Edcouch-Elsa wanted turkey on the road. The Yellowjackets got it

Hard-Hitting Edcouch-Elsa Stuns Somerset To Advance To 3rd Round
Posted on 11/23/2015
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LAREDO — Edcouch-Elsa wanted turkey on the road. The Yellowjackets got it.

Two big-play second-half touchdowns and a defense that produced a shutout in the second half and an enormous goal-line stand with just a minute left lifted Edcouch-Elsa to a 21-14 upset of Somerset on Friday night in their Class 5A, Division II area round playoff game at Shirley Field.

The Yellowjackets (8-4) rallied against what had been a dominant 10-1 Somerset team to outscore it 14-0 in the final two quarters and earn a trip to the third round Thanksgiving week for the first time since 2012. Edcouch-Elsa advances to play Cedar Park at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

‘Turkey on the road, baby,’ said senior linebacker Sammy Alaniz, who helped stuff running back Josh Avila on 4th-and-1 from the 1 with 1:16 left. ‘Since last year’s offseason, Coach always talked about turkey on the road, turkey on the road. Now we made it.’

It was a familiar recipe for the Yellowjackets. Most of this season, it’s been the defense keeping them in games while the offense overcame a bout of injuries or spotty execution at the worst times. And it was because of defense that, despite three first-half turnovers and 58 total yards, E-E only trailed Somerset 14-7 at halftime.

Fortunately for E-E, it was a different story for the offense the rest of the way. Coach Joe Marichalar moved Marco Aguinaga to quarterback. Aguinaga, who had been the starter but missed the last eight weeks rehabbing from a finger injury suffered Week 3, started the game at receiver but moved to signal-caller late in the second quarter.

After a punt and turnover on downs to start the third quarter, Aguinaga found his groove, producing two consecutive touchdown drives, one a 56-yard pass to A.J. Rodriguez that tied the game with 1:13 left in the period, and then the eventual go-ahead 17-yard score to Tey Valdez, who had two TDs, less than four minutes later in the fourth quarter.

‘We went into halftime not on our game,’ said Aguinaga, who completed 4 of 7 passes for 102 yards and a TD and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. ‘The offense huddled together in one room and just talked it out. This was do or die. We were a bit timid in the first half, and in the second we just played together as a team.’

While the offense got it together, the defense kept doing what it had started.

The Bulldogs never got the big plays they needed. Averaging 406.4 total yards per game, they had 207 against the Yellowjackets. Primarily a running team, Somerset entered the game averaging 8 yards per carry but managed 4 yards per carry against E-E.

Avila, who had 2,209 rushing yards and 21 TDs coming in, had 143 yards on 27 carries and had to work for his two scores, both of which came in the first half.

‘We were ready,’ said senior defensive back Adrian Rodriguez, who collected two interceptions. ‘That’s a tough offense, but we practiced all week for them. We hit them. We went right at them. Coach told us that was a team that really hasn’t been hit hard this year and that’s what we do.

‘We’re a weight room defense. We hit and hit and hit until they just break down.’

And on its final play, Somerset (10-2) did. On 4th-and-1 from E-E’s 1, Avila cut to the outside only to meet Alaniz, who stuffed him for the negative-2 yard loss and the win.

‘I knew they were going to go to the outside because they’re an outside team,’ said Alaniz, who added E-E was careful to not over-pursue Avila because he was a patient runner. ‘I just made a play.’

And the reward? Turkey on the road.

‘We thought coming in if we could play physical defense for four quarters, we’re going to be there at the end,’ Marichalar said. ‘And yeah, we may be a home-run offense, but when we need a drive, we’re going to drive.

‘It was a matter of all of our guys just coming together and saying, ‘We’re going to win this damn thing.’ And there’s your result.’