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2023 BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS
Dilley defense scores twice, Wolves outlast Santa Rosa 34-27 for bi-district win.
Dilley snapped a five-year playoff drought and won its first postseason game in six years with a rousing 34-27 bi-district win over Santa Rosa last Friday at Laredo’s Shirley Field.
The Wolves should have walked out of Laredo with a lopsided win but four turnovers kept the Warriors in a wild contest that saw Dilley score in every facet of the game.
Dorian Aranda returned a missed Santa Rosa field goal attempt for a school-record 109-yard touchdown and he also picked off a Warriors’ pass and returned it 85 yards for another score. Roman Martel picked up a fumble and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown and Bubba Garcia added a 72-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
“The four turnovers kept Santa Rosa in the ball game but our defense stayed tough and made big plays,” DHS Athletic Director and Head Football Coach David Silva said. “Dorian Aranda played at another level, making big plays when we needed them and Juan Garcia had two big kickoff returns, taking one to the house to start the second half.”
Dilley’s offense moved the ball well, but turnovers killed four possessions including three redzone trips and one inside their own ten-yard line that directly led to a Santa Rosa score.
Ethan Santos and Seth Cano keyed the offense, which moved the ball on Santa Rosa but could not maintain drives due to the turnovers. Santos had the Wolves’ only offensive score with a two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Dilley now moves on to the area round of the playoffs this week and will take on the #3 state-ranked Tidehaven Tigers in Warrior Stadium at Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway ISD.
“This week will be a big challenge for us, playing the number three team in the state, the Tidehaven Tigers,” Silva said of his team’s task this week. “Our boys are up for the challenge.”
Dilley showed a lot of that resiliency in their playoff win over Santa Rosa and in a tough overtime loss to state-ranked Poth earlier this year.
The Wolves opened up a 14-0 lead in the first half of the bi-district win but turnovers nixed a drive that could have given them a 21-0 lead.
Dilley’s defense stopped a Santa Rosa drive in the first and forced a field goal attempt that fell short. Aranda, standing in the back of the endzone, caught it and after eluding a pair of defenders in the endzone, hit the Santa Rosa sideline and went the distance for the record-breaking score.
Leading 7-0, the Wolves mounted another drive that went to the Warriors’ 20-yard line but a fumble killed the possession.
Santos then capped a third Dilley drive with his two-yard run in the second quarter as the team went up 14-0 with 5:48 remaining in the half.
Santa Rosa dug deep into its playbook on its next series, throwing a 45-yard flea-flicker pass to the Wolves’ six-yard line and eventually scoring from five yards out for their first points and cut the margin to 14-7 with 2:3 left in the half.
Dilley drove to the Santa Rosa 33-yard line as the half was winding down but a sack ended the possession as time ran out.
The Wolves took control of the game in the second half but could never really put away the Warriors.
Bubba Garcia took the opening kick of the second half and with a cut upfield, went 72 yards for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Aiden Gonzales then sniffed out a wide receiver pass play, tackling the Santa Rosa wideout for a nine-yard loss to stuff the Warriors on their next possession.
Dilley once again drove the length of the field on their next possession behind its ground game and reached the Warriors’ 23-yard line where another fumble ended the drive. Santa Rosa would pick up the ball and return it to the Wolves’ 40-yard line. They would drive to the Dilley 26 before Juan Garcia picked off a pass at the 20.
Following a Dilley punt, Santa Rosa would mount another drive, this time using a pair of long passes to set up a score. The Warriors hit a 47-yard strike down the sideline on the last play of the third quarter and then a 33-yard pass to set them up at the Dilley two. Santa Rosa would score on two-yard run a play later but Dilley blocked the extra point to lead 21-13 with 11:22 left in the fourth.
Having the momentum, Santa Rosa would then attempt and recover an onsides kick. A wide receiver reverse run had the Warriors at the Dilley 31-yard line a play later. Dilley then stuffed the Warriors on three straight plays to force a fourth down pass.
Aranda would step in front of that pass, maintain his balance inbounds, and weave through traffic along the sideline before sprinting down the field for an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. Santiago Cruz booted his fourth extra point of the night as Dilley surged ahead 28-13 with 9:33 remaining.
The Dilley defense then forced a three-and-out on Santa Rosa’s next possession and, after a punt, the Wolves took over at their own 20-yard line.
Poised to put the game away, the Wolves’ offense instead fumbled for the fourth time on the night and the Warriors recovered and returned it to the Dilley nine-yard line.
Santa Rosa would go in from five yards out two plays later to cut the margin to 28-20 with 7:44 to play.
Unable to muster any kind of offense, Dilley had to punt on their next possession and a short punt had Santa Rosa at their own 48-yard line.
A pivotal procedure penalty, however, on the Warriors’ possession would negate a 28-yard pass play. Instead of being at the Dilley 24, Santa Rosa was backed up to their own 44. Following an incompletion, Aiden Gonzalez came on a corner blitz and got the strip sack and Roman Martel recovered the ball at the 30 and went the distance for the touchdown. The extra point attempt would sail wide and Dilley led 34-20.
Dilley’s momentum would be short-lived, however, as the Warriors returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Wolves’ 31.
The Warriors would punch it in six plays later on a short two-yard scoring run with 2:31 to play.
Dilley’s Troy Gonzales would recover the onsides attempt by Santa Rosa. Dilley ran three plays and with 15 seconds remaining, Aranda would keep it on a fake punt and picked up the first down but also bled the clock in the process to secure the Wolves’ win.
Santos led the Dilley offense with 118 yards on 26 carries and a score. Aranda, however, accounted for 194 ‘hidden yards’ and two touchdowns for the Wolves. Coaches refer to hidden yardage as yards and plays that make a difference in the game, but don’t prominently appear in the stat sheet.
Dilley was outgained by Santa Rosa, who finished with 244 total yards and 11 first downs to Dilley’s 173 yards and 13 first downs.
The final stats were skewed, however, as four of the Wolves’ five touchdowns came on plays other than offense.
Although the Wolves lost the turnover battle with four fumbles, the Dilley defense did force a fumble and picked off two passes.
In facing Tidehaven this week, the Wolves will now take on a 10-0 Tigers squad that has shut out seven of its 11 opponents this season and only allowed 20 points all year. Thirteen of those points have come in two of its last three games, a 48-7 rout of Boling and 63-6 decision over Buffalo in the first round last week.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Warrior Stadium at Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi.