HARLINGEN–Payback was sweet for the Weslaco Panthers as they avenged an early season defeat against the Harlingen Cardinals in the bi-district playoff game at Boggus Stadium, winning 3-0 in a defensive battle.
In the first match up, Harlingen won after the Panthers gave away the game on a bad hike late in the game. They also had another costly turnover that helped the Cardinals win 30-29.
Weslaco Head Coach Tony Villarreal said both teams improved defensively since that game in mid-September and he expected a tough game. He wasn’t lying.
Both teams were stout on defensive. Harlingen only allowed Weslaco to pass the 50 once on offense, while Weslaco only let the Cardinals pass the 50 once in the 2nd Half.
The Cardinals blew a few opportunities and had some costly penalties. Their place kicker missed four field goals, including one from 31 yards late in the first half. Coach Villarreal iced Giovanni Guillen with two timeouts and he missed the field goal to the right.
Harlingen had three turnovers,. including two interceptions and a fumble. The interceptions stopped two good drives for the Cardinals. The fumble cost them the game as a bad handoff led to the miscue and the Panthers recovered on the Cards’ 15 yard line in the middle of the third quarter.
Weslaco went three and out and couldn’t make a first down. Kicker Edward Limas lined up for a 25 yard goal and calmly hit it, putting the Panthers up for good.
After a missed field goal by Harlingen in the 4th quarter, Weslaco held on to the ball for a long drive that lasted more than six minutes. On 4th down inside the Cardinals 3o yard line, Felix Reyna intercepted a pass and nearly returned it to for a pick six for Harlingen as he was tackled at the 27 yard line of the Panthers.
Again, the Cardinals shot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty and the Panther defense tackled Harlingen QB Michael Allen Gonzalez for an 8 yard loss. Harlingen tried a 57 yard field goal that came up short.
Weslaco’s defense came up big with stand after stand throughout the game. They allowed 133 yards of total offense. It was no surprise for Villarreal who said the defense has been a staple for their team throughout the year.
Harlingen Coach Manny Gomez gave credit to Weslaco for winning the game. He was playing his fourth quarterback and saw some bright spots from his younger players. He knows this experience will help the Cardinals next year.
Harlingen ends the year 6-5 and were one of four teams that shared the 6A-District 32 Championship, while Weslaco (7-4) moves onto the Area Round where they will play Laredo United. United beat La Joya, 62-7 Friday night. The game will be played in Alamo Stadium in San Antonio next Saturday.
LOS FRESNOS VS. EDINBURG NORTH–The Falcons also won easily over Edinburg North in a rematch of a Week 1 game that was won by Cougars on a last minute field goal. Los Fresnos played tough defense, winning the game 42-7. They will play Del Rio who upset McAllen Memorial Friday.
RIVERA VS. PSJA NORTH–Rivera is one of the hottest teams in the Rio Grande Valley, but they still had to use a late game heroics to win its six game in a row, 49-42 against PSJA North. They jumped out to an early 21-7 lead. PSJA North didn’t give up and came battling back to take a 42-41 lead with 1:16 left in the game. Rivera’s QB Danny Elizondo threw four touchdowns including the game winner to Oggy Martinez with :40 left in the game. Rivera will play McAllen in the Area Round.
SHARYLAND VS EDCOUCH-ELSA–Sharyland shut out Edcouch-Elsa 29-0 and used a tough defense to keep La Maquina out of the end zone. QB Lance Madden threw two touchdowns to WR Seth Carter. The Rattlers have won seven games in a row since losing to Laredo Alexander. They also won one of the toughest districts in the RGV with an undefeated district record. After playing one of the proud teams in Edcouch-Elsa, Sharyland now moves on to play one of the best Coastal Bend teams in Calallen. The game will be next Friday at Texas A&M Kingsville.
ROMA VS. MERCEDES–The Mercedes Tigers were riding a nine game winning streak since an opening season loss and were cruising 21-7 over Roma at Half. The Gladiators playing in their first ever playoff game in school history made some adjustments and just wanted the game more than Mercedes. They stormed back to tie the game at 21 and push it into overtime. Roma won in OT, 28-21. They will play the winner of Medina Valley and Gregory-Portland who play Saturday in San Antonio.
PORT ISABEL VS. SINTON–Port Isabel and Sinton renewed its rivalry in the playoffs at Texas A&M Kingsville Friday that was dominated by Pirates. PI beat Sinton two years ago, but not this year. Sinton beat its third Valley team easily, 52-22. The Tarpons made it to the Regional Finals in 2012 and the Region Semi-Finals last year. It’s their first Bi-District loss since Orange Grove beat Port Isabel in 2011.
WESLACO EAST 42 SAN BENITO 14
MCALLEN 18 LAREDO ALEXANDER 14 (Thursday)
MISSION VETERANS 17 DONNA 14
GONZALES 41 LA FERIA 13
LA VERNIA 60 GRULLA 20 (Thursday)
CUERO 55 RIO HONDO 14
YOAKUM 44 RAYMONDVILLE 27
HALLETSVILLE 44 LYFORD 6
GOLIAD 61 SANTA ROSA 7
VELA VS. PSJA (Saturday)
PALMVIEW VS. JOHNSON (Saturday)
Manuel De La Rosa works for High School Sports Magazine and covers football teams in Cameron and Willacy County. If you want to see his Twitter feed, go to mannydelarosa68 or Manuel De La Rosa on Facebook and Instagram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org