Daelan Rivers (14) breaks free from the grasp of New Braunfels defender Kendrick Thompson (20) en route to the go-ahead 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Friday's game. Photo by Andie Rangel.
(New Braunfels) - Seguin overcame three double-digit deficits to briefly lead the 106th Guadalupe River Bowl by a single point midway through the fourth quarter, but New Braunfels made the necessary plays down the stretch to hand the Matadors a 34-29 loss Friday evening at Unicorn Stadium.
The Unicorns used a 70-yard touchdown pass from Trey Johns to Zak Aleman on the first play from scrimmage and a 42-yard scoring strike from Aleman to Garrett Thompson to put Seguin in a 13-0 hole just three minutes into the game, and the Matadors squandered a golden opportunity to turn momentum by failing to score on a 16-play, 74-yard drive that reached the New Braunfels one line later in the period.
Seguin's first points came on a safety with 11:28 to go in the second quarter when a high snap sailed over the head of New Braunfels punter Myles Miller, who knocked it out of the back of the end zone.
Jacob Berkley powered in from four yards out for Seguin's first touchdown to cap a 59-yard drive a little more than two minutes later, narrowing the deficit to 13-9.
New Braunfels pushed the lead to 16-9 on a 38-yard field goal by Chase Mercer with 55 seconds before halftime. A safety after a snap over Seguin punter Martin Rivera's head and another Mercer field goal put the Unicorns in front 21-9 with 9:14 to play in the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Anthony Gonzales came off the Seguin bench and replaced starter Jhalen Mickles to engineer a seven-play, 84-yard scoring drive, capped by a 14-yard Gonzales pass to Hayden Haas with 3:31 left in the third. Luke Deleon's PAT pulled the Mats within five, 21-16.
The Unicorns answered five plays and less than two minutes later, punctuating a 59-yard march with a one-yard run by Johns to extend the cushion back to 12 points, 28-16.
Gonzales struck again for Seguin, this time on a deep completion over the middle to Jordan Parker, who angled toward the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown to make 28-23 going into the fourth quarter.
The Matadors took their only lead with 7:59 left in the final period when Daelan Rivers coralled a Gonzales pass in traffic, broke a tackle, and sprinted across the goal line for a 42-yard score. Seguin went for two, but the conversion pass was deflected out of the end zone, leaving the Mats in front 29-28.
New Braunfels answered quickly, moving 72 yards in six plays and reclaiming the lead for good on a three-yard pass from from Johns to Bryson Dyer, followed by a failed two-point try, with 6:04 remaining.
Seguin overcame an injury to Gonzales on its final possession with some quality snaps from Mickles and two pass interference penalties to move the ball to the New Braunfels 20. Gonzales returned, but his pass toward the end zone on fourth-and-13 from the 23 was broken up at the goal line by Unicorn safety Marcus Riley.
New Braunfels took over possession with 2:41 to play and pounded out two first downs to run out the clock.
"This game is always going to be up and down, it's always going to be a four quarter ballgame, we talked about that all week, and heck, it was 13-0 before we got off the bus today," Seguin head coach Travis Bush said. "And the guys kept fighting, played hard, and they knew it was going to come down to the fourth quarter, and it did. We had opportunities, they had opportunities, but the end, they made one more play than we did."
Gonzales finished 10-13 passing for 242 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second half. Mickles went 12-22 for 104 yards and in interception through the air and led the team in rushing with 78 yards on 12 carries. Darian Shannon added 39 yards on 10 carries, Bekley 35 yards and a score on nine attempts.
Haas totaled 146 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight catches, Parker 90 yards and a score on four catches, Rivers 49 yards and a TD on two grabs, and Berkley five catches for 44 yards.
Seguin piled up 509 total yards, and Bush spread the credit around for the leap in offensive production over the Week 1 loss to Antonian.
"You saw Anthony come off the bench there and do a great job, of course we've got three quarterbacks that can all play, and we just decided to mix it up there, and he came in and did a great job," the coach said. "Jhalen had to step back in and lead us down on a drive, so probably kicking myself there about switching when Anthony got well, because Jhalen was doing good, but that's the decisions you make as a coach. You saw some guys like Daelin Rivers make some plays, Jordan Parker made some plays, of course Hayden Haas, and you know, Jacob Berkley ran the ball tough."
Defensive end Chance Brewster collected the Seguin defense's only turnover when he pounced on a New Braunfels fumble late in the first quarter.
New Braunfels pushed its winning streak over Seguin to five games. The Unicorns have won 11 of the last 12 meetings and lead the all-time series 65-38-3.
Seguin (0-2) plays its final non-district game this Friday against Central Catholic at Bob Benson '66' Stadium in San Antonio at 7:30 p.m. The game will air live on KWED 1580 AM and Seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 6:30.
Seguin defensive end Chance Brewster (84) comes up with a fumble recovery while Deryn Taylor (3) looks on in the first quarter of Friday's game at Unicorn Stadium. Photo by Andie Rangel.