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King and Queen

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Bandera triumphs in thrilling Homecoming game

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    Bandera Homecoming Queen Jetta Martinez and King William Hunter Garret pose for a photo on the Bulldog Stadium field after last Friday’s victory against their rival. BULLETIN PHOTO/ Chuck McCollough

Bandera’s football season continued its exciting upward trajectory last night with a victory against their longtime rival.

The Bulldogs beat Hondo 2524 in a game where spectators spent most of it on their feet.

“I am super proud of our kids and they believe in themselves and they believe in the team,” said Coach Joel Fontenat-Amedee.

The Owls got off to a lightning- fast start, jumping out to a 10-0 lead with 4:24 remaining in the first quarter. The Bulldogs weathered the storm, though, and got on the board after a long kickoff return from junior Jesse Cardenas set up a two-play scoring drive as senior quarterback Riley Haley connected with junior Alex Dirck on a 36-yard pass before finding junior Solomon Alexander on a 22-yard touchdown.

Hondo responded with an efficient scoring drive that made it 17-7 in favor of the Owls, but after exchanging a pair of threeand-outs, the Bulldogs got a key stop when Hondo attempted a fake punt from its own 38-yard line. Bandera took advantage of the good field position as Haley again found Alexander, this time on a 34-yard touchdown pass, to trim the deficit to 17-14 with 7:25 remaining in the first half.

The Bulldogs again excelled in the field position battle just a few minutes later as senior punter Alberto Muzquiz had a 51-yard punt that junior Matthew Chavez downed at the Hondo 4-yard line. Bandera forced a safety just a few plays later as junior Carson Powers sacked the Owls’ quarterback in the end zone to make it 17-16 with 2:25 remaining in the second quarter.

Muzquiz added a 34-yard field goal just before the half, giving the Bulldogs a 19-17 lead at the break.

Hondo regained the lead midway through the third quarter on a 4-yard rushing touchdown that made it 24-19 in favor of the Owls. After exchanging a handful of punts, the Bulldogs broke through with the big play they needed as junior Jesse Cardenas intercepted a Hondo pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to give Bandera a 25-24 lead.

The Bulldogs needed one final defensive stop in the final seconds to secure the victory, and the Owls’ final heave toward the end zone fell incomplete to give Bandera its first win over Hondo since 2009 while also improving the Bulldogs to 4-1 on the season.

Cardenas finished with 25 carries for 94 yards to pace the offense while Haley threw for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Alexander had three catches for 72 yards and two TDs while Dirck had one catch for 36 yards in the win.

Defensively, junior Dylan Gherman had a team-high 17 tackles while junior Jorge Cabasos added 12 tackles. Junior Eric Straeter had 10 tackles, Cardenas had 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception return for a touchdown, and Daniel Freeman had 9 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

The Bulldogs, winners of four straight games, will look to keep the momentum rolling in the team’s final non-district game of the year against Robstown at 7 p.m. Friday in Jourdanton. Robstown is 3-2 on the season with wins over Kingsville, YMLA, and Progresso and losses to Taft and Cotulla.

Brady Keane contributed to this story.