San Marcos spoils Victoria East's home opener
As they left the field, the improvement made over the past six days likely meant little to the Victoria East football team.
After a humbling loss at Gonzales in zero week, the Titans (0-2) wanted to show they could execute on offense and special teams. They did that, but it wasn't enough Thursday night. East's opponents also amended previous miscues.
San Marcos (1-1) used a physical rushing attack and turnover-free football to spoil the Titans' home opener, 30-20.
For the second time this season, the Rattlers topped 300 yards rushing. Thursday, they ran for 348 yards, averaging 7.2 yards each time they ran the football.
"We definitely got better from our first game to our second game," said East football coach Roland Gonzalez. "We were able to start clicking on offense a little bit and we had some good things happen for us. Special teams did an outstanding job. We just have to go back, review film, look at personnel and see where we are at."
Entering the contest, it was the defense that Gonzalez and his coaches said was the Titans strength. They wanted to improve their execution on offense and special teams.
Senior quarterback Mark Cavazos had 185 total yards and a touchdown pass and an interception. In all, the Titans accounted for 247 yards offensively - 143 passing, 104 rushing.
Deondrick Lofton caught four passes for 74 yards. However, his biggest contribution was on special teams. He took a reverse from Jonathan Ortega 85 yards for a touchdown to start the second half.
Lofton's first touchdown of the game cut the deficit to 17-14.
Though, the Titans, and their fans, were on their feet, the relentless Rattlers never quit.
East forced a three-and-out on San Marcos' first series of the second half. Ortega returned the ensuring punt 42 yards largely because the line-drive kick opened up running lanes for the speedy sophomore.
The Titans had momentum, and the football, at the San Marcos 18 yard line, following Ortega's return. But, East turned the ball over on downs after a Cavazos pass hit a receiver in the hands, but fell harmlessly to the turf.
That was the closest the Titans came to taking the lead.
San Marcos ended the third quarter with a 56-yard march toward the end zone. Jonoah Fabian scored his second touchdown of the night with a leg-churning 9-yard run with four seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Fabian ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His 52 yard catch from Zack Sterling late in the first half set up his first score. Fabian's first touchdown, with 26 seconds left in the second quarter, allowed San Marcos to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.
"He kind of started a little slow, but he kept in the game," said San Marcos head coach Mark Soto said about Fabian. "We told him 'Look, stop dancing and run' and that's exactly what he did.
The win was the Rattlers first under Soto. It also snapped an 18-game road losing streak that dated back to Sept. 12, 2008. Afterward, one San Marcos assistant took a picture of the scoreboard, a token of the monumental victory the Rattlers pulled off at Memorial Stadium.
Soto had many reasons to smile, one of which was because he turned "39 again" Thursday.
"I'm proud of our kids and the way they fought. They came in well-prepared. The coaches got them prepared well. They worked extra hard, they knew they made some mistakes and kind of beat themselves last week. For them to come in, make those (things) right, it's pretty special for us."
While the Rattlers were giving high-fives to the traveling fans, the Titans again walked off the field dejected.
"They were able to move the ball and sustain drives," Gonzalez said. "We, at times, sputtered maintaining drives. We had some big plays and scored on some big plays. Again, we're still working on getting better."