Photo by Steven Cottingham – EP Herald Post
El Paso, TX — As Ysleta and Hanks were getting ready for their matchup, there were two known facts: both teams had excellent quarterbacks who could do it in the air and the ground, and Ysleta would clinch a playoff spot with a win. The Knights came in desperately knowing that they had to win their final two games to have a shot at getting into the playoffs, but had no guarantees. They played like a team determined to get into the playoffs and leave nothing to chance.
Hanks kicked the scoring off with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Mykal Blanco. The Indians would quickly answer with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Josiah Salazar to Giovanni Martinez to make the score 7-7. Aaron Molina would find Blanco on Hanks’ ensuing drive on 34-yard score pass to put the Knights back up, 13-7. Salazar would find Lucas Flores for 12 yards and tie the game up at 13-13. In the second quarter, Hanks would go up for good when Aaron Molina would take for a 28-yard scoring run to make it 19-13. That would be followed by a 38-yard scoring run by Ivan Regalado to make the halftime score 25-13. The final two scores would be set up by a fumble recovery and interception by the Hanks defense.
The Knights defense would pick off Salazar a second time to start the second half that would lead to Molina finding Blanco for a 42-yard score that would make it 31-13. Ysleta would get on the board one last time with an eight-yard jet sweep by Flores to get within 31-20. However, two more interceptions by Salazar would set up two more touchdown passes of 15 yards and 18 yards from Molina to Blanco to seal the 44-20 victory for the Hanks Knights.
The Hanks defense came into the game having only forced four takeaways all year long before forcing the Ysleta into five takeaways to help set up the big victory for the Knights. Both quarterbacks had strong passing days; Salazar passed for 244 yards for Ysleta and Molina had 254 yards for Hanks. Our Casa Nissan Player of the Game was Mykal Blanco who ended his day with 192 receiving yards on nine catches and four receiving along with another score on the 85-yard opening kickoff return.
Hanks improves to 4-5 overall, 1-3 in Division II District 1-5A play. Ysleta drops to 7-2 overall, 2-2 in district play. The Knights host the Riverside Rangers next week, as the Indians close out the regular season by traveling to Horizon.
Sergio Robali – reporting