The bounces didn’t go Del Rio’s way in their first game under new head Roderick Taylor, but the second half gave fans a reason for optimism.
Del Rio outscored Warren, 7-0, in the second half of Friday’s 28-7 loss and played with a renewed enthusiasm that was missing after two early turnovers and the loss of a team captain due to injury.
Senior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanchez was taken from the field in the first quarter after a blow to the head while he was blocking left him lying on the field for several minutes. Sanchez was eventually able to move his legs and speak to trainers and medical personnel who tended to him, and gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to fans and teammates as he was wheeled to a nearby ambulance for transport.
Sanchez would not return to the game, and no update was available on his condition by press time.
As for the rest of the Rams’ performance in the opening quarter, it couldn’t have gone any worse for Del Rio, which was playing in front of the home fans at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium
On Del Rio’s second play from scrimmage, running back Ivan Basurato was stripped of the ball and Warren recovered at Del Rio’s 28-yard line. Two plays later, Warren quarterback Anthony Cisneros found a gap in Del Rio’s defense and raced to the end zone to help stake the Warriors to a 7-0 lead.
Del Rio’s second drive, which featured Sanchez’s injury, came to a premature end when quarterback Dominic Sanchez found himself under heavy pressure and dropped the ball inside Del Rio’s 15-yard line. Warren’s Jason Duron eventually came up with the loose ball and set his team up at the 11.
Three plays later, running back Samuel Stanford bulled his way into the end zone for the score, and helped Warren take a 14-0 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged punts before Warren cobbled together a nine-play, 97-yard drive that took four-and-a-half minutes. It concluded with Stanford going in from two yards out for his second score and a 21-0 Warren lead late in the second quarter.
After forcing a Del Rio punt, Warren’s final scoring drive came just over a minute later as Cisneros connected with Tel’em Turner for a 10-yard touchdown pass. That made the score 28-0, which stood as the teams went to halftime.
Del Rio’s first drive of the second half ate up much of third quarter and showcased Sanchez’s passing and the running of Sergio Alameda. The Rams were able to get as close as the Warren 3-yard line before sending Gabriel Zapata out for a 22-yard field goal. However, back-up quarterback Diego De Leon pulled the ball down after the snap and tried to run for the end zone, but he was buried at the 11-yard line.
After forcing a Warren punt, Del Rio’s next drive ended with Warren’s Michael Robbins intercepting Sanchez and returning the ball deep into Rams territory before an illegal block brought the back to near midfield.
Del Rio’s defense held on the ensuing drive, and after another Sergio Mireles punt, the defense came up big again as defensive back Jay Gomez hit Warren’s Raphael Idrogo to force an incomplete pass on fourth down.
The Rams’ next drive appeared to stall near midfield and Mireles was sent out to punt, but the senior instead quickly ran up and took the snap and rumbled six yards for a first down to Warren’s 46-yard line.
On the next play, Sanchez dropped back and lofted a deep pass to a streaking Aiden Huerta. Huerta split a pair of defenders to make the catch, and then raced into end zone for Del Rio’s lone touchdown. Zapata’s kick made the score 28-7 with just over six minutes left to play.
The Rams defense nearly came up big on the next drive when Del Rio’s Joey Jimenez let a pass bounce off his chest and into the arms of Warren’s Marco Guzman for a first down. However, four plays later, Gomez struck again, picking up Warren’s Christian Miller and returning the ball 43 yards to Del Rio’s 48.
The Rams eventually punted back to Warren, and Warren ran one play before allowing the clock to run out and end the game.
Del Rio heads to San Angelo Friday, Sept. 6, to face the Central Bobcats at San Angelo Stadium at 7:30 p.m.