Edcouch-Elsa beats Alice after late touchdown, 18-17

Pete Garcia

Alice Echo-news Journal

EDCOUCH — For most of the night, it appeared the Alice Coyotes' playoff run was going to be extended by at least another week.

Then, the Yellow Jackets went ahead and stayed ahead to win, 18-17, and eliminate Alice from the Class 4A state playoffs.

Roger Garcia scored on a six-yard run and Miguel Garcia kicked the extra point with 2:22 left in the game to give Edcouch-Elsa the eventual game-winning one-point lead.

Trailing for the first time in the game, the Coyotes quickly march down field with passes to Zach Garza and Mark Garcia. The drive stalled on the Yellow Jackets' end of the field when quarterback A.J. Benavides was sacked twice.

"You can't say enough about the way our kids played," Alice coach Brent Davis said. "They fought the whole time like they did all season."

The momentum the Yellow Jackets used late in the game began midway through the third quarter after they scored on a touchdown pass from Erik nino to Aaron Tanguma. Down 14-9, Edcouch-Elsa scored two-points when holder Ronnie Perez caught the snap and found his way into the end zone. The two-point conversion cut Alice's lead to 14-11.

"Man anytime you give up one of those two-point conversions like that it always comes back to haunt you," Davis said. "Those two points ended up being the difference at the end."

Still leading by just three in the fourth quarter, the Coyotes moved down to the Yellow Jackets seven-yard line. They came away from that possession with three more points off a Justin Guerrero field goal with 6:29 left in the game.

Edcouch-Elsa's ensuing possession, which led to the game-winning touchdown, began with a personal foul called against Alice on the kickoff return. With the penalty, the drive started at midfield. nine plays, including two third-down conversions, later, the Yellow Jackets had the lead.

In the first quarter, its was Alice that looked like it was the team which should have its own corrido and rap song.

The Coyotes scored on a one-yard Amado Ramirez run after a 19-play drive which spanned 65 yards and took some nine minutes.

The Yellow Jackets were off in the first half. They dropped a potential touchdown pass. It was one of three crucial drops in the game. They could only muster three points off a 22-yard Miguel Garcia field goal in the second quarter.

Edcouch-Elsa coach Joe Solis said his team began the game slow, but made big plays when it counted most.

"You don't have to play a perfect game to win, but you have to still play pretty good and we did tonight," Solis said. "When we need to, we played well."

Edcouch-Elsa did catch a break in the final minutes of the quarter when an Alice touchdown-scoring drive ended with an Alice fumble at the Yellow Jackets seven-yard line.

"We didn't make a lot of mistakes, but that was one," Davis said. "I don't know how we lost the ball, but we should have been up by two touchdowns."

Solis said the fumble was a turning point.

"That was the turning point…that fumble," Solis said. "After that we went into halftime and told the kids that we were lucky to be down just 7-3, so we needed to take advantage of the break in the second half and we did."

Alice extended its lead in the third quarter when Mark Garcia turned a short pass from Benavides into a 59-yard touchdown scamper.

For Garcia, a junior receiver, it was a breakout game. Aside from the touchdown, he made a critical fourth-down catch to prolong Alice's last drive, and the ended the game with a season-high seven catches for 98 yards.