CALALLEN — For everything that the Alice Coyote did right against the No. 4-ranked Calallen Wildcats, in the end it was a turnover, field position and momentum that made the difference.
Alice’s plan was to keep it close and then open things up offensively late in the game, and for the most part it worked out that way. The Coyotes were able to penetrate the Wildcats’ injured offensive line and slow their offensive attack for most of the night. That kept the game close.
So midway through the fourth quarter, after the Alice defense forced a short Calallen punt against the wind, the Coyotes took over at the Wildcats’ 41-yard line. Calallen was only ahead 14-0 then, so it was still close. On the second play of the drive, quarterback Trey Jaramillo connected with Devyn Orta for a big gain down the sideline. The Coyotes hurried to the line of scrimmage and went to Orta again, this time Calallen defensive back Richard Davis beat Orta to the ball for an interception and a 30-yard return.
More than anything, the turnover and run back seemed to take the wind out of Alice’s sails, Calallen went to work on the ground and finished the drive with a 23-yard scoring run by Zach Hawkins.
Alice coach Kyle Atwood said against a solid and well-round team like Calallen, turnovers are always costly.
“We moved the ball on them, but we just didn’t take advantage when we had chances and we had a couple of turnovers,” Atwood said. “Verses a team of the caliber of Calallen, you can’t afford to have those things happen, and expect to be on top at the end of the game. Momentum is everything in the game of football, and tonight, (Calallen) just had it a little more than we did.”
Calallen didn’t have a problem picking up yardage against Alice Friday night. Where they struggled was sustaining drives and getting into the end zone against the Coyotes speedy and aggressive defense.
Afterwards, Calallen coach Phil Danaher was complimentary of the way Alice played.
“We didn’t execute real well tonight, but a lot of that has to do with Alice’s defense,” Danaher said. “They’re defense played well.”
The Coyotes defense made a series of key stops early in the game, keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone in the first quarter.
However, on the second play of Calallen’s first second quarter possession, quarterback Colton Duff went kept the ball and raced past the Alice defense for a 71-yard touchdown.
Duff ended the game with 18 carries for 183 yards. A.J. Brown had 18 carries for 66 yards.
Jaramillo led Alice with 13 carries for 34 yards. He also completed nine of 20 passes for 66 yards.
Trailing 7-0, the Alice offense set up in the third quarter, but the possession ended with a fumble at Calallen 43-yard line. The Wildcats used the short field to set up a four-yard scoring run by Brown.
With the win, the Wildcats earn a spot in the 30-5A championship game as the North Zone representative. Alice's playoff fate depends on the outcome of Friday's games.