By Louie Vera
If there was any doubt the Lopez Lobos were a contender they proved any naysayers wrong.
Lopez stifled the Mercedes potent offense and grinded a gutsy 24-21 victory over the Tigers Friday night at Sams Stadium.
The win put the Lobos back in contention for the District 32-5A title after dropping its first district game last week against city-rival Veterans Memorial.
Lobos Coach Jason Starkey said he was proud of the entire effort from the players and coaching staff in its preparation to hand the Tigers its first district loss of the season.
“I feel excellent, I feel very proud, proud of the way our defense stepped up,” Starkey said. “They played a very, very talented offense. For our defense to step the way they did with seven sacks and great plays. We pride ourselves on bending and not breaking and we did that tonight.”
Lopez’ defense was stifling in the first half and put drew first blood after a blocked punt that was recovered by Jose Lucio in the end zone to give the Lobos a 7-0 lead with 1:30 left in the 4th quarter.
The Lobos’ defense forced another three and out on the ensuing possession that included a gang sack pinning the Tigers back at their own five yard line.
A less-than-mediocre punt from Mercedes put the Lobos in prime position and capitalized with a three-play 30 yard scoring drive capped off by running back Ivan Olivo who razzle and dazzled his way into pay dirt for a 23-yard scoring run.
Mercedes, who came into the district matchup unblemished in 32-5A answered right back with a 13-play 74-yard drive as Fabian Ledesma punched it in on a critical 4th and goal from the one just before the end of the half.
Yet, that momentum was short-lived as the Lobos scored again with a seven-play 50 yard scoring drive capped off by Ivan Olivo’s 10-yard scamper for a 21-7 advantage.
Mercedes didn’t back down in the second half and cut their deficit to 24-21 with 1:27 left to play in the game after 10-yard TD reception by Matthew Ledesma.
Lopez recovered the desperation onside kick and Olivo plowed through with a 12 yard first down run to ice the game and put the Lobos into victory formation.
“Well-played game between two good football teams,” Roger Adame Jr. said. “Credit to Brownsville Lopez they did a tremendous job out there tonight. (Ivan Olivo) did a great job running the ball. Credit to our offense and defense too for fighting to the end to give us a chance to win the football game. It’s a tough loss, but we’ll learn from it and hopefully finish strong.”