The era of sophomore quarterback Matt Mendez has begun.
The first-year varsity player entered Friday night’s game against Kerrville Tivy early in the second quarter. He finished with a pair of touchdowns to wide receiver Richard Haynes, but the Rams dropped their third game in a row to start the season, 48-14, to the Antlers.
Tivy improves to 2-1.
Tivy didn’t waste much time putting points on the board, breaking the scoreless game with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Trapper Pannell just over four minutes into the game. The kick was wide, though, and Tivy led 6-0.
Three minutes later, Pannell found the end zone again, this time on a three-yard run, and Tivy built a 13-0 lead.
When the second quarter began, Tivy went with a change at quarterback. Pannell moved to wide receiver, and Cole Miears moved in under center. The move paid off quickly as Miears and Pannell connected for a five-yard strike that pushed the lead to 19-0.
While senior Dominic Sanchez started the game for the Rams, Del Rio’s offense was unable to move the ball with any success against the Tivy defense. When Del Rio went back on offense in the second quarter, it was Mendez, the son of Rams co-defensive coordinator Nick Mendez, who was sent out to oversee the Rams attack.
Mendez fumbled on his first big run, but the Rams were able to recover. Del Rio eventually punted to Tivy, but back-to-back defensive plays by Jay Gomez and Joey Jimenez helped shut the Antlers down and forced a Tivy punt.
Mendez was eventually able to get the Rams’ first first down of the half, but the drive stalled and Del Rio punted again. On Tivy’s very next play, Miears aired out a pass that found Pannell for a 45-yard touchdown. The Rams’ Andrew Garza blocked the extra point attempt, leaving Tivy up, 25-0.
After a big kickoff return by Aiden Huerta set the Rams up at the Tivy 49, Del Rio was only able to get five more yards before punting back to the Antlers.
Then the game came to a halt as for the second home game in a row, Del Rio lost a starter to a serious injury. Junior defensive back Sergio Treviño moved into make a play on a Tivy receiver and was sent hurtling over the play, eventually landing on his head, neck and upper back.
Treviño was able to move at least one arm following the play and was eventually transported from the field by stretcher to a nearby ambulance, but was apparently speaking with nearby family members the entire time. He was taken to a local medical center for precautionary reasons.
No update on his condition was available as of press time.
With 40 seconds left in the half, Tivy hit for their fifth touchdown of the half as Pannell scored his fifth touchdown, this one from a yard out, to help the Antlers take a 32-0 lead by halftime.
After Tivy’s offense was forced to punt, the Rams found themselves deep in their side of the field. A tackle for a loss pushed the Rams back further, and then a bad snap over Mendez’s head and into the end zone resulted in a safety for the Antlers and a 34-0 lead.
Tivy scored on the ensuing drive on a three-yard pass from Miears to Fisher Middleton, and the extra point made it a 41-0 lead for Kerrville.
Another Rams punt put the ball back in Tivy’s hands and the Antlers responded as Pannell broke loose down the near sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run. The kick was good, and the lead climbed to 48-0 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
With 13 seconds left in the third, Del Rio finally found the end zone.
Mendez lofted a picture-perfect pass into the hands of Haynes in stride as Del Rio picked up a 29-yard passing touchdown. Miguel Zapata added the extra point to make the lead 48-7 in favor of Tivy.
After stopping Tivy on their next drive, the Rams went back to work on offense.
Mendez took the snap, rolled right, and then rolled left to try and make a play. He spotted Haynes zooming through the end zone and threw a strike that resulted in a 23-yard touchdown for the Rams. Zapata’s kick was good, and the lead was cut to 48-14.
Though Tivy eventually made it to the Rams’ three-yard line, the Antlers chose to kneel the ball to run out the remainder of the clock and complete the win.
Del Rio travels to San Antonio Saturday, Sept. 21, for a 7 p.m. game against Harlan at Gustafson Stadium.