By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
BROWNSVILLE — 1-0.
That’s all that matters to the San Benito Greyhounds after earning their first district win.
And they looked mighty fine doing it.
The ’Hounds put up nearly 600 yards offensively and capitalized on Hanna miscues as they downed the Golden Eagles 39-14 in the 32-6A district opener on Saturday night at Sams Stadium.
San Benito (2-2 overall, 1-0 district) broke a two-game mini losing skid, but more importantly captured the league opener, which was critical heading into next week’s huge home matchup against Los Fresnos.
“Everybody wants to start off on that right foot and the kids played well tonight,” Hounds head coach Dan Gomez said. “We started and we finished. We didn’t play a half a game and that was important.”
Coming off a bye week, the ’Hounds did a lot of things well, but there’s also some tweaking to be done in time for the Falcons, Gomez said. The winner of the showdown at Bobby Morrow Stadium will put one of the teams in the driver’s seat in district.
“The things we did wrong tonight we’ve gotta do ‘em right (vs. Los Fresnos),” he said. “We take a lot of pride with details in our program and there were some details that weren’t right tonight, so we’re gonna hit it up tomorrow on film and get it worked out.”
On a misty night at Sams, San Benito jumped ahead on the game’s opening drive when Armando Medrano took a screen pass and sprinted 56 yards up the right hash. A two-point run failed with 10:29 in the first quarter.
Then after a 15-play Hanna drive resulted in a blocked field goal, ’Hounds QB Cristian Sierra (16-28-1, 294 yards, 2 TDs passing) connected with a wide open Gabriel Vasquez over the middle for a 46-yard pitch and catch. Vasquez ran in the 2-pointer, making it 14-0 San Benito with 2:04 still in the opening stanza.
The Eagles punted once again and Vasquez made them pay when he took a handoff and zipped 80 yards virtually untouched for another score early in the second quarter and a 20-0 advantage. After a two-week rest, Vasquez showed good burst and turned in 208 yards of total offense (125 rushing, 83 receiving) as he topped the century-rushing mark for the fourth straight game.
Hanna, playing in its first game in 22 days, looked the entire bit rusty as it repeatedly shot itself in the foot with penalties, accumulating 14 for 105 yards. Aside from a few big runs, they could not get any rhythm going offensively while their defense gave up the whopping total and had difficulties keeping up with San Benito skill players.
Meanwhile, San Benito’s defense forced a safety on Hanna’s next possession, making it 22-0, and then Vasquez’s third score of the night, a three-yarder, extended the lead to 30-0 after Sierra’s conversion run with 9:05 on the second quarter clock.
The Eagles finally got on the board when Jaime Gonzalez dove in from a yard away with 4:42 remaining before half and the scored stayed 30-7 San Benito at intermission.
For San Benito, Gomez will certainly point to some points left out on the field including a missed field goal, a botched snap on another three-point try and three costly turnovers, preventing the offensive output from being even greater.
Later, Randall Barrera broke loose for a 62-yard score for the Eagles midway through the third quarter for their final highlight of the night to close it to a two-score game with 6:17 left.
But Sierra slammed the door shut on the Eagles with a three-yard score early in the fourth quarter and another bad Hanna snap resulted in a safety for the final 39-14 margin with 11:13 left in the game.
GAME NOTES: This was San Benito’s first visit to Sams Stadium since a 52-0 win over Hanna in the 2011 regular season finale…The ’Hounds’ 595 total yards were a season high…They were without speedster J.R. Gaitan, who missed the game with an unspecified injury…Sierra had 86 yards rushing while backup Edward Alvarez chipped in 83 yards on the ground… Leading pass-catchers were Medrano (4 catches, 81 yards), Victor Gaitan (3-37)… This was the second straight season San Benito won its district opener after last year’s 15-10 win over McAllen Memorial in 31-5A.