By Louie Vera
Port Isabel Head Coach Monty Stumbaugh has never been one to shy away from rolling the dice on the gridiron.
And it paid off tonight.
Stumbaugh went for two and converted on the legs of Omar Silva giving Port Isabel a thrilling 15-14 overtime victory over Brownsville Lopez Friday night at Sams Stadium.
“It was a tough physical football game,” he said. “We believed in the kids and we said lineup and get two yards. They did and we were able to get the win.”
The Tarpons knew they would be in for a battle and despite some misfortunes, were able to outlast the Lobos’ gritty play.
“Lopez is a well-coached, hard-hitting and physical football team,” Stumbaugh said. “We left a few scores out there and even when Lopez came up big our boys didn’t back down. We have young kids and they have young kids and I thought I saw them grow up tonight.”
Down 7-0 for most of the game Lopez got the spark it needed when Josue Luna blocked Jesus Saldivar’s punt and was capped off by Alec Angeles taking it back 31 yards for a TD late in the fourth quarter.
Port Isabel didn’t flinch and drove down into Lopez territory inside the 10 yard line on its ensuing possession, but a botched pitch ended the threat as the Lobos’ Jesus Luna recovered the live ball.
Lopez coach Jason Starkey and company later faced a critical 3rd and 10 on their own 25 in its first overtime possession when quarterback Alex Ramirez fired a laser to Johnny Ibarra for a touchdown to take a lead 14-7.
“We scheduled it for a reason because we knew it was going to be a knockdown dragout battle,” Starkey said. “It’s exactly what we needed to get us ready for the district that we are in. We scheduled them because they are champions. It was a great opportunity to get our young offense and experienced defense to go against a veteran ball club, coached by one of the best in the Valley.”
Starkey added that he was pleased with the effort from the team and is looking forward to seeing the tape and getting better.
“I’m happy with our effort but we have to clean up a lot of our execution,” he said. “Defensive effort was great, they are the tip of our spear. We have to do better when we have the ball in our hands but we will go back and look at the film, fix those mistakes and we will get better I promise you.”
Silva ran for 127 yards in the first half that included a 61-yard touchdown scamper up the middle of the Lobos defense to draw first blood at 7-0 with 6:55 remaining in the first half. Silva had a game-high 190 yards complimented by teammate Carlos Oduna’s 115 on the ground.