Victoria East’s defense didn’t let a chance at a much-needed District 15-5A, Division I win get away.

East punter Grantt Biles pinned Flour Bluff on the half-yard line.

Defensive lineman Xzaebrin Jones saw an opening and pressured Flour Bluff quarterback Nash Villegas into an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety.

The two points proved crucial for East, which upset the previously undefeated Hornets 30-28 Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

“Whenever we made that play over there, I was thinking, ‘Man, come on, we got this,’” Jones said. “’We all got to put in effort and we’ve all go to get in and go.’ And we all did. We put in effort and we gave it our all and we got it.”

One week removed from a 40-point loss at Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, the Titans held off a Hornets offense averaging over 40 points a game.

East improved to 3-2 and 2-1 in district as it played the first of three consecutive games at Memorial Stadium.

The Titans knew Flour Bluff’s (4-1, 2-1) offensive potential after its 66-13 thrashing of Victoria West on Sept. 10.

East came into the game with head coach Roland Gonzalez and offensive coordinator Jeff Hurta out for undisclosed reasons.

The Titans were also missing starting wide receiver/safety Matthew Jackson, who suffered a broken collarbone last week.

Defensive coordinator Doug Kent served as the acting head coach.

Kent gave credit to the entire staff and heaped praise on the defense.

“It’s exciting to have the kids execute and perform and and get around those big guys,” Kent said. “I mean they’re huge upfront. And for our guys to know that they can play with anybody, it’s a good confidence booster for us for the rest of the year.”

East’s defense forced two turnovers on downs, three punts and linebacker Trent Zappe recovered a fumble on Flour Bluff’s opening drive of the game.

Every stop was crucial as the Hornets matched the Titans point for point early on.

East opened the scoring with Ja Carrien Giles’ 9-yard run in the second quarter and would lead 21-14 at halftime, but Villegas carried the Hornets offense, scoring all four rushing touchdowns and putting up 286 yards of total offense.

“I believe (last week) was a wakeup call for us,” said wide receiver TJ Vargas. “Monday came, we practiced and worked hard. We put the work in and we came out and showed out.”

Giles had 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Jadon Williams rushed for 198 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown.

Williams relied mostly on his legs after struggling in the passing game against Veterans Memorial. But Williams threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Vargas to break a 21-21 tie in the fourth quarter.

“Offense didn’t really do what defense was doing,” Williams said. “Defense held their own against a team averaging 44 points a game. Offense put up some points but defense wins championships in these types of games.”

East never trailed, but had 13 penalties that stalled a number of drives.

Villegas scored his fourth rushing touchdown with 25 seconds left in the game, but the Hornets couldn’t come up with the onside kick.

East will now turn its attention to next week’s game against Victoria West.

”We came out in practice and we knew this team was going to be bigger, we knew this team was going to be fast,” Williams said. “We knew this team was going to be physical, but I don’t think they had as much heart as us tonight.”

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Sports Reporter

Peter is a Sports Reporter whose feature writing has been recognize by the APSE. A Houston native, Peter wrote for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and freelanced for the Houston Chronicle and Austin-American Statesman before coming to Victoria.

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