It's Game Day!

Del Rio Rams captains, from left, Gabriel Riojas, Andrew Garza, Nathan Casares and Richard Haynes, honor Del Rio High during the playing of the school song prior to the start of Del Rio’s game against the Laredo United South Panthers.

With the last-minute loss to Laredo United South in the rearview window, it’s time for the Rams to focus on getting back to their winning ways.

Those hopes start tonight at Laredo Alexander. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bill Johnson Student Activity Complex.

The Bulldogs and Rams have played a wide variety of exciting games since the Rams’ arrival in District 29-6A in 2008. In fact, Del Rio’s first game back in 29-6A was an upset of the high-powered Bulldogs.

Nowadays the two teams have been going in separate directions. Alexander has been a perennial playoff participant while the Rams have missed out on the postseason each of the past two years.

The Rams have won six of the 11 meetings between the two teams, but haven’t defeated Alexander since a 24-0 shutout in 2016. Prior to that, the Bulldogs lost three straight to the Rams.

Last season, Alexander got the better of the Rams, stopping Del Rio 42-7 on the way to a second 2-8 season for Del Rio.

This year the Rams once again enter the game against Alexander, but the Rams have slowly been getting better each week. After beating Laredo LBJ and Laredo Nixon in back-to-back wins, the Rams gave Laredo United South everything the Panthers could handle before a field goal at the final whistle end Del Rio’s win streak.

Alexander downed Eagle Pass, 42-30, handing the Eagles their third district loss of the season and putting them on the brink of missing the playoffs.

The good news for the Rams is that South also beat Alexander, 41-28. That performance should give Del Rio hope as it looks for its third win of the season and a chance to move one step closer to the playoffs.

Quarterback Jay Santos leads Alexander into tonight’s game. Santos, a junior, was somewhat a bystander in the win against Eagle Pass. He was 15-of-21 for 267 yards, but only one touchdown. For the season, Santos is 98-of-174 for 1,531 yards and 15 touchdowns against just one interception.

His top targets include Iker Jaimes (30 catches, 541 yards, 4 TDs), Jose Rodriguez (26 catches, 446 yards, 3 TDs) and Camilo Pedraza (21 catches, 254 yards, 4 TDs).

This year the Bulldogs have relied heavily on their running game this season. According to MaxPreps, four different players have scored rushing touchdowns, and three players have at least 100 yards rushing.

Leading that group is senior Pedraza. Pedraza has rushed for 1,039 yards and 20 touchdowns in eight games for the Bulldogs. Against Eagle Pass, he had 23 carries for 113 yards and two scores. It was the fifth straight game he rushed for at least 100 yards.

Defensively, the Bulldogs enter tonight’s game with eight sacks, including three from Marco Torres, and six interceptions, including two each from Devan Ethridge and Nomar Garcia.

Turnovers have plagued the Rams in recent weeks, especially against United South where four turnovers led to three of the Panthers’ four scores including the eventual game-winning field goal. If the Rams can hang on to the ball and control the flow of the game, slowing down the Bulldogs’ attack, then Del Rio could pull off a late season surprise and earn a third win for the first time since 2016.

Defensively, the Rams need to once again focus on tackling and not allowing Pedraza to break loose. The team did a good job of teaming up to slow down United South’s runners, but they’ll need to show up and show out against a Bulldogs team that can clinch a playoff spot with a win.

Fans who travel to the game should dress warm. Temperatures are expected to be in the 50’s with a light wind.

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