Pleasanton’s football team came a point shy of erasing a 20-point second half deficit and lost 33-32 on the road to King at Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Javelina Stadium on Oct. 5.
The Eagles (5-1) trailed 30-13 at halftime before the gap widened later.
“We just weren’t tackling very well. Things that we were doing in previous weeks, we weren’t, like running to the ball and playing to the whistle. We had a tackle at the five yard line and guys said they thought they had him down, but he squirts out and gets a touchdown. We just did some things that are uncharacteristic and correctable because at halftime we made two adjustments and [King] scored three points in the second half,” said Pleasanton head coach Stephen Liska.
King (3-2) connected on a 27-yard field goal with 9:04 left for a 33-13 advantage. Pleasanton worked quickly in the fourth quarter to launch a comeback.
Johnny Zamora threw a 17-yard touchdown pass with 8:19 left.
The Eagles went 90 yards in three plays and 50 seconds for their second touchdown of the quarter, coming within 33- 26 with six minutes left.
Zamora threw a 53-yard touchdown pass with 3:47 left, but the Eagles missed the extra point.
Liska said he was not concerned about going for a two-point coversion because Pleasanton had enough time to work toward stopping the Brahmas and get the ball back. However, King converted a third-and-11 play for a first down in the last two minutes to deny the Eagles another shot on offense.
“We had the guy hemmed in on our sideline and he converged and we stretched it out and he had just enough for [the first down],” Liska said.
Still, Liska was glad to see his players fight back.
“The kids rebounded because it was 30-13 at the half. We had nothing going our way. We could have shut it down and quit. It could have been 60-13. I give them a lot of credit for coming back, their resilience in facing adversity. Every district opponent we play is going to be a Kingsville caliber team where they have athletes all over the place,” Liska said.
The Eagles’ defense was not as sharp as in prior weeks, allowing a season high in scoring. They allowed King to gain 423 yards of total offense.
Pleasanton was confronted with a multipurpose athlete starting for the first time at quarterback, Raz Garcia, who was responsible for 292 of the Brahmas’ yards (164 passing, 128 rushing).
“They had been rotating guys at quarterback throughout the year,” Liska said. “They definitely had some team speed.”
Still, with 426 yards, Pleasanton outgained King by three. For the fourth time in the first six games, Zamora threw for more than 330 yards. Also, this was his second five-touchdown performance in past three games. Dalton Hobbs caught three touchdown passes for the third time this season despite being covered by a defensive back who, at six-foot-oneinch, is closer to him in size than previous matchups.
“Every catch that Dalton had was contested,” Liska said.
This was the first game in which Pleasanton lost the turnover battle, giving up two fumbles and recovering one fumble by King.
“They had some where it was a fumbled snap or this and that on the ground, but were able to pick them up,” Liska said.
Pleasanton starts district play against Gonzales (2-4) on Oct. 12 at home at 7:30 p.m.
Gonzales has scored 25.2 points per game while Pleasanton has allowed 11.5 per game. Pleasanton has scored 35.8 points per game while Gonzales has allowed 33 per game. The Apaches have allowed more than 35 points three times. Pleasanton has scored at least 30 points in every game.
“They’re a very athletic team, a physical team. I compare them to Somerset. They’re going to try to impose their will on you. We’re getting ready. We’ve got this one behind us. We’ve played some great games against Gonzales in the past,” Liska said.
Pleasanton lost its last game against Gonzales 46- 28 in 2015, as well as its last four meetings against the Apaches.
Liska said that since Pleasanton only has four district games, each one means more.
“Our goal of being 10-0 is gone, but we can still be district champs. We can still make a run in the playoffs. The second season starts now,” he said. “Having that first one at home is a big plus.”
Friday’s game will feature the Pleasanton athletics Hall of Honor induction ceremony at halftime.