The Uvalde Coyotes did not win their football game Friday night, but they did not disappoint their fans.
Despite being 15-point underdogs, the Coyotes battled the Lockhart Lions from start to finish in a red-hot 45-41 thriller played on a cold night in Lockhart’s Lions Stadium.
“I am so proud of the Coyotes. They overcame so much adversity tonight,” said Uvalde High School head football coach R.T. Gonzales.
“These kids came so close to winning. They played so well. It hurts to lose this game,” said Gonzales. “Our kids gave it everything they had. That’s what being a Uvalde Coyote is all about. Rising to the occasion, playing hard, and giving it everything you’ve got.”
The Coyotes, who held the scoring lead six times in the contest, got off to an early 7-0 lead when wide receiver Christian Rivera caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Donovan Davila.
Lockhart rallied to tie the score on a 52-yard touchdown sprint by running back Daetron Ellison.
The Coyotes regained the scoring lead when Christian Rivera caught an eight-yard pass from Donovan Davila.
Place kicker Miller Carnes made his second conversion kick and the Coyotes went up 14-7 with 5:34 left in the first period.
The second possession for the Lions ended inside the Uvalde five-yard line when linebacker Joel Valdez covered a Lockhart fumble.
Early in the second period, the Coyotes stopped a Lockhart drive and forced the Lions to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Alfredo Jaimes-Jaimes.
Less than a minute later, Donovan Davila linked up with Christian Rivera for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
Miller Carnes added the conversion kick and the Coyotes extended their scoring lead to 21-10 with 8:38 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Robert Branch made an 85-yard touchdown return.
Three plays later, the Coyotes punted the ball on fourth down.
Daetron Ellison returned the punt 60 yards for a Lockhart touchdown.
Down 24-21, the Coyotes came back to take the scoring lead when running back Sotero Martinez Jr. scored on a two-yard touchdown run.
Martinez’s touchdown was set up by a 40-yard shovel pass from Donovan Davila to running back Ryan De La Cruz.
Lockhart regained the scoring lead on a 48-yard touchdown rush by running back Jordan Garcia.
Down 31-27, the Coyotes put together an eight-play, 53-yard drive that ended on a two-yard touchdown run by Sotero Martinez Jr.
Miller Carnes made the conversion kick and the Coyotes left the field at halftime with a 34-31 advantage.
The Lions opened the second half with a drive that went from their 43-yard line to the Uvalde 14.
Uvalde’s defense stopped the drive and the Lions pooch-kicked a punt on fourth down.
The Coyotes were unsuccessful on three pass plays and punted the ball on fourth down.
The Lions put together a five-play touchdown drive that was capped by Daetron Ellison’s one-yard run on fourth down.
Behind by a score of 38-34, the Coyotes had a third-and-seven situation at their 40-yard line.
On the third-down play, Donovan Davila and Christian Rivera combined efforts for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
Rivera caught the pass at the Lockhart 25-yard line and sprinted the rest of the way to the end zone.
On the second play of the fourth period, Lockhart faced a third-and-five play at the Uvalde 20-yard line.
They went to the air, but Jackie Edward Jr.’s pass was intercepted by safety Ryan De La Cruz.
Three plays and a punt later, the Lions gained the ball at their 31-yard line.
Five plays later, Daetron Ellison scored on a 41-yard touchdown run.
Down 45-41, the Coyotes attempted to make a comeback. They advanced the ball from their 19-yard line to near midfield.
What turned out to be the pivotal play of the game came at the 5:59 mark of the period when defensive back Caleb Jennings intercepted a Uvalde pass at the Lockhart 47-yard line.
Up by four points, the Lions went to work on the game clock as they used the blocking of their massive offensive line and converted on three first down plays to grind out the remaining time.