The Victory Life Academy Warriors gave first-year head coach Sean Lewis a win after defeating San Marcos Hill Country, 66-63, Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
The Rams (0-1, 0-0) struck first on the first drive of the game. Shortly after recovering their own fumble, the visitors scored about three minutes into the game. Less than two minutes later, the Rams extended their lead after another score. Attempts at extra points on both scoring drives were unsuccessful.
The Warriors responded with a score of their own near the end of the first quarter, courtesy of a 25-yard catch and run by senior Martin Venegas. A two-point kick by senior Sem Oscar Joseph cut the deficit to 12-8.
Not to be outdone, San Marcos Hill scored again, but was unable to convert an extra point. Heading into the second quarter with an 18-8 lead, the Rams found themselves in a tight contest as VLA junior Roland Aguinaga found the end zone. Another Joseph kick tightened the game at 18-16.
The Rams, who were scoring quickly, lit up the scoreboard at the 8:29 mark in the second quarter. The Rams abandoned attempting one-point conversions after two previous fails, but were successful in the kicking game. At this point, the Warriors found themselves down 26-16.
Venegas responded for the Warriors, dragging to Ram defenders in the end zone with 6:44 left in the first half. A two-point kick later and the Warriors once again cut the lead to 26-24. An errant pass late into the first half saw the Rams take advantage and grab another six points. The two-point kick attempt was blocked by juniors Jack Haley and Marshall Clark.
With no time left on the clock in the first half, a San Marcos Hill personal foul penalty on fourth down gave the Warriors one more shot. Joseph took advantage of the Ram miscue, darting nearly 30 yards for a Warrior score. The kick was no good, sending the Warriors into the locker room at the half 32-30.
The second half proved to be an offensive tug of war between the two teams. This point was illustrated as San Marcos Hill scored in the first 15 seconds of the third quarter. A one-point conversion was successful, giving the Rams a 39-30 lead. Two minutes later, Joseph scored with his feet twice—running and booting the two-point kick to cut the lead to 39-38.
VLA took the lead for the first time with 3:38 left in the third quarter, courtesy of another Venegas score. Although the kick was unsuccessful, the Warriors took a 44-39 lead. The Rams scored one more time in the third quarter to take a 47-44 lead.
Both teams would light up the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but in the end, another Joseph score proved to be too much for the Rams to overcome. Lewis said he was proud of how the team continued to play until the final whistle. “I am glad that they kept fighting and stuck it out,” Lewis said. “They didn’t give up on themselves or their teammates.”
The Warriors did not participate in any scrimmages leading up to the season opener, and because of that, Lewis said he was proud of his team, but sees areas that need improving. “This was their first live action,” Lewis said. “Like I said, they kept fighting. Obviously, we are going to have to work on our defense, but I am glad we walked away with a win.”
VLA hosts Austin-Concordia at 7:30 p.m. Friday.