REL football blows past Santa Fe
Robert E. Lee quarterback Igenea Wooley may have been named homecoming king Friday night, but it was visiting Santa Fe that got crowned.
Using a bend, don’t break and blow it open defense, combined by a wide-awake offensive attack, the Ganders broke open a close game at halftime for a comfortable, 34-3 District 12-5A II win at Stallworth Stadium.
The victory gives REL (4-1, 1-1) an equal number of wins as last year and now one more victory over the last five weeks would ensure the Ganders their first .500 or better campaign since 2012.
“This was a big game for both of us,” REL head coach Tim Finn said. “When we played them last year, we knew the winner would be in the playoff hunt and the loser was going to have a rough time of it. Being 0-2 is really tough in this district so this was a huge win for us, and I am really proud of the guys.”
Santa Fe beat REL 49-31 a year ago as the Ganders and sent them into an 0-2 start en route to losing their first four district games.
That won’t happen this year.
Santa Fe (1-4, 0-2) got on the board first after REL fumbled on its second offensive play and immediately took advantage.
It didn’t hurt the Indians that REL committed multiple penalties to keep the drive alive but ultimately it would bog down deep in Ganders territory.
A Noe Rico 25-yard field goal gave Santa Fe a 3-0 lead with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged turnovers in the second quarter and then REL, whose offense was held in check for most of the first half, got the big break when Santa Fe’s punt team made meal out of an attempt. The snap flew past the punter and REL took over at the Santa Fe 16.
Wooley then scored on a one-yard run about a minute later and the Ganders led 7-3 with 4:42 before halftime.
REL almost built the lead to 14-3 at the break, but a Wooley pass was dropped in the end zone as time expired.
“We struggled a little bit offensively and had some penalties defensively,” Finn said. “Santa Fe is a tough team and it’s a war when you play them. They are playoff team from last year and their whole offensive line was back, and they have some defensive players back.
“It took us a little while to get going.”
Get going may have been the understatement of this century.
The second half started and a whole different REL team showed itself.
Then came the key drive of the game as Santa Fe marched down the field following the second half kickoff, breaking off big chunks to get inside the REL five.
However, they were ultimately pushed back to the 13 and the fourth-and-goal pass was unable to connect and REL took over with 5:38 left in the third quarter with its lead intact.
“It was a grind and a tough game up front, and we wore them down in the second half,” Finn said. “That was a great goal line stand and we had two of those. The kids toughened up.”
Then the flood gates opened.
“The defense kept us in it early and then the offense exploded,” Finn said.
Jabier Quinones broke off a 42-yard run on the first Ganders play and that sparked a quick hit drive finished off by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wooley to Elijah Partida for a 14-3 lead with 3:51 to go in the quarter.
“We went in at halftime, talked about it and sat down and thought about some stuff,” Quinones said. “We worked too hard to come out with an L. We took pride and we came out here and executed.”
On the next REL drive, a double pass from Wooley to Partida led to the latter hitting Adrian Boston, who made a spectacular leaping catch over the Santa Fe secondary and a 45-yard score for a 20-3 lead.
Quinones added a 73-run late and Keke Davis had a 75-yard interception return to wrap up the scoring for REL.
Quinones gave credit to Partida for a key block to spring him open for the big run.
“That was a hell of a second half tonight,” Finn said. “We needed a win to get going. The kids bounced back from a tough week last week.”
The Ganders got 132 yards on eight carries from Quinones and Wooley finished 6-for-12 with 130 yards passing.
Davis added 64 yards on six carries.
REL travels to Barbers Hill at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.