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Titans make most of home opener

By jhornberg
Aug. 28, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.

The sidelines were buzzing with energy as the Victoria East Titan coaches cheer on players after another successful defensive turnover against Harlingen South.FRANK TILLEY/FTILLEY@VICAD.COM

Victoria East76

Harligen South35

Ervin Yates was a one-man wrecking crew, and nothing was going to stand in his path.

Especially not the Harlingen South defense.

Despite facing an opponent that didn't win a game last season, the Titans were picked to lose to Class 5A Harlingen South.

It was motivation for the team, Yates said.

"They were picked to win, so we had to come out here and make a statement," said the senior quarterback.

Three players, including Yates, had more than 100 yards rushing in Victoria East's 76-35 drubbing of Harlingen South on Friday night, a loud statement to the rest of their opponents.

Central to the offense was Yates, who aside from running for three touchdowns was 10-for-14 passing with a touchdown.

"The line was opening up some big holes, the receivers were catching the ball," he said. "Just too many threats, they didn't know what to do."

All told, he had 296 yards of total offense for the Titans, and that's without playing the fourth quarter or the last portion of the third.

He was also mindful of what this meant in relation to Memorial too.

"We broke a record, high score at Memorial was 69 (points in one game)," Yates said.

Titans coach Mickey Finley had a more sober opinion of what East's home opener meant.

"It's really not a statement, we're just trying to get better," he said. "The team that gets better every week is the team that's going to play for a long time. We're just trying not to get overconfident."

But it was big night for Yates and the offense, which accumulated 602 total yards of offense. Yates was playing his first game for East and as a quarterback after transferring from Edna.

Johnathan Garner and Roderick Warren also had big games out of the backfield, Warren getting 112 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Garner with 102 yards.

Garner also had an early interception for a touchdown.

"Everybody was just doing their assignment, we focused on that all week in practice," the running back and said. "I knew we were capable of doing this, all we had to do was execute and do stuff right."

"We watched film on them a lot this week, and we went over the plays and recognized the plays by how they were lining up."

It was apparent early on this was East's game to lose. Victoria East scored 34 points in a wacky first quarter that included four turnovers, three by Harlingen South in the first five minutes.

Harlingen South's quarterback Bryan Avila was intercepted on two of his first three passes, both being returned for touchdowns.

That doesn't mean the defense was perfect.

"The pace that they were playing, we couldn't duplicate," he said. "That was the thing that hurting our defense, we couldn't get the calls in before they'd get their play run.

"We could relax a little on defense because we felt like we could score every time we got the ball except for that one time we fumbled."

In general, the Titans' defense kept the Hawks spread offense in check, holding Avila to 13-31 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Where they struggled wa against the running game. Harlingen South amassed 230 yards of rushing, led by 89 yards from running back John Druley. Avila also added 61 yards and a touchdown while running the ball.

Finley said the offensive line deserves a lot of the credit for the running game's success.

"Any time you see some guys running like that, you know there's some linemen doing some good work," Finley said. "And they did, our linemen did a heck of job protecting our quarterback when he was throwing the football, and then they were opening up some huge holes for the running backs.

"Even though our backs were shiny, you can't forget about those big boys up front, because they were making for those holes up there."

Garner said winning this game in the way they carried significant weight for him and his teammates.

"It means we go down in history, we're going to remember this for the rest of our lives," he said. "They were expected to beat us by four points. We just came out there and were the better team."

Finley said it was hard to place this game in his long career.

"It's hard to start ranking them," said Finley, who has been coaching for 33 years. "I'm getting so old now, I can't remember some of them. It was a lot of fun, it was the first time I've gotten to do that, and at my age you don't get many first."

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