Stopped short

Canyon defensive back Tendai Henanda forces a San Marcos receiver out of bounds before he reaches the goal line on Friday.

SPRING BRANCH — In a battle of two winless teams, something had to give Friday night at Cougar Stadium.

Canyon battled back in an effort to rally past the Rattlers on senior night, but San Marcos escaped an 0-10 season by hanging on for a 27-22 win.

The Cougars (0-10, 0-7) trailed 27-9 but were given a spark late by Dallas Gomez, who directed a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.

Gomez threw a beautiful ball to senior receiver Cory Moos in the back of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown, but the try for 2 failed. On Canyon’s next possession, Gomez capped the march with a 5-yard TD run that pulled his team closer at 27-22.

But the Cougars were unable to recover their onside kick, and that was the end of the game.

San Marcos (1-9, 1-6) started the night with a perfectly-executed onside try on a pooch kick to Canyon’s 40-yard line. The Rattlers were able to build off the fortune with a first down after recovering their own fumble across the markers.

A field goal attempt ended the drive, however, and senior kicker Daniel Marquez was unable to get enough power on the 45-yarder, as it fell just below the uprights.

Off the turnover on downs, the Cougars came out with an explosive run game, led by junior running back Micah Williford. Early in the drive, he busted loose for a 25-yard burst to the Rattlers’ 39-yard line while sliding through defenders.

Junior kicker Cameron Welch finished the possession with a short field goal, putting the Cougars up 3-0 halfway through the first quarter.

A few drives later, San Marcos was able to steadily move the ball down the field. A holding penalty on the defense early in the second quarter put the Rattlers on the 34-yard line, and few plays later, senior quarterback Alex Garcia connected with senior receiver Takai Madgett for the first touchdown of the night. Marquez’s successful point after attempt made the score 7-3, San Marcos, with 10:48 to go in the second quarter.

The Rattlers’ next drive was just as successful as their last. On a third and medium, Garcia hit junior receiver Moses Alva across the middle of the field on a screen for a whopping 53-yard gain all the way to the 1. Senior tight end Ronnie Perez went under center and powered the ball in for a touchdown on the next play. Marquez’s PAT was successful again, and San Marcos led 14-3.

Canyon was able to get going on its next drive. Williford ran for 12- and 13-yard gains to put the Cougars across midfield on the 45-yard line. Later in the drive, junior defensive back Jack Loos finished the running duties with a gorgeous 27-yard touchdown as he cut back from the left toward the middle of the field.

Canyon attempted a 2-point conversion but failed.

The Cougars came up with a fourth-down stop on defense, but on the first play of their next drive, they fumbled the ball and San Marcos recovered it on the 14-yard line.

The Rattlers initially had trouble moving the ball after the turnover, but eventually Madgett got loose on a comeback route and ran for a mammoth 84-yard touchdown reception — his second of the night.

Marquez did not make the PAT, but San Marcos still led handsomely, 20-9, with less than three minutes to go in the half.

The two teams exchanged empty possessions to begin the second half until Williford broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run down the left sideline. It was called back for holding, though. They Cougars were unable to carry the momentum of the run with them and were forced to a turnover on downs after a bad snap.

San Marcos came on in the fourth quarterback by using its bag of tricks. The first was almost executed perfectly on a double pass, but the throw was just out of reach for a wide-open receiver.

The second trick play was successful. Lined up in an unusual three-linemen set, Garcia led Perez on a quick flick over the middle for a 23-yard gain to the 17. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty brought the Rattlers back to the 29-yard line, but it didn’t matter. Garcia threw it up to Madgett in the right corner of the end zone on the next play, and he snatched it for his third touchdown of the night over the head of the defender.

Marquez’s PAT was good, and San Marcos had a commanding 27-9 lead less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

Canyon had an electrifying 49-yard catch-and-run by Williford on its next drive, putting the Cougars on the Rattlers’ 31. Unfortunately, another fumble ended the opportunity.

Madgett almost had his fourth touchdown on the next drive for the Rattlers, but he couldn’t quite handle the ball with plenty of space in front of him.

Canyon wasn’t giving up just yet, and while the Cougars made things interesting, their comeback bid came up short.

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