By Pat Turner
Playing Thanksgiving Week was enjoyable for Brandeis to say the least.
Because of Friday’s Class 6A Division II area playoff win over Steele, the Broncos are now getting the chance to have fun playing during the holiday season.
The Broncos hope to have plenty of good tidings, beginning with Saturday’s regional contest against Brownsville Hannah at noon in the Alamodome.
Brandeis had its share of good times against Steele as the Broncos ball-control offense and a stout defense came up big throughout the night.
“This is a lot of fun to keep playing,” said Brandeis quarterback Jordan Battles, who passed for 116 yards and a touchdown while also adding 116 rushing yards with two TDs. “We’re clicking on all cylinders right now. We’re working hard in practice.”
“This was a big win,” said tight end Oscar Cardenas, who has verbally committed to play football at UTSA. “This is awesome. This a blessing to be here. We worked hard to get here. We were able to execute on offense and defense. Execution is the key word.”
Brandeis began its take-charge approach by scoring on its first two possessions that covered 70 and 80 yards. Between those heroics, the Broncos’ defense, led by swift play from Brent Malone, Kristopher Garza, Justin Lipe, Mark Lara, Jalen Rainey, Cameron Ley, Kaine Buchanan, Frank Wilson IV and Aiden Inesta-Rodriguez stopped Steele twice on downs. Buchanan foiled another possession with an interception toward the end of the half.
Stopping Steele’s first two drives set the tone.
On the first possession, Brandeis’ ground game went on a 79-yard trek as Battles, J. Nova Rangel and Cristian Medina gobbled up nearly seven minutes of the opening quarter.
The Broncos had plenty of running space with the blocking of tight end Oscar Cardenas, Angel Lopez, Thomas Mati, Alec Martinez, Luis Sosa and Avee Brar.
After getting to the 1, Brandeis had to work extra hard for that final yard. Steele halted the Broncos on the first three attempts, but Rangel scooted into the end zone on the fourth try for a 7-0 lead.
After stopping Steele at the Brandeis 24, the Broncos began their 80-yard scoring march with a combo of running and Battles’ pass to Josh Suarez and Cardenas. Brent Malone capped the drive with a 2-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
“All week we talked about starting fast,” Buchanan said. “Stopping (Steele) early was a big confidence boost. We focused.”
Things got a little uneasy for Brandeis at the beginning of the second half. Steele booted a field goal on its first possession. Seconds later, a Broncos fumble set up Richard Collins’ 13-yard touchdown run, bringing the Knights within 14-10.
Brandeis braved the storm.
A big lift came when Rainey recovered a fumble at Steele’s 43. Battles followed through with his running heroics, scoring on a 4-yard run for a 21-10 lead.
After being caught off guard by Brandeis’ onside kick, the Knights survived the ordeal with an interception. Wyatt Begeal then hurled a 55-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Jackson.
Minutes later, Steele was pushing its way for the go-ahead touchdown, but once again the Broncos made something happen when Malone stepped in front of a Steele pass in the end zone. A crowning blow followed when Battles sent an 80-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pake.
A little insurance also came Brandeis’ way. Steele bobbled the ensuing kick and Xavier Lopez kicked a 44-yard field goal to wrap up the victory.
“We kept playing harder,” Battles said. “We had to fight for each other. I fought for my brothers. We have worked all week to prepare for this. It was very cool making plays.”
With a second playoff win tucked away, the Broncos now look to round three.
Hannah (10-1) advanced with a 28-13 victory over Eagle Pass. The Eagles have relied on a balanced offense headed by quarterback Victor Campos (1,556 yards, 16 touchdowns) and running back Cesar Macias (1,200 yards, 12 touchdowns).
The Broncos appear to be ready for whatever comes their way.
“They make plays,” Brandeis coach David Branscom said. “They never get too down. They just go to work. We’re playing as a team. We enjoyed playing here. We want to build a program and make the Alamodome our second home.”
For images from the game log onto https://echosportszone.pixieset.com/