had more than seven yards rushing.
Johnson connected on 12 of 26 passes for 195 yards with a TD and a pick. On the receiving end, Breck Eleby caught four passes for 77 yards, while Josh Esparza had three catches for 38 yards. Garza had the one catch for 45 yards and Breitschopf had a 20-yard reception as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, Mason Najevar was all over the field, tallying nine solo tackles and three assists for 12 total tackles, while Davonte Smith (7-2) had nine and Kamren Leal (6-1)and Jeremiah Hastings (5-2) each had seven.
For Fredericksburg, the Billies racked up 198 yards on 30 carries with most of that coming from Leija, who rushed 16 times for 144 yards and two scores. Wade had 26 yards on four carries and a TD.
Immel was eight for 18 passing for 135 yards and three TDs with no interceptions.
Gonzales travels this Friday night to play Ingleside as the Apaches look to even up their record. Game time is 7:30 p.m.