Alice tops Mercedes in bi-district matchup

MERCEDES— Mercedes linebacker Brandon Adame tightened his gloves at midfield.

The Tigers were hosting the Alice Coyotes in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Adame and the Tigers defense had the Coyotes in their grip as they were facing a third-and-long.

They were looking to force a turnover.

Adame walked up to the defensive line to pump up his teammates before the snap. The Coyotes had just converted two first downs and were moving the chains using their running game after the Tigers’ opening kickoff.

“We knew all week we were going to have to establish a run game to really get our offense going,” Alice head coach Kyle Atwood said.

Adame and the defense chased down Alice running back RJ Salaiz and tackled him for a short gain and forced them to punt on fourth down.

The Tigers started the drive on their own 20-yard line, capped off by Jared De Los Santos’ rushing touchdown to break open a scoreless tie. It wasn’t enough to ignite Mercedes the rest of the way, however, as it lost 21-17 on Friday night.

The game would go back and forth the rest of the night as the Coyotes later found the end zone in the second quarter, but did not convert the extra point.

“We were two teams fighting to stay alive,” Atwood said. “Mercedes put themselves in a lot of great situations both offensively and defensively.”

De Los Santos lifted the Tigers to a 14-6 lead after a 57-yard touchdown run past the defense in the third quarter.

But in the fourth quarter the Tigers would see their lead dissolve after a blocked punt that left Alice in scoring range. They scored and converted with a two point conversion to bring the Coyotes within three points, trailing 17-14.

And late in the fourth quarter the Coyotes scored once more using their running game and a long pass to lift the Coyotes to a 21-17 lead with less than a minute to go.

“We were lucky that the ball bounced our way when we needed it too,” Atwood said.

Alice (8-2, 5-2) will face Brenham (9-2, 6-1) in the area round of the Playoffs.

“The boys fought hard,” Mercedes head coach Roger Adame said. “It just didn’t come our way.”

Mercedes capped off a (7-4, 5-1) season.

“We had our chances,” Mercedes linebacker Brandon Adame said about the loss. “The offseason starts Monday, and we got to get back on it.”

rgarcia@themonitor.com