AUSTIN — A late interception by sophomore safety Jeremiah Hastings was the exclamation point for an Apaches defense that pitched a shutout Friday night with Gonzales (1-1) beating Austin Crockett (0-2) 14-0 at Burger Stadium. Cougars’ running back Andrew Jones found openings in the first half but was kept out of the end zone by a stellar Gonzales defense who gave up just 16 points to Navarro last week.
“The defense has given up basically two scores in eight quarters now,” Gonzales head football coach Mike Waldie said after the game. “[They] played lights out.”
The defensive line including senior defensive ends Lion Williamson and Diego Diaz de Leon wreaked havoc, with both Williamson and de Leon finishing with one sack each, Williamson adding six tackles and one tackle for a loss in the stat sheet and de Leon coming away with six tackles and two tackles for a loss.
“I thought our d-line played well as the game progressed,” Waldie said. “Diego and Lion made some good plays. Secondary stepped up, two sophomore safeties there in Jeremiah Hastings and Brady Barfield. We got a big pick from ‘Izzy’ [Victor Izaguirre], one of our junior backup corners in for ‘A Rod’ [Adrian Rodriguez], next-man-up mentality.”
Izaguirre’s interception near midfield brought the Apaches to the Austin Crockett 28-yard line, giving the team a short field to work with.
Offensively, the Apaches had another slow start. Their first score came late in the third quarter, a one-yard rush by Heath Henke.
“I thought it was an intensity thing for a quarter and a half,” Waldie explained. “You know, they’re 15-year-old kids, no pre-game music, big stadium, no one here tonight, it wasn’t Apache Stadium, it wasn’t rocking and rolling, and we told them pre-game and that’s the only good thing, I think now we can learn from this, plus I don’t think we’ll have a lot of stadium situations like this from now on, to be honest with you, but that was a factor tonight.”
That drive, the Apaches had an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ate 3:47 of game clock. The offense showed different looks, with Henke finding Keisey Ramirez for an 14-yard reception, Dillen Ramos coming away with a 10-yard rush, four-yard rush, nine-yard rush and a five-yard rush, a wildcat quarterback rush from Abreyon Dora that went 10 yards and Henke’s two scrambles, one for 11 yards and his one-yard touchdown score.
The offensive struggles came in the passing game, where Henke would complete just 8-of-19 throws for 43 yards.
“Offensively, plain and simple, we got to throw the football,” Waldie said. “We’re not throwing the football very well right now. That’s from protection, that’s from catching it, that’s from throwing it and that’s from a little bit of schematics.”
Even with the struggles on the air, the Apaches took advantage with their quarterback runs, especially in their second touchdown drive where Henke rushed seven times for 23 yards, including another one-yard touchdown dash. Ramos rushed twice on the short drive for 5 yards.
“That’s a schematic thing, that’s a coaching thing and I own that as a football coach,” Waldie said of the passing game. “We will find a way to be better. We’ve got to be better with the schedule that’s coming.”
“But here’s the deal, you got to learn how to win as a football team and we did that tonight,” Waldie added. “That’s step one. Your first win together is always the toughest win, to be honest with you. Proud of them. For the second time in a row we’ve come back with two scores in the second half after a slow start and this time we found a way to win. That’s the most important thing.”
The Apaches travel to Yoakum to take on the rival Bulldogs. Yoakum overwhelmed Cuero 42-21 Friday night. Next week’s game is Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.