CALALLEN — A year ago, a touchdown pass at the end of the game put Calallen over Alice.
This year, it was a toss in the end zone with no time left before halftime which made the difference.
With the game even at 14-14 with only four seconds before halftime, Calallen was at the Alice 15-yard line. Quarterback Gaige Lamb took the snap and was immediately wrapped up by Alice defenders. However, he spun away and throw a high-arching pass to the back corner of the end zone and into the hands Nathan Rabe.
The touchdown robbed Alice of all the momentum it had built in the first half, and led to a 41-14 blowout.
The Coyotes seemed to half the Wildcats on their heels early on. They scored first six minutes into the game on a one-yard run by quarterback Michael Garcia.
After Calallen responded on its ensuing drive with a seven-yard touchdown run by Reece Barrett early in the second quarter, the Coyotes came back with a quick scoring strike capped off by a 38-yard scoring sprint up the middle by Javier Alvarez.
Calallen mounted a long drive which ended by a short two-yard run by Barrett with 1:09 left in the second quarter. Alice was unable to get moving and was forced to punt from its end of the field. Punt returner John Gattis fielded the punt and took it to the Alice 5 with nine seconds left. The next play drew a holding call on the Wildcats and they were backed up to the 15 with only a play left before halftime. That’s when Lamb connected with Rabe.
Alice coach Chris Soza said the play before halftime swung all the momentum Calallen’s way.
“We couldn’t get anything going our way,” Soza said. “We couldn’t get our offense moving like we needed to. Calallen was controlling the line of scrimmage. Defensively, we just didn’t get a lot of those three-and-outs.”
The Wildcats scored on their first possession of the third quarter on a pass from Lamb to Elijah Hawkins for a 42-yard score. Initially, Calallen had been flagged, but officials waved off the penalty.
Calallen added two more scores in the fourth on a 25-yard pass from Lamb to Phil Hobbs and a four-yard run by Alec Brown.
“You have to give Calallen credit,” Soza said. “Their kids were big, strong and fast. I’m proud of our kids though. They played the best they could. We just ran out of gas there at the end and Calallen took advantage of it.”
The Wildcats amassed 423 yards of total offense compared to 148 by Alice. The bulk of Calallen’s yardage — 274 yards — came on the ground for the Wildcats.
Lamb led Calallen by completing eight of 13 passes for 149 yards. He also rushed for 97 yards on 18 carries. Hawkins had 13 carries for 89 yards.
Cameron Trevino paced the Coyotes with five carries for 82 yards. Alvarez had three carries for 42 yards.