SAN ANTONIO – In order for the San Marcos Rattlers to get past the SA Harlandale Indians and into the area round for the first time since 2006-07, they’d have to outscore a potent offense with as varied an offensive attack as they had, and get past one of the more highly-touted defenses in the area.

They did just that on Friday night at Harlandale Memorial Stadium, outlasting Harlandale’s late surge for a 21-18 win in front of a large fanbase that made the trek to the Alamo City and likely matched the home crowd, taking a play from the Indians’ book.

“It makes it sweeter because they need this experience. We played well on the road all year long,” Rattlers head coach Mark Soto said. “We haven’t always come out with the win, but we’re learning lessons the whole time so this is good for us and it’ll propel us into the playoffs.”


Harlandale started the game in great field position as standout sophomore wide receiver Rene Palomino returned the kickoff to the San Marcos 42.

Harlandale had two false starts on the first drive, but the drive that started with Palomino, ended with Palomino as senior quarterback Jacob Delgado found the sophomore in the endzone for a 19-yard touchdown.

Just under four minutes later, junior running back Cavion Garner found paydirt on a 64-yard drive that also featured tight end Victor Martinez and receiver Cross Cuevas. Harlandale’s defense nearly had the Rattlers stopped, but coach Mark Soto elected to go for it on a fourth and three that ended with Carl Ahrens finding Cuevas for a five yard pass.

SM vs Harlandale 291After Harlandale took the next kickoff to the 39 yard line, Indians coach Isaac Martinez called a mix of pass and run plays for Noah Avina and Vincent Hernandez. But it was Zach Quintanilla coming in and catching a 32-yard strike from Delgado to extend the drive after two more false starts. But San Marcos was able to limit Harlandale to just three points on a Brandon Rodriguez field goal after Harlandale marched all the way down to the red zone.

Aside from 20 yard and a four yard passes from Ahrens to Martinez, the Harlandale defense got a heavy dosage of Garner on the Rattlers’ second offensive possession. The junior running back put the exclamation point on the drive with a two yard run into the end zone, spinning past and eluding several defenders.

Just before halftime, San Marcos would get on the scoreboard again on a 12-play drive that ended with Ahrens running it in to take a commanding 21-10 lead heading into the locker room.

San Marcos took it all the way down to the five yard line to start the third quarter. Looking to add another three point onto their lead, Harlandale’s Ramzey Martinez blocked Elijah Urbizu’s kick in what seemed like a momentum-shifting play.

The next two drives ended in the first two punts of the game before Joseph Wilburn picked off Delgado on 3rd and 12. The next time Harlandale’s offense took the field, it was Zed Horton’s turn, intercepting Delgado’s pass attempt.

The momentum had shifted once again, but the Indians would not go down without a fight. Delgado connected with Avina for two first downs and the offense made it down to the 12 yard line. The Indians came up with a trick play when the needed it most, using the same play San Marcos had used the week before to beat Lockhart.

Delgado passed to Palomino along the sideline, and Palomino found Shawn Tober in the endzone to bring it within three.

The Rattlers were called for several offensive penalties when they got the ball back, pinning them back as they attempted to chew down the clock.

After San Marcos’ punt, the Rattlers made one last defensive stop to end the game and advance them onto the next round.

While San Marcos was a run-dominant team early in the season and transitioned to a balanced attack later in the season, they are showing that they can adapt to whatever the defense gives them, and had plenty of players involved on Friday night.

“Our offense basically takes what they give us, and if it’s Cavion, then it’s Cavion. If It’s KJ (Kaleb Johnson), then it’s KJ,” Soto said. “For (Garner) to run as hard as he was and getting those tough yards, every yard counts and he does a great job of getting those yards.”

Garner finished with 122 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and often served as a  decoy when the Harlandale defense focused on stopping him. Carl Ahrens complete 16 of 26 for 129 yards and three players had 36 or more yards receiving.

For Harlandale, Delgado was 25 of 41 for 226 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Running backs Hernandez and Christian Villareal finished with 37 and 32 yards rushing a piece. and Noah Avina had 86 receiving yards for one touchdown.

Palomino, who is considered one of Harlandale’s top offensive threats was limited to 44 receiving yards.

San Marcos will host Austin Vandegrift at San Marcos Toyota Rattler Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.

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Michael is the founder and editor of ProjectSpurs.com. He has a long history in journalism, sports and online media. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others.

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