By HOMAR HERNANDEZ
Special to the NEWS
HARLINGEN—The San Benito Greyhounds faced the Cardinals in the annual Battle of the Arroyo this past Friday at Boggus Stadium in what proved to be one of the most memorable games in BOTA history.
This year’s edition was quite different as there was limited seating due to COVID-19, but that did not stop both teams from delivering an exhilarating game. This year marked the first time ever that Battle of the Arroyo was settled in overtime.
The Cardinals received the ball in the first quarter to open the game, although the Cardinals offense had some good runs, they were not able to post any points in their opening drive.
The Greyhounds were looking to come out on their first drive and deliver the first punch of the night but were unsuccessful as the Cardinal defense was quick to stop the Greyhounds.
After a huge defensive stop, the Greyhounds were back on the field, this time they were able to string a couple of good plays together. Quarterback Elijah Hernandez found Justyn Martinez for a 30-yard touchdown, putting the Greyhounds on top 7-0, in the first quarter.
The Cardinals were swift to answer when their quarterback found their wide receiver down at the 10-yard line for a huge gain over the air. In the following play, the ’Cards’ QB kept the ball for a 10-yard rush for six points and Cardinals were quick to tie the game at seven in the first quarter.
The Greyhound offense took the field in the start of the second quarter, but were forced to punt as the Cardinal defense stopped them in their attempt to break the tie. However, two plays into the Cardinals drive, San Benito’s defense forced a fumble which was recovered by the Greyhounds causing the Cardinals to turn the ball over.
Hernandez oversaw the Greyhound offense after the big turn over and was able to connect with Martinez, Jermaine Corbin and even ran the ball to march the Greyhounds into the red zone. It was at the red zone where Hernandez rushed the ball for 10 yards to score for the Greyhounds. After the field goal was converted, the Greyhounds led the game, 14-7, mid-way through the second quarter.
The tension was high as the second quarter came to an end. Both defenses were hot and came up with multiple stops. The Cardinals had the ball with 40 seconds remaining, and their QB was able to connect with the wide receiver, Tristan Vasquez who was wide open in the secondary for a touchdown. The game was once again tied, 14-14, to conclude the first half of play.
In the second half, the Greyhounds received the ball to kick off the second half of The Battle of the Arroyo. The Greyhounds were stopped by the Cardinal defense, which didn’t allow them to put up any points on the opening second half.
The Cardinals made their way into the red zone halfway through the second half, but a big defensive stop forced the Cardinals to go for a field goal. The field goal was good and put the Cardinals in the lead for the first time in the game. The score was 17-14, with seven minutes remaining.
The Cardinals were able to shut down the Greyhounds on their following drive. The Greyhound defense came onto the field to try and prevent the lead from extending when John Castro intercepted the ball and took it to the endzone. The excitement was short lived as the touchdown was called back for a personal foul.
The Greyhounds took the field after the disallowed touchdown to try to gain momentum and put the San Benito back into the game. The Cardinals were able to stop the Greyhounds from turning the interception into six points.
The fourth quarter started with the Greyhounds’ special team ready to punt it over to the Cardinals. However, the center sent a high snap over the punters head and the ball was recovered in the endzone by the Cardinals to convert the Greyhound mistake into six points. The Cardinals now put themselves up 24-14, to kick off the fourth quarter.
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