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Aaron Oefinger (21), AJ Camacho (25), Heath Runnels (42), Brad West (42), Jon Koch (32) and coming to join in, Brandon Richter (22) put the stop on Crystal City running back Felix Sanchez in the Owls’ 30-13 bi-district win last Friday at the Honey Bowl.




Marquis Martinez, blocking a third quarter punt, had a big night for the Hondo special teams against Crystal City.





Brandon Richter fights for more yardage while getting his jersey tugged on a 31-yard reception.


Tristan Garza sacks the Crystal QB for a fourth quarter safety.

Hondo scores in variety of ways to rout Crystal

By Jeff Berger
Anvil Herald Sports Editor

Uvalde -- Hondo was in control from start to finish Friday, Nov. 14, at the Honey Bowl, even if the scoreboard might not have reflected that until the middle of the third quarter.

The Owls got an early touchdown, than began to score in rapid succession in the second half, pulling away for a 30-13 bi-district playoff win over Crystal City.

In notching the school’s first playoff victory since the memorable 2006 win over Wimberley in the Alamodome, the Owls will now move to the area round of the Conference 4A-Division II playoffs, where they’ll take on Sinton.

The Pirates, 8-3 on the year and tri-champs of District 15, rolled to a 52-22 win over Port Isabel last Friday at Kingsville.

Hondo, now 6-5 and winners of three straight games, will face Sinton in a 7:30 p.m. game this Friday, Nov. 21, at La Vernia.

“I thought we did an excellent job on defense,” said Hondo Coach Jeff Rochat. “We kept their big back (Felix Sanchez) well under his season average on the ground. And while they did pick up some passing yardage on us late in the game, we were already in control by then.”

Sanchez was averaging over 150 yards rushing per game, but the Hondo defense held him to just 86 yards on 15 carries. He did, however, make up for that with 93 yards receiving. The Javelinas (6-5) put together a total of 321 total yards on the night, but 190 of those came in the fourth quarter. Hondo had already built a 20-0 lead by then.

The teams opened the game by exchanging punts, before the Owls put things together on their second possession.

Starting at their own 29, the Owls’ Willie Keilman and Brandon Richter had runs of 9 and 16 yards to get the ball across midfield. Quarterback Carson Stoner then tossed a screen pass to Keilman, who broke one tackle and was gone for 46 yards to the endzone. Garrett Van Damme’s extra point gave Hondo a 7-0 lead with 7:42 left in the opening quarter.

The Owl defense stopped the next Crystal drive, by disrupting a flea-flicker pass, which ended up with a completion for a loss of 15 yards.

The teams traded punts again, before CC went back on offense. This time, the Javelinas had their only productive drive of the half, picking up three first downs. But on 3rd-and-6 at the Hondo 35, Wesley Rogge stepped up for a big stop on Sanchez for a gain of one. The Javelinas tried the razzle-dazzle again, going back to another flea-flicker, but the pass from quarterback Sebastian Mendoza fell incomplete on fourth down.

Stoner passed to Richter for a gain of 31 to the CC 35. Runs by Stoner and Matt DeLeon, along with a pass to Wesley Rogge, got the Owls to a second down at the 8. But the drive stalled with back-to-back fumbled snaps. On fourth down a 25-yard field goal attempt by Van Damme was wide with 4:23 left in the second period.

Neither team made any noise the remainder of the half.

CC took the second half kickoff and picked up two first downs. Mendoza went to the air, and his throw in the left flat was picked off by Keilman, who brought it back 19 yards to the CC 43.

Three running plays netted a first down for the Owls, then Stoner went back up top, finding Keilman alone for a 30-yard TD reception and a 14-0 lead with 6:49 left in the third.

Again, the Javelinas drove for two first downs on their next possession, but Rogge and Heath Runnels had a tackle for loss on first down, followed by an incompletion on second. On third down, Rogge sacked Mendoza for a 12-yard loss, forcing another punt.

The kick never got away, as Marquis Martinez blocked it, and the Owls recovered at the 13. It was Hondo’s third blocked punt in the last two games.

“Once a team has blocked a punt,” said Coach Rochat, “it’s like blood in the water. Everybody gets confidence that they can get back there, and you start blocking more.

The Owls’ second straight short field led to a 3rd-and-5 pass from Stoner to a diving Rogge at the goalline for the score and a 20-0 lead. CC blocked Hondo’s extra point try.

For their third straight drive, the Javelinas picked up two more first downs after starting in a big hole at their own 8. Then, as the fourth quarter began, Mendoza passed to Sanchez, who weaved his way for 48 yards before fumbling at the 15, where Runnels recovered.

Following another Hondo punt, the Javelinas stayed almost exclusively in the air, taking nine plays to reach the endzone. The biggest play of the drive, other than the 16-yard scoring toss from Mendoza to Gustavo Jimenez, came after Matt Garcia, wrestled Sanchez to the ground for a loss on 3rd-and-long. The Owls, however, were penalized for a late hit away from the ball, giving CC a first down, setting up the score with 6:19 left, cutting the gap to 20-7.

After recovering an onside kick attempt, Hondo put together a methodical drive, driving to the 1-yard line. Along the way, a Keilman 19-yard TD run was erased by an illegal motion penalty. But once Hondo had gotten to the 1, a fumbled snap moved them back to the 3, and Keilman was stopped on fourth down.

Two plays later, however, Tristan Garza chased down Mendoza in the endzone, sacking him for a safety, giving Hondo a 22-7 lead with 2:22 left.

On the ensuing free kick, Keilman fielded the punt at the Hondo 40 and went straight down the middle to the endzone for a touchdown. The PAT was no good, keeping the score at 28-7.

“With the kick return, that safety was huge,” said Coach Rochat. “It was basically an eight-point safety.”

After Sanchez returned the kickoff to midfield, the Javelinas needed only two plays to get back to the endzone. Mendoza found Keenan Mata for a 22-yard TD strike with 1:28 left.

On the extra point, Martinez shot through the line again, blocking the kick. It bounced perfectly and he fielded it on the hop at the 15-yard line, returning it 85 yards for a two-point PAT return. It was the first time that a Hondo varsity player has ever accomplished that feat since the rule was added in the mid-1990s.

The Javelinas recovered the onside kick on the hop at the Hondo 49, and picked up one first down, but three straight pass breakups -- two at the line of scrimmage by Jacob Rangel and Brad West, and one in coverage by Martinez -- ended the drive.

“Crystal City played well and fought to the end,” said the Owls’ coach. “I’m very proud of our guys for getting a win in the playoffs. It’s huge for the program. We get another week of practice and get to go face a quality opponent in the next round.

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