ELSA — Mother Nature brought the rain Saturday night at Benny Layton, Sr. Memorial Stadium, and Edcouch-Elsa provided the thunder and lightning.
The Yellow Jackets’ “Lightning Offense” scored four second-half touchdowns and the “Thunder Defense” pitched a second-half shutout as Edcouch-Elsa pulled off a 42-28 comeback victory over Mission Veterans to clinch the final playoff spot in District 16-5A Division II.
“I knew we had something going in at half. We were going to make some adjustments and go ahead and come out firing on all cylinders and go ahead and take this game back,” Edcouch-Elsa head coach Christian Navarro said about the comeback.
Edcouch-Elsa senior running back Justin Galan exploded for five touchdowns in the game, four of which came during the third and fourth quarters.
“Our O-line is the best out there and without them, we wouldn’t be anything. Every single time we got the ball, we just had the fire in our eyes to keep pushing and pushing,” Galan said.
The Mission Veterans’ offense appeared unstoppable during the first half. Senior wide receiver AJ Gonzaque went off for three first-quarter touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing, and added a successful two-point catch as the Patriots raced out to a 28-14 halftime lead.
But there was no quit in the Yellow Jackets.
A fiery halftime speech from the Yellow Jackets’ center, Sean Marmolejo, motivated his Edcouch-Elsa teammates to get things going during the second half.
“Our center (Marmolejo) told us we had to get it together, stop making mistakes and do better. We showed up in the second half,” Edcouch-Elsa running back Josh Gomez said. “We were gaining momentum for sure because every time we touched the ball, they couldn’t stop us.”
Edcouch-Elsa running back Ever Crispin added another Yellow Jackets touchdown, while Gomez and Galan were the go-to-guys late that kept the chains moving.
Mission Veterans quarterback Ricky Reyna finished with three passing touchdowns, with Gonzaque on the receiving end of two of them.
The Yellow Jackets improve to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in 16-5A DII, while the loss ends Mission Veterans season with a 1-5 record.
“Since I was put here to go ahead and take over this program, we wanted to go ahead and build kids with character and discipline. I feel we’ve done that,” Navarro said. “The sky’s the limit with these young men. They’re playing hard-nosed, Yellow Jacket football.”
The Edcouch-Elsa Yellow Jackets (5-1, 3-1) have earned the No. 3 seed in District 16-5A DII and will face the Boerne-Champion Greyhounds (6-2, 4-1) in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Time, date and place have yet to be determined.