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Gonzales leads Wildcats to victory

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    Wildcat quarterback Daniel Gonzales heads for the end zone. Photos by Erin Anderson Photography
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    Linebackers Willie Simmons (#9), Max Galvez (#5) and Jaden Strong (#34) wrap up the Pflugerville running back. Photos by Erin Anderson Photography
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    Carlos Renaud, #75, and Jordan Hood, #76, lead the team in the Elgin Fight Song after their victory. Photo by Ron Ramirez

Whether they want to admit it or not, most people believe in some sort of superstition. These are my lucky socks. Don’t walk under a ladder.

Friday the 13th has been considered to be scary and unlucky. Add to that a full moon, hanging in all its beauty and glory over the visitors stands, providing the home fans a magical sight all night. Plus, you know the stars are aligned when the Wildcats, the Longhorns, the Aggies, the Texans and the Cowboys all win in the same weekend!

The first half was pretty spooky for the home team, but if it was unlucky, it was for the visiting Pflugerville Panthers (1-2). They had the tough luck of running into a group of Wildcats (1-2) who just don’t know when to quit.

Elgin’s home opener drew a large and boisterous crowd, rocking the stands and the sidelines all night long. It was needed, because the Panthers pretty much had their way the first half. On Elgin’s first drive, the ball was fumbled and the Panthers recovered. They drove the ball down the field scoring on a nine-yard run making it 7-0 Panthers.

Elgin’s next drive saw a nice mix of running by quarterback Daniel Gonzales and runningback Peter McFarlin, finishing the drive on a beautiful pass by the quarterback to Trey I’som for a for a 26-yard touchdown. The kick by Jaden Strong was good, bringing the score to 7-7 at end of the first quarter.

Quarter two saw the Panthers run up and down the field. Pflugerville scored quickly on a 10-yard run. Not to be outdone, Elgin’s next possession had McFarlin take the handoff, cut through the line, and make a spectacular 65-yard run before being downed at the five-yard line. After three plays, the 'Cats were unable to punch it in, so Jaden Strong came on and split the uprights with 20 yard field goal with eight minutes left in the half.

The Panthers took their next drive and easily scored, making it 21-10 Panthers. The Wildcats received the ball but were unsuccessful. This left two minutes for the Panthers, who managed to advance quickly before throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass.

As the sports saying goes: “this is why we go ahead and play the game, not just talk the game.”

In the second half, Elgin came out with fire in their eyes, starting with their first drive. The offensive line started to dominate on their blocks. The wide receivers made some tough catches in. The running backs refused to go down on the first hit. And Gonzales took really tough blows but kept jumping right back up.

The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and manhandled their way through the Panthers defense. Gonzales finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown scamper, making the score 28-17.

Then the defense got into the act, dominating the Panther’s offense. The D-line started got penetration, not allowing the backs any sort of running lanes. The QB was under intense pressure the whole half. The linebackers filled in nicely on sweeps and outside plays. The secondary shadowed the Pflugerville receivers. A total reversal of the first half.

When the Cats got the ball back, Gonzales threw a beautiful 44-yard pass that Trevor Magnuson made a great over-the-shoulder catch to score. After three quarters, the Cats were making the comeback, trailing only 28-24.

The fourth quarter was more of the same. The momentum had swung entirely to the Wildcat team. When the Panthers got the ball, they ran into a stone wall named the Wildcat defense. Forcing a Panther’s punt, the offense went to work. Gonzales dropped back and made a nice throw to Magnuson for a gain of 40 yards to the Panther 17-yard line. Gonzales went on to score on a five-yard run. With six minutes left in the game, Elgin led for the first time 31-28.

On the Panther’s next possession, the quarterback threw a short pass to his receiver. The ball was tipped, and Wildcat defensive back Daniel Meurin made a finger tip interception to cradle the ball before it hit the ground. The 'Cats took advantage of the turnover when Gonzales finished up an extraordinary performance by running in from the 27-yard line for the final score of the game: 37-28, Elgin.

When I asked Coach Anderson what adjustments had been made at halftime, he replied that the game plan was solid and the team just executed better in the second half than the first. He explained that Elgin had made some penalties, such as face mask and hitting out of bounds, that helped Pflugerville drives. He emphasized that the team will attack what the opposing team gives them. This week, they saw some openings on the outside and the secondary. The Wildcats have scored a lot of points in the second half, and that gave them all confidence. He was reminded about a story Hall of Honor inductee Harry Krenek had made the night before.  Krenek had said there is a big difference between being beat and being defeated. As an athlete, you will sometimes be beaten in a game. But never let them defeat you. Never give up. Coach feels that is what so special about this group. They are never defeated. They never give up on themselves.

I had a chance to speak with senior quarterback Daniel Gonzales, and he explained that they had seen some keys on film from the Panther defense they would be able to exploit, especially in the passing game. He felt the corners were vulnerable to screens and the long balls. Gonzales felt like the ;Cats had something to prove to themselves, and he felt the pressure to go out and lead them to a victory this week.

Some of the hardest hits so far this season have been made by senior middle linebacker Max Galvez. I asked him what motivated him, and he said that he was inspired not just by his teammates, but by the fans and his fellow students. He felt like this team appreciates and plays harder because of all the support they get. He had no doubt at halftime that the Wildcats could and would come back.

QB Gonzales had an incredible night, running for 123 yards and 3 TDs. He also passed for 194 yards and 2 more scores. McFarlin had a tough 113 yards, mostly inside the tackles. Trey I’som caught 6 passes for 116 yards and 1 TD. Trevor Magnuson caught 3 throws for 63 yards and 1 TD. Kicker Jaden Strong added 7 points with a FG and 4 extra points.

District 13 play starts next week, but the Wildcats have a bye week. Elgin will play their first district game on Thursday, September 26 at Leander Glenn High School Bible Field.

District foes include Cedar Creek, Bastrop, Georgetown East View, Pflugerville Weiss, Brenham, Leander Glenn and Marble Falls.

Elgin JV has a record of 1-1-1 and play next versus Glenn in Elgin on September 25 at 5:30 p.m. Elgin freshmen have a 2-1 record and play next in Glenn on September 25 at 6 p.m.