ODEM – With both teams already having secured a playoff spot, Friday’s game between Odem and Taft still had plenty on the line.

The Owls rallied to defeat the Greyhounds at Owl Stadium 28-16, setting up their battle at London Thursday night for the district championship.

The game was all offense in the first half before both defenses took control in the second half. 

The Greyhounds started the game with a nice drive to take an early lead. Runs by Oscar Ozuna and Troy Luera gave Taft a first down at their 44. Luera the dashed 19 yards to the Owls 34 before Ozuna picked up 22 yards to the Odem 12. Two plays later Jeremiah Sanchez scored from 11 yards out and Ozuna rushed for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 Greyhounds.

The two teams exchanged punts before the Owls got on the board. Consecutive runs by Abel De Luna netted 14 yards to the Taft 30 for a first down. Two plays later Nico Garcia hit Dylan Andrade for the 30-yard touchdown pass, but the conversion failed allowing Taft to hang on to an 8-6 lead.

The Greyhounds responded as the second quarter began. Justin Goben took off on a 27-yard run to the Odem 29 and two plays later Sanchez bolted 10 yards to the 17. After a Taft penalty, Ozuna broke tackle after tackle before scoring on a 22-yard run and after he added the two-point conversion Taft was up 16-6.

Odem then began their 22-0 run to close the first half. Hunter Dawson picked up a pair of first down runs before Orlando Gonzalez broke through the middle of the Taft defense and raced 47 yards for the touchdown. Diego Rodriguez nailed the point after to get the Owls within 16-13.

Taft was forced to punt on their next possession and after a short kick Odem had the ball at the Greyhound 18. Three plays later Gonzalez had his second touchdown of the night, scoring from six yards out. Rodriguez tacked on the point after to give the Owls a 20-16 lead.

The Greyhound misfortunes continued as they fumbled the ensuing kickoff and De Luna recovered the loose ball for the Owls at the Greyhound 33.

After an Odem penalty Dawson used runs of 13 and 14 yards to give the Owls a first down at the three. Two plays later Gonzalez scored from one yard out, his third score of the night. Andrade carried the ball in for the conversion to make it 28-16 Odem and it would turn out to be the final score of the game as the first half came to an end.

The second half turned out to be a defensive battle but not without the Greyhounds making several bids to get o the board. Two Taft drives ended on downs inside the Odem 20 and their final shot ended on downs in Owl territory. 

“Very proud of our kids for staying committed to the cause and overcoming adversity. We had seven kids out this week and that forced a lot of new kids to have to step up and fill new roles. In the first quarter Taft really got after it and things could have gone in two different directions. Our kids continued to battle and help each other to make sure we were on the winning side in the end. Glad we could send our seniors out with a win in their last home game,” Head Coach Armando Huerta said.

For the Owls Gonzalez finished with 83 yards and three scores and Dawson finished with 57 more rushing yards. Andrade caught both of Garcia’s passes for 37 yards. Marcus Martinez finished with 12 tackles, Gonzalez added 11 tackles, Dylan Tijerina had eight tackles and a sack, James Romero finished with two sacks, six tackles and a blocked punt while Bailey Hernandez ha seven tackles and an interception.

For the Greyhounds Ozuna finished with 57 yards passing and 64 yards on the ground. Sanchez added 55 rushing yards and Goben had two catches for 28 yards and he added 30 yards on the ground. Jaime Gonzales finished with nine tackles, three for losses, Sean Suarez and Goben had six tackles each and Ritchie Trevino had four tackles and a sack.