The Calallen Wildcats advanced to the regional quarterfinals with a come-from-behind victory Friday against the Mercedes, beating the Tigers, 31-22.
Mercedes sophomore quarterback Albert Chavez was consistent with both his passing and running game, completing 10 of his 16 passes for 147 yards with one touchdown, while gaining 54 additional yards rushing.
With the score 7-7 in the first quarter, the Tigers were deep in their own territory at the 10-yard line.
Chavez threw to running back Alex Trevino, who was wide open, for a 90-yard touchdown pass, giving the Tigers a 15-7 lead after converting the two-point attempt.
On Calallen's next possession, the offense began at the Wildcats' 35-yard line. Quarterback Jeramie Marek and tailback Bryden McClure executed their running game down to the Mercedes 8-yard line. Marek found an open spot to get into the end zone as the Wildcats were down, 15-13.
Marek converted the two-point attempt, finding receiver Jordan John to tie the game, 15-15, early in the second quarter.
It would not be long before the Tigers answered back as their running game continued to overpower the Calallen defense.
When Trevino pushed it in for a 1-yard touchdown run, Mercedes got the lead back, 22-15.
Late in the first half, the ball was on the Tigers' 10-yard line with Calallen in control. On third-and-six, Marek looked for an open receiver but the ball was incomplete, forcing the Wildcats to attempt a field goal.
After a successful 27-yard field goal attempt, Calallen was behind 22-18 at the half.
"They were gashing us, and moved the ball up and down," Danaher said. "Mercedes is a really good team, but our defense played much better in the second half, making sure our offense got the ball."
Calallen played like a different team in the second half.
In the third quarter, Mercedes had the ball for only 10 plays, and not once did they step foot in Wildcat territory.
Past the halfway point of the quarter, Calallen back-up quarterback Dustin Vaughan put his 6-foot-4 inch frame to good use executing the throwing game.
After throwing a 7-yard pass to McClure, the Wildcats were at the Tiger 6-yard line on third-and-goal.
Vaughan went for the quarterback keeper, getting through to the end zone as Calallen got its first lead since the first quarter, 24-22, after the extra-point from Anthony Cantu barely missed the right goal post.
"It feels good to contribute," Vaughan said. "We really needed to pick up our game in the second half."
In the fourth quarter, Mercedes began to get desperate. On fourth-and-10 from the Calallen 35-yard line, the Tigers called their last time out with more than 7 minutes left in the game. They decided to go for it and defensive lineman Colton Parker sacked Chavez for a 1-yard loss.
On the very first play from the Wildcat 36-yard line, McClure breezed through the Mercedes defense for a 64-yard touchdown run to seal the victory for Calallen.
"The holes were obviously tonight helping me with the running game," McClure said. "I just had to find them, and I credit the offensive line."
Along with a more confident offense, Calallen's defense held the Tiger offense scoreless in the second half and allowed only 41 yards without factoring in penalties.
"(Trevino) is one of the fastest guys in the state, so we had to do our best in the second half to contain him," said Calallen linebacker Kris Guerrero. "We need to play the run better next week and keep our defense injury free."
With the win, the Wildcats head to Victoria to play the Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandcrabs, who beat the Floresville Tigers 31-14 Friday night.
"(Port Lavaca) is very run-oriented," Danaher said. "We need to try and stop their option, and we need to move the ball offensively against them."