By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
The San Benito Greyhounds didn’t exactly start the season with a bang.
KABOOM! was more like it.
After a 40-minute delay due to lightning in the area, the ’Hounds used big plays on special teams and a marvelous night from senior running back Gabriel Vasquez to pummel Edinburg 53-7 on Friday night at Bobby Morrow Stadium.
The Greyhounds (1-0) never broke a sweat as they used a surprise onside kick, blocked punt and interception to set up three scores before the Bobcats (0-1) knew what hit them. The right-left-right combination of punches was too much for the young visitors to handle as the boys in purple opened the Dan Gomez era with a rousing win. Ever the realist, Gomez was pleased with the win but knows his squad has work to do to get to where they want to be.
“The kids were ready to play tonight even with that rain stoppage,” Gomez said. “The kids were focused early, but we lost it there in the second half. We got some other guys some PT (playing time) and that’s important, but we expect our number twos to be as good as our ones, so we’ll come back to work tomorrow and get after it. We scored some points, so that’s good, but now we’ll move on to the next one.”
Although there was not much more than a slight drizzle and plenty of sunshine, lightning to the northeast prompted officials and administrators to delay the start of the contest by 30 minutes. Eventually, the teams were brought back out and kickoff was at approximately 8:20 p.m.
By 8:22, San Benito led 6-0. The ’Hounds used the surprise onside kick and subsequent recovery by Edward Alvarez to set the stage for a 67-yard touchdown from Vasquez as they paralyzed Edinburg in just 17 seconds. The extra point was missed.
Vasquez, one of the fastest players in the area, had his coming out party by racking up 154 yards and four touchdowns on just eight totes. Vasquez and many other starters played for just over a half and the senior rightfully gave plenty of credit to his offensive line and teammates for their efforts.
“It felt like a regular game for me,” Vasquez said. “I just went out there and played for the team. I saw all of the (holes) and they (offensive line) were doing their job and I thanked them for it and gave them all the glory because all of those good blocks.”
On Edinburg’s first possession, San Benito’s Ruben Reyes blocked a punt and Isaac Sanchez fell on it inside the Bobcats’ 10 yards line. Three plays later, Julio Pecina dove in from a yard away to make it a 12-0 advantage with still 9:14 to go. Then on the Bobcats’ first play, the Greyhounds’ Juan Hernandez recorded the first of two interceptions before Vasquez pushed the lead to 18-0 on a swift 16-yard scoring scamper.
Backup quarterback Efrain Borrego came on for the Bobcats on their third series and the junior was constantly harassed by a San Benito defense led by ends Pedro Coronado and Chris Padilla. The highlight of Borrego’s night came on a well-executed screen pass to Nathan Marez, who ran in for a 9-yard TD to close the gap to 18-7 with 10:21 left in the second.
Aside from that score, the long night for the Bobcats got a lot longer.
On a free play thanks to the Bobcats being offsides, wideout R.J. Atkinson hauled in a 43-yard scoring pass from Cristian Sierra and later the lead grew to 32-7 when Vasquez zipped 40 yards for his third TD with 7:33 left before intermission. Vasquez closed out his career night with a three-yard score with under three minutes before half.
“It does feel good to have this kind of game,” Vasquez said. “But this win says we’ve been working out butts off all summer and going hard all the time and not slacking off.”
More highlights came via J.R. Gaitan, who bobbled the opening kickoff of the second half, collected himself and then was off to the races for a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to deflate Edinburg further. Later in the fourth, Pecina completed the scoring with a touchdown run.
The Greyhounds will have a short week as they travel to take on 1-0 Weslaco East next Thursday night at Bobby Lackey Stadium.