They had to battle until the final whistle, but the Brownsville Porter Cowboys got their season started with a 27-20 nail-biting win over Donna High on Thursday at Sams Memorial Stadium.
Porter drove down inside the Redskins’ 5-yard line with three minutes on the clock and a chance to put the game away, but a fumbled snap was recovered by the Redskins. Donna High’s offense, powered by the legs of senior running back Adan Reyes, got down to the 1-yard line with 37 seconds remaining.
The Cowboys’ defense buckled down and made the stop, creating a wall that moved the Redskins back on consecutive plays before forcing a rushed pass on fourth down that fell incomplete as their home crowd cheered.
“(I saw) a lot of heart. It’s a great way to start the season,” Porter coach Carlos Uresti said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. Credit to Donna for coming out and playing hard. They got a new staff over there, and they did a great job. My hat’s off to our defense. They had two big stops tonight inside the 5-yard line, and without those stops we don’t win this game, so hat’s off to our defense and our defensive coordinator (Raul Gomez).”
Donna High’s offense couldn’t get anything going in the first quarter. The Redskins fumbled on their opening drive and punted on the next two. Porter senior defensive back Gabriel Gonzalez recovered the fumble, and the Cowboys cashed in the turnover for their first score of the season shortly after.
Senior quarterback Kevin Garcia connected with sophomore receiver Gunnar Williams on his first pass for a 20-yard gain after some good runs from senior running back Brian Franco. Garcia then scored on a 2-yard rush, and senior kicker Isaac Acevedo’s PAT was successful to give Porter a 7-0 lead.
Donna High found a rhythm in the second quarter, largely behind the play of Reyes. He scored on a 35-yard run on the first play of a Redskins drive, and a successful PAT by senior kicker Alex Garcia tied the game.
Porter quickly answered with a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Garcia, but he pulled the hold on the PAT and his pressured pass went incomplete. Garcia hit senior receivers Norberto Cordova and Brandon Reta for big gains to set up the score.
Reyes carried the Redskins from their own 23-yard-line down to Porter’s 25 with his powerful running style. Donna High turned to the pass after a roughing the passer penalty against Porter put the Redskins in the red zone, but solid defense by senior defensive back Eric Garcia forced a 32-yard field goal attempt that was missed.
Donna High converted on fourth-and-15 as senior quarterback Luis Frias found junior defensive back Francisco Contreras for a 34-yard gain to set up another Redskins score. Frias delivered a good pass just out of the defender’s reach for a 5-yard touchdown reception by Reyes to give the Redskins a 14-13 lead just before halftime.
The Cowboys came out hot during the third quarter to open up a two-score lead with help from a Redskins turnover. Senior running back Brian Franco delivered a good block to aid a big Garcia run and rushed for a 21-yard gain himself to set up another opening drive score, capped by an 11-yard rushing touchdown from Garcia.
Porter senior defensive back Christopher Reyes forced a fumble on a kickoff return that was recovered by senior Nicholas Garza on the Redskins’ 5-yard line. Garcia notched his fourth touchdown with a 4-yard rush to make it 27-14 with 7:24 remaining in the third.
“I think we played fine, but I think we have a long way to go offensively,” Uresti said. “Everybody’s going to key on Kevin, there’s no surprise about it. The kid’s been starting for me for four years so we expect that, but he still had a great game. We’re going to get better and continue to work, and we’ll be just fine. A lot of polishing up on the offensive line, we had four or five false starts and we can’t have that.”
Junior defensive back Isai Hernandez intercepted Frias on Donna High’s following drive to give the Cowboys more momentum heading to the final quarter. But Porter penalties stalled the drive and gave the Redskins a short field that set up their next score. Reyes broke tackles for a 16-yard rushing touchdown to make it a one-possession game with 9:16 remaining.
The Cowboys ate up a lot of clock on the ensuing drive with Garcia and Franco running well behind the line, but the fumbled snap set up the tense final three minutes. Donna High’s Reyes and Frias made big plays to almost mount a comeback, but an inspired defensive effort kept the Redskins from spoiling Porter’s home opener.
“Anybody could’ve checked it in when we were down. (Porter has) a good offense and a good team, senior ball club with a great quarterback. Our guys fought, but the ball didn’t bounce our way there at the end,” Donna High coach Mike Gonzales said. “It’s a tough experience, but it’s a learning one and we’re just going to get better from here. (Adan Reyes) is phenomenal. He’s all heart. He’s little, about (5 feet, 5 inches tall) or so, but he runs hard and tough. Adan is our workhorse, obviously, and he’s going to have a great year and we just have to keep going.”