Things change fast in football. Just last year, Robstown defeated a last-place Orange Grove team to clinch a playoff berth. This year, it was the Bulldogs clinching a playoff berth against the last place Cotton Pickers with a 27-0 win.
But being in last place with an 0-7 record didn't seem to matter for the Cotton Pickers going into the game. The Robstown defense held the Bulldogs' prolific passing attack in check throughout the game, forcing them to keep things on the ground. Defensive backs David Vargas, Joe Angle Luna and Marvin Salinas used some hard hitting to force two interceptions and two fumbles.
“I'm really proud of our kids,” Coach Rick Gonzalez said. “We're basically playing for pride. But they came out and acted like we're playing for a playoff spot. Aside from a few miscues early, we made them work for everything.”
However, the Cotton Picker offense never seemed to get on track to keep pace with the Bulldogs. Robstown managed just 109 yards of total offense and four first downs.
Orange Grove's running game was able to wear down the Robstown defense. Julian Salas punched in an early two-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Orange Grove an early 7-0 lead.
The Cotton Pickers tried to take advantage when linebacker James Flores grabbed an interception off a tipped pass from Salinas. But Robstown's Luis Rodriguez threw an interception the following play, setting up another short-yardage score by Salas to go up 14-0.
“We were getting the three-and-outs and turnovers, but we kept giving it right back,” Gonzalez said. “It wore us down. We had a ton of kids go down late. It was mostly fatigue.”
Salas scored his third touchdown of the night in the third quarter to make it 21-0. Vargas tried his best to give the Cotton Pickers some late momentum with an interception and forced fumble in the fourth. But Rodriguez had a tough time with the Orange Grove pass rush, never getting the team into Bulldogs territory.
Ricky Martinez score the game's final touchdown with 47 seconds left in the game, making the final 27-0.
Rodriguez, who ended the night 7-14 with 68 yards, was hurt late in the game, rolling his ankle. Omar Elizondo, who returned to action after missing the team's game against Miller, filled in for the final snaps. Rodriguez's injury didn't appear to be serious, but Gonzalez expects Elizondo to see more action next week.
“Omar was our number two coming into the season,” Gonzalez said. “It looks like he may have to take a little more of a role. But he's been preparing since January, so we feel comfortable with him back there.”
Robstown returns home on Friday to host the Raymondville Bearkats, who are coming off a 26-16 win over West Oso.