LAREDO — Facing off against the district’s top signal caller, the Del Rio Rams had no answer for Laredo United’s Eduardo “Wayo” Huerta.
The senior threw six touchdowns in three quarters of work as the United Longhorns rolled to a 54-3 win over the Del Rio Rams Friday night at the Bill Johnson Student Activity Complex.
The loss drops the Rams to 0-5 on the season and 0-1 in District 29-6A. United improves to 5-1 and 2-0 in district.
It was a rough night for Del Rio all around, but especially for starting quarterback sophomore Matt Mendez. Mendez was intercepted three times, his first three turnovers of the season, and was battered throughout the first half and early second half by the Longhorns defense.
He was eventually replaced at quarterback by senior Diego De Leon, who played most of the second half.
Mendez was one of several Rams who were bit by the injury bug in the contest. Starting tight end/punter Sergio Mireles did not play the second half and was seen in street clothes on the sideline. Offensive lineman Isaac Salazar was also knocked out of the game with a lower leg injury.
Del Rio did get one player back. Senior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanchez, who sustained a serious concussion in Del Rio’s season opener against Warren and was taken off the field by a stretcher, caught a pair of passes for 21 yards in his first game since being cleared to return.
Though the Rams got the opening kickoff, it was United’s defense that set the tone early. Del Rio’s first drive ended with a Mendez interception by linebacker Hector Benavides, setting the Longhorns up at the Rams’ 36-yard line. Five plays later, running back Sammy Reyes ran it in from two yards out to stake United to an early 7-0 lead.
United then successfully pulled off an onside kick recovering at the Rams’ 43-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Huerta found wide receiver Aric De los Santos for a 43-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Del Rio’s next drive ended in disaster when the snap on fourth down sailed over Mireles’ head and into the end zone. He recovered the loose ball, and then ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 16-0 United lead.
After the two teams exchanged punts, United’s offense went back to work.
The Longhorns’ ensuing 11-play drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Carlos Jaime and a 22-0 lead after the missed extra point.
Del Rio was able to move the ball on its next drive as Mendez used his legs and his arm to drive the Rams down the field. He found wide receiver Ricky Haynes for nine yards and a first down, then benefitted from a pass interference penalty against United for a second first down.
After a pair of Sergio Alameda runs got the Rams inside the Longhorns’ 20, Del Rio was able to move into a first-and-goal situation when United was called for being offside on fourth down.
However Mendez was sacked for an 11-yard loss, which derailed the Rams’ attack. Del Rio eventually settled for a 38-yard Gabriel Zapata field goal to cut the lead to 22-3 with just under five minutes left in the first half.
Del Rio was able to get the ball back pretty quickly as big defensive plays by Andrew Garza and Alejandro De Luna put the ball back in the Rams’ hands. Unfortunately Del Rio couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt back to United following a three-and-out.
United took immediate advantage as Huerta came out and hit Ricky Chapa for a 41-yard touchdown that helped push the Longhorns’ advantage to 29-3.
On Del Rio’s next possession, the Longhorns picked Mendez off again, setting United up near midfield.
After a 10-yard strike from Huerta to Chapa, Huerta took care of the remaining distance to the end zone with a 35-yard pass to Tanner Sanchez. That gave United a 36-3 headed into halftime.
Del Rio’s luck appeared to turn as the second half began when Kristofer Del Toro recovered an onside kick by the Rams, but when he celebrated by throwing the ball in the air, Del Rio was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and moved back to their own 35-yard line. The Rams eventually gained just seven yards on the ensuing drive, and Zapata punted back to United.
Huerta went back to work, completing 4-of-6 passes on the drive and capping things with a 12-yard touchdown pass to De los Santos that resulted in a 42-3 lead for United.
Del Rio’s next drive lasted just two plays as United’s Daniel Gonzalez intercepted Mendez, his third of the game, and brought down the curtain on the sophomore’s night with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
The interception set United up with a short field, and three plays later the Longhorns banged home a 28-yard field goal to push the lead to 45-3.
De Leon came into quarterback for Del Rio on the next drive, but the Rams again went three-and-out and Zapata punted back to United.
Huerta came out for one more drive, capping United’s next possession with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Luz Leal that made the score 51-3 late in the third quarter.
De Los Santos would handle things from there for United, guiding the Longhorns to a 25-yard field goal on their last possession of the game that made the score 54-3.
De Leon gave the Rams one last chance to find the end zone, moving Del Rio down the field thanks to passes to Sanchez and Aiden Huerta, but his final pass left Del Rio four yards short of a first down as time expired in the contest.
The Rams will look to snap their losing streak Friday night when they host the Laredo LBJ Wolves at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium at 7 p.m. for Del Rio’s annual homecoming game.