San Angelo, TX — Two critical second half fumbles were the turning point for Eldorado after a tight first half battle with Haskell. Besides the first drive, the Eagles defense shut down their opponent’s offense with great front line penetration and linebacker play.
The first half started off hot and fizzled as the teams felt each other out.
Eldorado started with the ball in great field position after a good return from sophomore running back Santiago Hernandez put them at the 41. Hernandez showed a taste of what would come with an 8 yard run on second down to make it 3rd and 1.
Senior quarterback Kevan Covarrubiaz, who did more with his legs than his arm in the first half, earned the first down on a 7 yard QB draw. Right after, he found his inside receiver on a four verticals pass out of a trips right package. Senior Cesar Garcia caught it and was brought down at the 18. From there, Covarrubiaz ran into the end zone to cap the 59 yard drive.
Haskell was able to block the extra point attempt to keep it 6-0 with 10:14 in the first quarter.
The Indians ensuing possession started and ended the same way as Eldorado’s. From their 41, Haskell picked up two quick first downs and were helped out by an Eldorado facemask penalty that put them at the Eldorado 16.
Now inside the red zone, Haskel let 6’2” 180 pound senior quarterback Cutter Medford take over. Medford kept three straight read options from shotgun and powered his way to the 4. On first and goal, Haskell put wide receiver Logan Burson in the wildcat, and he slipped his way through the line for six. The extra put was good, putting Haskell up 7-6 halfway through the first.
Haskell nearly extended the early lead after forcing an Eldorado punt. Starting at their 41 again, Medford started to find freshman Anthony Martinez in the passing game. After catching a 7 yard hook, Martinez was targeted on a deep ball down the right sideline. The wide receiver was hand fighting with Eldorado’s Cesar Garcia and fell to the ground resulting in a pass interference call on Eldorado.
The penalty put them across the fifty. On the next play, Burson was tossed the ball and took it to the 14. A holding penalty on 2nd down following a 6 yard tackle for loss by David Barajas put the Indians at 2nd and 26 from the 30. They could not overcome the two mistakes and turned the ball over on downs.
Starting at their 24, Eldorado made short work of the long field. On the first play of the second quarter, Hernandez took the handoff, made a couple Indians miss, and flew down the right sideline to the Haskell 11. The following play, Covarrubiaz scored his second rushing touchdown of the game. This time, the two-point try was no good, 12-7 Eldorado with 11:41 to play in the second.
Those would be the last points of the half. Eldorado’s defense, led by Barajas, Jaakan Jurecek, and Eric Reyes would not let Haskell score despite letting them into the red zone on the next drive.
After making it to the 4 behind Martinez and Burson, defensive lineman Garrett Hariman blew up a 2nd and 2 run to force 3rd and 3 from the 5. Medford tried to work his way through the middle of the line and was stuffed by Barajas, but Eldorado was called offside giving Haskell 3rd and 1 from the 3.
They were met again at the line of scrimmage, and, as a measurement confirmed, forced fourth down. On 4th and inches, Burson took a wildcat snap, bobbled the ball, and was swarmed by the Eagles for the turnover.
The teams traded punts until time ran out in the first half with Eldorado in the lead 12-7.
Eldorado could not have wished for a better start after the break. Martinez caught the opening kickoff and threw Eldorado tacklers off of him on his way to the 47. The freshman might have shown a little too much fight and was stripped on his way to the ground.
The Eagles recovered the fumble and started the drive at the Haskell 47. Back to back carries from Hernandez had them at the 36, and two plays later a Covarrubiaz run had them in the red zone.
From the 15, Eldorado went under center for the first time all game and handed off to bigger running back Eric Reyes in a power formation. Reyes made a couple moves and was brought down at the 6. After a handoff to Edgar Muniz, Reyes got the ball again and punched it in for a two yard score. Once again the conversion attempt was no good, and Eldorado had an 18-7 lead with 7:56 to play in the third.
Eldorado’s ball hawking defense came up big again and recovered a fumble on a mishandled handoff by Haskell. This time, Covarrubiaz and company started at their 47.
The focus of their next drive was slow, methodical movement. Hernandez and Covarrubiaz picked up 11 yards on three carries to move them across midfield. Hernandez then broke free and picked up 20 on an outside run to the right.
Covarrubiaz gained 9 on the next play to put them at the Haskell 13. Eldorado went backwards on the following two plays and found themselves in 3&15 due to a holding call and loss of 7 on a Hernandez run. Covarrubiaz must have had a miscommunication with a receiver, because he threw a ball directly to a Haskell defender with no Eagle in the area. Luckily, they could not make the easy catch.
Eldorado converted on 4th and 15 when Covarrubiaz escaped the pocket, rolled right, and connected with a crossing Cooper Meador at the one yard line. They went backwards again, but it did not matter. Elias Luna found his way to pay dirt on 3rd and goal from the 5 to go up 24-7 with 1:28 in the third.
Haskell cut the lead to 10 on the next possession with a Burson wildcat touchdown four minutes later, but their onside kick failed to go ten yards giving the ball back to Eldorado at the Haskell 46.
Despite the short field, they were still able to milk the clock. Hernandez had 35 yards on six carries and capped the four minutes drive with a three yard touchdown run. 30-14 Eldorado.
Haskell tried to move the ball, but Luna ended all hope with an interception at midfield with 3:34 remaining. All Eldorado had to do was was get a couple first downs and kneel the ball.
The defense's three second half turnovers, and the offense's ability to capitalize on them, were the difference in a rematch of last year's playoff loss (Haskell beat them 26-22). Santiago had one of his best performances of the year and relieved Covarrubiaz from the pressure of having to throw the ball on nearly every play.
Eldorado will now play #10 Wheeler next week in the area round. 8-2 Wheeler defeated 7-3 Archer Thursday night 54-47. The Mustangs' only two losses of the year are to #5 Hamlin and #4 Wellington.
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