On a windy night that made the forward pass an iffy option, they went to the ground to set the tone, and later got several key defensive plays to get on a roll and stay there.
The semi-pro Edinburg Landsharks improved to 5-1 with a 34-0 trouncing of the visiting Texas Mavericks Friday night at Barrientes Middle School, marking their second win this season over the Mavs (3-3), from San Antonio.
On their first possession, the Sharks drove 98 yards in 18 plays, with Elias Reyes and Ismael Sepulveda, a couple of former P-SJ-A Bears, sharing the ground duties behind a hard-working offensive line. Though the Mavs boast size and speed on defense, they were no match for the march, and when Reyes pounded in from the 2 at 3:40, it was 7-0, Sharks.
As fine as the line was, the team’s defense was even better, holding the Mavs to 49 total yards Friday, including just 7 on 26 rushing attempts. The new-look D, minus long-time stars Bernie Luna, Mike Martinez, and Frank Fuentes this year, is smaller than previous units but perhaps quicker to the point of attack. Anchored up front by Econ Jag ex Jaime Hinojosa, the squad dominated the opponent for 60 minutes.
Hinojosa sacked quarterback Jonathan Batson (Texas A&M ex) for a 12-yard loss to end the Mavs’ second possession, as he broke through and outquicked the fast-footed college football veteran to sling him down like a sack of potatoes.
And it helped matters for Edinburg that Texas had consistent problems with the Shotgun formation. After QB Renato Nunez threw the first of his two first-half interceptions, Edinburg got a defensive TD when a snap sailed past Batson from the Texas 12 and ancient warrior Rocky Zamora corralled the loose ball in the end zone at 11:09 of the second.
It looked like a 14-point lead would be it for the half until the last play of the second period, when rangy star receiver Shedric Dallas outleapt his man in the end zone for a 15-yard TD pass. Though Nunez struggled with the gusty conditions, going 9 of 23 for 122 yards, he threw a couple of perfect balls. The one to Dallas could not have been better to the right corner of the end zone.
“I may be getting older,” cracked the personable Dallas, himself a college ex. “But I can still beat just about everyone in this league.”
For the game, the Landsharks gained 173 yards on the ground with the muscular Reyes getting 61 and the change-of-pace darter Sepulveda adding 59. With 147 passing yards, the Sharks compiled 320 total with 21 first downs.
The defensive star was former running back Nick Carpenter, who made 10 tackles and an interception from his new linebacker spot. The strong-legged Carpenter said that though he has a lot to learn on defense, he is enjoying the change of scenery.
Down 21-0, the Mavs gambled early in the third by going for it on 4th-and-11 from their own 6, but a pass went incomplete a down after Carpenter had made a key stop on third.
From there, Reyes busted in on the first play for a 27-0 advantage at 10:41. Carpenter snagged his INT on the next Texas snap but the Sharks lost a fumble at the enemy 3 to thwart a scoring chance.
They got it back after Carpenter and Steve Tanguma burst through for a sack; long-time Edinburg DB Mike Foltin picked off a ball on the next play and Reyes scored soon after from the 11 at 3:32, making the count 34-0.
Next week the Sharks are off to Corpus Christi for a TUFL tussle with the Bulldogs, and then after a bye week the big game of the year happens May 1. That’s when the San Antonio Warriors, who handed Edinburg its only loss of the 2010 campaign, come to Cats Stadium for the rematch.