The Ratter Defense wraps up the Laredo Alexander quarterback for the sack.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Tony Diaz returns the punt 60 yards for the touchdown, giving San Marcos their first points of the game.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Laredo Alexander scores late in fourth quarter as Rattlers fall to Bulldogs on Homecoming 2023
San Marcos fell 31-24 to Laredo Alexander in a back and forth affair that included five lead changes and multiple turnovers throughout the game. Alexander overcame the Rattlers, erasing a 13-point deficit in the second half.
“It [was] a winnable game in the fourth quarter obviously,” head coach John Walsh said. “We got closer to winning it but we didn't we still didn't pull it off. We were struggling still running the ball. We’ve got to run the football better.”
The Rattlers opened up the game with a solid drive by Senior running back Stefan Stennett, who got into the open field and scampered for a 41-yard rush that put San Marcos in Bulldog territory on the second play of their possession. Alexander’s defense stiffened up though, leading to sophomore kicker Julio Alvarado’s first make of the season on a 27-yarder to give San Marcos a 3-0 lead.
In a change of pace from the Rattlers’ previous three contests, the first quarter flew by. The Bulldogs methodically drove down the field on their first possession, utilizing their rushing attack and winding down the clock in the process. Alexander got inside San Marcos’ red zone before the end of the first quarter, but were forced to kick a field goal after a Rattler stop which tied things up at 3-3 early in the second.
The Bulldogs would keep their momentum going, forcing a San Marcos threeand- out on defense.
Alexander got the ball back and once again moved in chunks, using short-yardage plays to extend their drive past midfield. The Rattler defense would bow up though, getting a tackle for loss that forced a punt from the Bulldogs trying to pin the Rattlers.
Senior receiver and defensive back Tony Diaz had other plans.
Diaz took the punt 70 yards to the end zone on a punt return for a score, giving the Rattlers their first touchdown of the game and a 10-3 lead. In a near exact mirror of the first quarter, Alexander wound the clock to the end of the quarter on an efficient drive that tied the game.
“They were stacking the box and making us throw it outside to Tony,” Walsh said. “And when you get the ball to Tony in space– really good things happen as you can see.”
The Bulldogs again used their calculated offensive attack to move down the field into the Rattler red zone, this time scoring a touchdown on a back-shoulder fade in the left side of the end zone to even the game at 10-10 heading into halftime.
Diaz almost returned the kickoff before intermission, but the Bulldogs were able to take him down at their own 30-yard line to keep things tied.
Alexander came out of halftime just like they did in the first half, utilizing their rushing attack for short-yardage gains and screen plays to get first downs incrementally up to midfield. San Marcos forced a third and medium that would have led to a punt if stopped, but that’s when the Bulldogs had their first offensive explosion of the game on a 40yard rush for a score to give Alexander a 17-10 lead.
Diaz almost responded with his second special teams return of the game to tie things up, but the Bulldogs forced a fumble on a shoelace tackle to save a touchdown and give them possession with solid field position.
They’d capitalize off the turnover, scoring on a 61yard touchdown pass a few plays later to extend their lead. San Marcos was able to block the extra point to hold the deficit at 23-10.
San Marcos wasn’t ready to roll over just yet–Diaz would make up for his fumble on the ensuing possession with a 40+ yard reception from senior quarterback Kutter Gage Webb to move the Rattlers down to Alexander’s 5-yard line. Webb dished it to Diaz on an out-route for a score on the next play to cut the Bulldog’s lead to 23-17.
“I think we did a good job [defensively] for three quarters with the points, but we gotta get off the field,” Walsh said. “I only called 11 plays in the first half. I've never done that in the history of my career. So we gotta get off the field, but there were some bright spots.
“We're still missing tackles. I think we were in the right spots–it looked like it and I think the film is going to show that–but we just got to make tackles.”
The Rattler defense changed their fortunes on third down this time, forcing a fumble after Alexander moved the ball to midfield– a giant momentum play for San Marcos.
The Rattlers capitalized off the turnover, once again thanks to Webb and Diaz. Webb scrambled out of the pocket and got the ball to Diaz in space, and the senior took it to the end zone for a 25-yard score after the catch. San Marcos converted the extra point, giving them a 24-23 lead.
Alexander wasn’t able to respond, with San Marcos forcing a three and out against the Bulldogs. Alexander’s defense would play copycat though, forcing the Rattler offense to punt the ball back in three plays as well.
The Bulldogs once again methodically drove into Rattler territory after being stuffed their last possession when San Marcos got their second turnover of the second half. Senior defensive back Aiden Rodriguez picked off Alexander’s quarterback at the Bulldog’s 15-yard line to regain possession for San Marcos.
The Rattlers drove down to the Bulldog’s 27-yard line, but Alexander forced a turnover on downs on fourth and nine, when San Marcos failed to complete a pass.
The Bulldogs capitalized off the turnover, scoring on a 68-yard rush up the middle to regain the lead. Alexander would also convert their two-point conversion attempt to extend their lead to 31-24 with under five minutes left.
San Marcos moved the ball to midfield on the following possession, but Alexander once again forced an incompletion on fourth down to get the ball back. The Rattler defense would give one last effort late in the game, forcing a punt from the Bulldogs near midfield to give them a shot to tie the game with under two minutes left.
Alexander’s defense would close things out though, intercepting Webb on the Rattlers’ second play and sealing the game.
San Marcos (0-4) will head to Eagle Pass next Friday to match up with the Eagles at 7 p.m.
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