East rebounds to beat Beeville
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BEEVILLE - The Victoria East Titans have been rallying around junior safety Matt Dorsett all season as he battles Ewing's Sarcoma.
On Friday, it was another fallen gridiron brother that gave East some motivation.
After junior cornerback Quinton Pena was taken off the field on a stretcher and taken to CHRISTUS Spohn hospital in Beeville, the Titans (3-5, 2-2)scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes to beat the Beeville Trojans (2-5, 0-3) 40-30 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
"You want to play for anybody, but we were playing for him and Dorsett tonight," said senior defensive end Jace Mitchell.
Sophomore quarterback Jonathan Ortega threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 121 yards and three more scores on the ground to help East win its second straight District 30-4A game.
After the game both East head coach Roland Gonzalez and Victoria school trainer Leigh Muil declined comment on Pena's condition.
"That's scary to see a teammate go down like that, it's real scary," East receiver Deondric Lofton said. "We used that as a rallying point."
Ortega ran in for a 10-yard touchdown and ren on the ensuing two-point conversion to put the Titans ahead 27-24 with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter.
After the two point conversion, Pena collapsed on the Titans sideline. Members of the East coaching and training staff gathered around Pena while the team took a knee around a member of the coaching staff at the 25-yard line.
"I didn't even see what happened, but after I saw that he passed out, we went over there and had a prayer and we knew that we were going to play for him," Ortega said. "Him and Dorsett."
Paramedics took a stretcher to the sideline and Pena was taken across the field to the ambulance.
Ortega completed 9-of-14 passes, two each to Trent Whitley, Cameron WIlliams and Lofton.
After averaging less than 20 points in its first six games of the season, the Titans offense has broken out and scored at least 40 points in the last two weeks. Both have been district wins.
"You can say it's a new mentality, but I think it's the changes that we've made and everyone's just stepped up," Lofton said.
Through the first 40 minutes of play neither team distanced itself from the other. After Beeville senior halfback Roger Salazar II scored on a 2-yard run to put the Trojans ahead 30-27, the Titans were confident they would answer.
"That was our time for sure because we knew we could come back and win thin game," Lofton said.
East, especially Ortega, stepped up in the moment.
On first and goal from the Beeville 10, Ortega connected with Mark Cavazos for a touchdown that put East up 34-30 after Cavazos' extra point.
"Jonathan did a nice job, but ultimately it was a team effort," Gonzalez said.
From there the East defense stepped up.
Although the unit allowed more than 320 yards of offense and Beeville never punted, the Titans got a four-and-out on the ensuing drive.
"We absolutely knew we had to step up," Mitchell said. "We had to stop them and get our offense the ball so we can take the lead and win the game."
The Titans went on a five-play, 25-yard scoring drive capped by Ortega's third rushing touchdown to go ahead by 10 points withg 1:12 remaining.
Sophomore linebacker Stephon Shelton interceped Beeville quarterback Cameron Kremers on the ensuing Beeville drive to clinch the game.
"I beleived in my defense, I knew they were going to make a big stop like they did," Ortega said.
Whitley led the Titans in receiving with 100 yards on two catches.
Kremers led the Trojans completing 7-of-16 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tristan Pelitire paced the Trojans ground game with 86 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown.