Like all things COVID-19, the first game in the 3A-Division football season didn’t go as planned for the Sonora Broncos. The Sonora varsity squad played Ozona in their season opener Friday night, August 28, 2020, in Ozona. The final score was 15-8 Ozona.

Sonora’s loss ended a 10-year hold over their I-10 rival.

The last time the Lion’s defeated the Broncos was in 2010 when they pulled off a 31-28 win over Sonora. Adding to the celebration, Friday’s win was also the first for Jarryd Taylor, also an Ozona graduate, as head coach for the Lions.

Sonora’s Head Coach Kevin Sherrill said obviously the loss was disappointing and it showed that the Broncos still have some work to do if they are going to be successful this season.

“It was a tough loss,” Sherrill said. “I felt as though our kids played hard. The two teams were very evenly matched. I felt like we had some opportunities to make plays and maybe would just miss a cut here and there.

Overall, errors and penalties, 7 at a cost of 45 yards total, kept them from taking home the win.

In the first quarter, both teams appeared to be ready for the match. However, neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard. It was 0-0 when they changed sides of the field to open the second quarter.

This time it didn’t take long for the Lions to find their footing. Ozona took the initial lead when Jose Dominguez scored from 4 yards out at 9:14 on the clock. The PAT was good and the Lion’s moved ahead of the Broncos 7-0.

In response, Sonora’s Preston Gonzalez returned the kickoff and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown at the 9:01 mark.

Gonzalez also ran in the two points to ensure the Broncos a one-point advantage over the Lions as they headed to the locker rooms for half time.

The third quarter was unremarkable. However, the fourth quarter was a game changer for Ozona.

It looked like Sonora would hold on to its decade long success over Ozona until Jesse Vega scored from one yard out with only 1:15 left in the fourth quarter. Vega’s pass to Kolton Thompson for the 2-point conversion was also good and Ozona took a healthy 15-8 lead over Sonora.

Sonora had one more possession but couldn’t out muscle Ozona’s defense before the clock expired.

The Lion’s celebrated their long-awaited victory over the Broncos.

Despite the efforts of Sonora’s Nate Gensler and Gonzalez, Sonora’s offense lacked the assurance it needed to put more points on the board.
The Broncos had a total of 80 yards rushing on 45 attempts. compared to Ozona’s 105 yards on 24 attempts. That is an average of 1.8 yards versus 4.4 yards.

Gensler led the Broncos in rushing with 35 yards on 13 carries and 2.7 yards average. Gensler also had 12 yards on 2 receptions for an average of 6 yards.

Following close behind, Gonzales, a senior, had 26 yards rushing on 17 carries and 1.5 yards average.

Also, Kale Sherrill completed a total of 12 yards passing.

In total, Sonora had 92 yards on 53 plays for an average 1.7 yards per play. Ozona had 108 yards on 33 plays and averaged 3.3 yards per play.
Sherrill said it just wasn’t their night to shine.

“We really surprised Ozona with a reverse call, but what could have been a big gain was only 7 or 8 yards because our back lost his footing on a cut, Sherrill said. “I feel like that was the story of the night for our offense, just being right on the cusp of getting it going but not quite finding a way.”

Aside from making their own mistakes, the Broncos seemed to also get the short end of the stick on a few calls by the officials as well.
Sherrill said a post-game review of the film showed that there was not an infraction on the part of the Broncos despite a call on a jail screen. Nevertheless, they suffered the penalty.

“The jail screen that was called back was big for us,” Sherrill said. “That would have set us up inside the Ozona 5-yard line. So, that was a big call that went against us.”

If it hadn’t been for the defense, the outcome would have been worse. Sherrill said while he was pleased with the effort, they will work harder in the coming weeks.

“I felt like our defense played very well. They kept us in the game. We are going to build on our defense going into this week,” Sherrill added.

On Thursday, Sonora’s junior varsity squad celebrated their first win on the season with a 6-0 defeat over Ozona.

Next, Sonora (0-1) will host Llano (1-0) this Friday, September 4, at Bronco Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets defeated Gatesville 45-16 in week 1. As the Broncos head to practice this week, they will be focused on improving the offense and strengthening the defense, according to Sherrill.

Both teams will be looking for a win. Everyone is encouraged to come out to the stadium, fill the stands and cheer for the Broncos. Remember to wear a mask and stay safe.