It was a chilly night in San Antonio’s Gustafson Stadium last Friday but that did not deter about 4,000 fans from being there to see the area playoff game between the Refugio Bobcats and the Dilley Wolves. The Wolves put up a battle through the first half but a torrid second half saw Refugio down the Wolves 44-14.
Refugio will now advance to the Class 2A Division II Region IV finals for the opportunity to move on to the quarterfinals. Their opponent will be East Bernard and the game will be played in Victoria’s Memorial Stadium this Saturday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.
For Refugio it was “déjà vu” all over again as the Cats and the Wolves met last year in the area playoffs and in the same stadium but on a much colder night. Refugio won that game 28-7.
Refugio won the toss, deferred to the second half, and kicked off to the Wolves. The Wolves set up at their 29 and with the aid of a big play and a 15-yard penalty, moved up to the Cat 48. There the Cats’ defense stiffened and the Wolves punted.
Refugio took over at its 5-yard line and on the very fist play quarterback Kyle Hendley’s flat pass was intercepted at the 21-yard line and returned by Zack Zambrano for a touchdown. Raul Hernandez kicked the PAT and a shocked Refugio found itself behind 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Cats took the ensuing kickoff at their 26 and moved up to the 36 where they faced fourth down and inches. A run by Aaron Perez lost yardage and the Refugio had to turn over the ball to Dilley at the Cat 32.
On second down the Wolves threw a pass which was batted up in the air a couple of times but then ended up in the hand of a Dilley receiver at the Refugio 8.
It was beginning to look rather grim for the Bobcats but here is where things began to turn around. Despite a 2-yard gain on the first play, a big defensive play on second down by Irvin Fox set the Wolves back 7 yards. An incomplete pass brought up fourth down and a 32-yard field goal try failed. The ball then ended up in Refugio’s hands at its 20 after the stellar defensive stand.
The Bobcats then moved quickly in eight plays to the Dilley 13 and there Eric Martinez nailed a 30-yard field goal to put Refugio on the scoreboard but still trailing at 7-3 near the end of the first quarter.
Refugio’s defensive dominance started to appear as it held the Dilley offense on its next possession and forced a punt to the Cat 30-yard line. Refugio then made a scoring march despite suffering a holding penalty.
Two great pass catches from Hendley, one of 26 yards by Cory Brown and one of 32 yards by Christian Espindola, put Refugio on Dilley’s 11-yard line.
Charlie Henderson then capped the drive with a dash up the middle. Martinez’s extra point try was partially tipped and failed but Refugio moved to a 9-7 lead.
Refugio tried a pooch kick on the following kickoff which gave the Wolves good field position at their 43 but the Refugio “D” again stepped up to force a punt.
A good return by Brown set Refugio up at the Dilley 42 and a face mask penalty pushed the Cats to the Wolves’ 39. In two plays the Cat offense moved to the Dilley 13 but there another pass by Hendley was picked off and that squelched the drive.
Dilley was again forced to punt on its next possession and Refugio ended the half on the Dilley 23 with a shaky 9-7 lead.
The second half was totally different than the first half. First half mistakes by the Bobcats helped the Wolves and hindered the Bobcats. The second half was an explosive and dominating one for Refugio and devastating for Dilley.
Refugio took the second half kickoff and pretty much abandoned the passing game. Henderson, who would have a great night rushing, started things off at the Refugio 26. On the first play; he broke loose on a 35-yard run. Brown would add 10 yards on a run and Henderson would tack on 20 more with a run to the Wolves’ 5-yard line.
A 2-yard loss pushed the Cats back to the 7 but two plays later Hendley would hit Espindola with a scoring pass. Martinez kicked the extra point and with 10:06 showing on the clock in the third period. Refugio began its surge, leading 16-7.
Refugio held the Wolves on their next possession and took over on a punt to its 19. The Refugio offensive line began to open holes with Henderson getting 29 more yards.
The Cats moved to the Dilley 31 and Henderson scored as he burst up the middle for a touchdown. Martinez made it 23-7 near the end of the third stanza.
Refugio’s next scoring drive came again after a Dilley punt. Refugio started at its 23 and after eight plays scored on a Henderson 14-yard run around right end. Martinez’s kick was again successful and Refugio was in command, 30-7 early in the fourth quarter.
After the TD Martinez tried another pooch onsides kick and this time it was successful as the Cats came up with the ball giving Refugio great field position at the Dilley 34.
Bryan Castellano ran 20 yards to the Wolves’ 11 on first down and quickly capped off the short drive with the 11 yard TD scamper. Martinez’s kick made it 37-7 with 8:26 left to play.
Another onsides kickoff attempt by Martinez failed and Dilley would take over at its 45. Three plays later Cody Carroll broke away on a touchdown jaunt. Hernandez kicked the PAT and the score went to 37-14.
Refugio took the following kickoff at its 29 and, utilizing the running of Perez at quarterback, began its last scoring drive. Perez would make 55 yards of the yardage gained with Castellano tacking on the TD with a 3-yard run. Martinez kicked the conversion point to make the final score 44-14.
Refugio turned what started out to be a scary beginning into a lopsided victory. The Cats overcame early offensive errors and used its tough defense in the win.
Henderson had a big night as he rushed for 193 yards on 14 carries. Perez and Castellano followed with 59 and 57 yards respectively. Hendley passed for 223 yards on 13 of 20 attempts with Ortiz gaining 86 of those yards on 4 receptions.
The Refugio defense pretty well shut down the Wolves and allowed 201 yards of offense with 44 of those yards coming on one big run.
“Now the plot thickens”, so you might say. Refugio (12-0) plays East Bernard (9-2) in the regional finals. The Brahmas are coming off a big area win last Friday over Karnes City, 42-0.
It is also “déjà vu” again as the two played in the regional finals last year. It was a close contest with Refugio winning 21-14.
East Bernard is coached by Jerry Long, once an assistant Refugio coach. The two teams have met 3 times in the past with Refugio winning all three games.
This contest can be expected to be a very tough one for Refugio, the No. 1 ranked Class 2A team.