SAN ANTONIO — If Del Rio was counting on Southwest Legacy place kicker Javier Lira to fail a third time, the Rams were out of luck.
After having one field goal blocked and missing a second field as regulation time ended, Lira banged a 21-yard field goal off the left upright and through in overtime to lift the Legacy Titans to an 11-8 win over the Del Rio Rams in the season opener for Del Rio.
For Legacy, it was their second win in four games on the season. For the Rams, it was a disappointing way to start a season they waited weeks just to start.
Del Rio’s loss was a tale of missed opportunities.
The Rams had the first chance to score in the first quarter after forcing and recovering a Titans fumble, but after quarterback Matt Mendez was sacked and forced the Rams into a 4th-and-16 situation, a bad snap sailed over the head of punter Donnie Lewis and set the Titans up at Del Rio’s 37-yard line.
Del Rio looked to turn the Titans away inside the five-yard line, but a defensive holding penalty breathed new life into Southwest. Two plays later, Brandon Moscorro punched it in from a yard out for the first score of the game. Quarterback Zezar Tovar then hit Jorge Pineda for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 Titans lead.
After a Rams punt, Del Rio’s defense stepped up to keep their team in it. Fabian Venegas made a big tackle for a loss on second down to put the Titans into a third-and-long. Alejandro De Luna and Jaden Talamantez then teamed up to force Tovar into a poor throw on fourth down and get the ball back to the Rams.
Del Rio’s ensuing drive was derailed by a sack by Isaiah Alvarado that brought forth another Rams punt.
Legacy used a big 38-yard pass from Homer Flores to Pineda to move into Rams territory. The Titans moved to the 11-yard line before Talamantez sacked Tovar for a loss to bring Lira out for his first field goal try. Del Rio’s Andrew Garza broke through the line and blocked the kick, sending it bouncing back towards the Titans’ side of the field. De Luna recovered the loose ball, and Del Rio was in business at its own 34-yard line.
A Ricky Haynes run netted 23 yards and put the Rams into Titans territory. Another 13-yard run by Jovahn West got the Rams to the Titans’ 30, but Del Rio would get no further and turned the ball over on downs. That would be as close as the Rams would get in the first half as the Titans carried their 8-0 lead into halftime.
The Rams and Titans would start the second half trading punts. Del Rio turned a bad snap again over Lewis’ head into a six-yard kick, but a sack by Talamantez and an incomplete pass, thanks to the efforts of De Luna and Oscar Duran, forced a Titans punt.
The Rams and Titans went three-and-out on each of their ensuing possessions until Del Rio got the ball back at its own 40-yard line.
After a short Aiden Huerta run, Huerta got the call again. This time the speedy running back/wide receiver found a crease on the right side of the line, headed for daylight and then outran the defense, leaping into the end zone for what looked like a 59-yard touchdown run. However, a holding penalty against the Rams took the points off the board and eventually led to another Rams punt.
Del Rio forced another Titans punt, and the Rams tried to move the ball downfield starting near midfield.
A 19-yard run by Huerta got the Rams inside Legacy’s 30-yard line. Del Rio was able to move the ball to the Titans’ 23 where the Rams went for it on fourth-and-seven. Haynes took the snap out of the wildcat formation and got in behind his blockers, picking up enough yards for the first down, but as he fought for more yards the ball was jarred from his arms and Legacy recovered at their own 14-yard line.
Del Rio stepped up to bring about another Legacy punt, and the speedy Haynes atoned for his fumble by returning the kick to the Titans’ 16-yard line.
The Rams would get only five yards from there, and Lewis was sent to try a 28-yard field goal. His kick was good, but Legacy was called for illegal procedure and the Rams were given the option of taking the points or the yardage, which would give the Rams a first down.
Del Rio head coach Roderick Taylor opted to take the yards and go for the touchdown, but on the very next play Huerta fumbled and Southwest recovered at their own six-yard line.
The Rams defense caught a break when Tovar missed a wide open Pineda on third down and Legacy was forced to punt. The kick sailed out of bounds and Del Rio took over at Southwest’s 46-yard line.
Del Rio methodically moved down the field until a Mendez run set up the Rams at the Titans’ 14-yard line. On the next play, Mendez took the snap and lofted a pass toward the left side of the end zone. Marcus Leak leapt up, made the catch around the one-yard line and tumbled into the end zone for the score. The Rams went for two and Mendez avoided the Legacy rush and found Haynes for the conversion to tie the game at 8-8 with 2:27 left in regulation.
Southwest was determined to win in regulation and set out for one final score. A defensive pass interference call moved the Titans to their own 36. Three plays later, Tovar hit Damian Hernandez for a 24-yard gain the Rams’ 40. After a holding penalty against Legacy, Tovar found Jeremiah Sifuentes for 23 yards and a first down at the Rams’ 26.
After a 10-yard run by Tovar, Alejandro De Luna and his brother Jesus De Luna teamed up to sack Tovar for a four-yard loss. The Titans kept the ball on the ground and moved to the Rams 17 for a field goal try with three seconds left in the game.
Lira came out to kick, but pushed his kick left and it sailed wide, sending both teams to overtime. The Titans won the coin toss and went on defense first in overtime, putting the ball into the Rams’ hands.
Del Rio started quickly as a quick pass from Mendez to Haynes netted 14 yards on first down and put the Rams at the Legacy 11-yard line. But a pair of incomplete passes sandwich a false start penalty and a nine-yard loss on a running play to push the Rams to fourth-and-23 at the 24-yard line. Mendez’s last pass attempt failed, and Legacy took the field needing only a field goal to win.
The Rams shut down Legacy on the first two plays, but on third down an incomplete pass was wiped away by a pass interference penalty against the Rams, moving Legacy to the Rams’ 11-yard line. After three short runs by Hernandez, Lira came on to try his third field goal of the game.
This time his kick struck the left upright, but skipped through for the game-winner.