At the homecoming pep rally Wednesday night, Rams head football coach Roderick Taylor guaranteed a victory over Laredo LBJ.
Friday night, the Rams delivered.
The Rams scored their second-most points of the year and held LBJ to just a field goal as Del Rio won its annual homecoming game, 27-3, in front of a nearly packed house at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium.
The win is the first for the Rams on the season. It’s also Taylor’s first win as Rams head coach.
Clutching the game ball under his left arm after the game, Taylor breathed a sigh of relief as he spoke about the win.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “LBJ is a tough team. They won a couple of games already this season. They’re a tough team.”
With the win, Del Rio (1-5, 1-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak dating back to last season. The win also avenged a 7-6 loss to LBJ last season that helped keep the Rams out of the postseason.
Del Rio’s first score came midway through the first quarter. After forcing an LBJ punt, quarterback Matt Mendez hit wide receiver Ricky Haynes for a 43-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Gabriel Zapata’s kick made it 7-0 Rams in the first quarter.
The one-score lead would remain until the second quarter. LBJ quarterback Luis Segura came under pressure from Rams defenders Jayden Talamantez and Alejandro De Luna and fumbled. Del Rio defensive lineman Nathan Casares then picked up the loose ball and rumbled 43 yards before being brought down at the LBJ 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Mendez raced to the left pylon in the end zone untouched for the score. Zapata’s kick went wide left, and the Rams led 13-0.
Del Rio’s defense did its best to keep LBJ off the scoreboard, but penalties on both sides of the ball against the Rams kept LBJ alive for much of the contest.
LBJ’s only score came as the first half wound to a close. An 18-yard scramble by Alejandro Lucio set up a 34-yard field goal for the Wolves with 25 seconds left in the half. The kick was good, and the lead was cut to 13-3 by halftime.
After the two teams exchanged punts to open the third quarter, the Rams defense helped set up Del Rio’s next score after Luis Roberto Chavarria recovered a Wolves fumble and set the Rams up on the LBJ side of the field.
A 36-yard pass from Mendez to Haynes left the Rams on the doorstep of the end zone. From there, Ivan Basurto punched it in for the score, and Zapata’s kick pushed the lead to 20-3.
Defense paved the way for the Rams’ next score of the second half.
After back-to-back plays lost yards for LBJ, quarterback Luis Segura looked to throw to the left side. The ball deflected off his receiver’s hands and into the hands of Rams defensive back Ricky Cedillo. Cedillo weaved his way through the Wolves offense and into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown, and Zapata’s kick gave the Rams a 27-3 advantage.
Cedillo would have two interceptions as the Rams forced six turnovers in the game including three fumbles, the last recovered by Evan McCoy, and three interceptions, the last recorded by Jorge Segovia-Rodriguez.
Penalties were the only thing that helped keep the Wolves in the contest. The Rams were penalized for multiple personal fouls in the second half and helped gift big chunks of yards to the Wolves.
In the end, though, the Rams were able to kneel to run out the clock and earn their first win of the season.
Laredo United had its bye this week and remain atop the district standings at 2-0, but Laredo United South is tied for first with the Longhorns after a 41-28 win over Laredo Alexander, which drops to 2-1. Eagle Pass is also 2-1 after a win over Laredo Nixon.
Del Rio is fifth at 1-1, and LBJ and Nixon are tied for sixth at 0-3.
The Rams travel to Laredo Thursday for a 7 p.m. game against Laredo Nixon at the Bill Johnson Student Activity Complex.