Titans defense steps up in second half
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• Victoria East Titans vs. Calhoun Sandcrabs
• Nov. 1, 7 p.m.
• Memorial Stadium
• Series: Tied 1-1
• Last Year: Calhoun 53-7
BEEVILLE - The Victoria East Titans went into the locker room at Veterans Memorial Stadium facing a five-point deficit and with a defensive unit that needed to regroup.
Although Beeville was moving the ball methodically against the Titans, that didn't stop senior linebacker Albert Longoria from making a proclamation.
"Albert told us 'We got this. You all just go down and score for us,'" said sophomore quarterback Jonathan Ortega.
The Titans allowed just six points and had two key defensive stops to help East (3-5, 2-2) to a 40-30 District 30-4A win over the Trojans (2-5, 0-3).
Beeville kept the familiar offensive plan intact against East: Use a multitude of running backs to slowly move the ball into the end zone and wear out the opposition.
In the first half, the Trojans had 11 first downs and converted 6-of-8 third-down conversions.
Junior fullback Tristan Pelitire averaged more than four yards per carry and was on pace to break the 100-yard mark.
But, the East defense tightened up in the second half.
"Our defensive staff did an outstanding job at halftime of coming back out, preparing some things and changing some things," said East head coach Roland Gonzalez.
Beeville managed just 107 yards of total offense in the second half, compared to 221 in the first, gained only six first downs and converted only 1-of-5 attempts on third down.
View from the sideline
The Titans offense didn't do much in the second quarter because it wasn't given an opportunity.
The Trojans used their ball control offense along with a recovered onside kick to take a lead into halftime.
After beginning the quarter with possession of the ball, Beeville concluded a 12-play, 70-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Kremers to Jo Rey Garza 6:47 before halftime.
It took the Trojans 5:38 to run 11 plays for 31 yards and get Marcos Ulloa on the field for a successful 33-yard field goal.
Although East had the ball for only 46 seconds in the second quarter, Ortega gave them momentum with a 24-yard touchdown run before halftime.
Beeville had possession for 11:44 in the second quarter and ran 22 offensive plays to East's three.
Watch out for Whitley
Sophomore wide receiver Trent Whitley came into the night with only 65 receiving yards, but on Friday he burned Beeville twice.
On the second East drive of the game, Ortega found Whitley for a 69-yard touchdown pass that cut Beeville's lead to 14-13 in the first quarter.
On East's final possession of the first half, he hauled in a key 22-yard pass that got East into Beeville territory and help set up Ortega's touchdown run on the next play.
"We've been going through a lot of different stuff in practice, coming up with new plays and they've been working," Whitley said.
Point of no return
The Titans' special teams have come up with momentum changing plays on kickoffs this season, but on Friday the Trojans weren't going to give them a chance.
Of Beeville's five kickoffs, only three were returnable, but those were short kicks near the sideline that were either fair caught or didn't get returned for yardage.
This season, Deondric Lofton has a 85- and 90-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns while Ortega brought a kickoff back 85-yards for a score.
On the fringe
Heading into a bye week, the Titans are in a position to compete for a playoff spot, but a lot can change over the next three weeks.
After four district games, the Titans find themselves in a tie with Gregory-Portland for third place in district.
East is one game behind Calallen for second and one game ahead of Victoria West and Tuloso-Midway who are tied for fifth.
East holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over West, but not T-M or G-P.