SAN ANTONIO – Ysidro Mascorro was not happy at halftime of Refugio’s Class 2A, Division I area playoff game against Thorndale.
But Mascorro was also determined to persevere and so were his teammates.
“We all said in there, ‘We’re not losing this game. We’re not losing,”’ Mascorro recalled. “We came out and outscored them the whole half, and they didn’t score at all.”
The Bobcats used a strong second half to break open a tie game and claim a 49-20 win over the Bulldogs on Thursday night at Heroes Stadium.
Refugio improved to 12-0 and moved into the regional round against the winner of Friday night’s Shiner-Hearne game.
The regional game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 at Converse Judson’s Rutledge Stadium.
“We came in with the wrong mindset to start off with,” Mascorro said. “We came in thinking about Shiner and not with the right mind. We needed to come in thinking about the team we played.”
Thorndale (9-3) bludgeoned Refugio’s defense out of its slot-T in the first two quarters.
The Bulldogs rushed for 194 yards and scored on runs of 26, 7 and 3 yards by Kolt Cauble.
“We’ve got to be ready to play,” said Refugio coach Jason Herring. “We’ve got elite talent compared to people in our district. It’s been easy, and the game’s been slow.
“When you’re down to 32 in the playoffs, everybody can stinking play,” he continued. “I was worried all week. I told my coaches that I was scared to death because the speed and physicality is going to be so different from what we saw after Week 5.”
Refugio coach Jason Herring on the win over Thorndale. pic.twitter.com/mwdgKbNJSM— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) November 22, 2019
The Bobcats went to halftime tied at 20 thanks to a 55-yard touchdown pass from Austin Ochoa to Jordan Kelley, and touchdown runs of 26 and 5 yards by Xavien Wills.
But Refugio was stopped on downs on its first possession, and Ochoa was intercepted on its third possession.
“It was all compounded,” Herring said. “They were playing our butts off, and they were mashing us. I’m not going to lie to you; it was scary there for a while. I knew if we could get a stop – I didn’t think they could stop us, but I didn’t know if we could stop them. My hat’s off to coach (Eli) Boxell and his staff and the kids. The defense won this game for us in the second half.”
Thorndale’s Branson McCoy ran 16 yards on the first play of the third quarter, but the Bulldogs did not make another first down until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter.
Herring credited the play of Dillon Bailey and Elias Morris on the defensive line and linebackers Mascorro and Wills.
“Our games haven’t been that speed for a while,” Wills said. “We came back stronger. We knew what we needed to do. We knew we didn’t want to go home. We just did our job.”
Refugio took the lead for good on its first possession of the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Mascorro.
The touchdown came the play after Antwaan Gross caught a 24-yard pass from Ochoa, who threw for 305 yards.
“We went in there and went over what we were doing wrong,” Wills said. “We just came back stronger. We know we should have done better. We know we should have done better. It’s not going to pass.”
The Bobcats added to their lead on an 11-yard run by Naaji Gadsden and a 1-yard run by Ochoa before Gadsden tacked on a 62-yard touchdown run.
“At halftime, Coach talked to us,” said Gadsden, who had 13 carries for 156 yards. “We knew we couldn’t go out there like that. We had to attack first. In the second half, we got it in gear and just kept going.”
Refugio’s Naaji Gadsden scored 2 TDs in a win over Thorndale. pic.twitter.com/Jd4ZpodXVH— Mike Forman (@mikeforman21) November 22, 2019
The Bobcats can now turn their attention to Shiner or Hearne, but with a valuable lesson learned.
“It’s like coach said, after the first round: It’s a gauntlet,” Mascorro said. “All these game are going to be gauntlets. The winner is going to be tested.”
“I think that woke them up,” Herring agreed. “You don’t have to worry about a slow start in the next round.”