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The cold, steady rain that fell at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco may have been falling on both sides of the field, but by the end of the first quarter it must have felt colder and wetter to the Harlingen Cardinals than to the Sharyland Rattlers.

Sharyland struck hard and often, scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the opening period of the 5A Division 1 area playoff game last Friday evening. As the evening progressed, so did the lopsided score with Coach Ron Adame’s Rattlers hammering the Cardinals with a 42-2 victory.

Despite the soggy conditions, Sharyland’s potent offense began firing on all cylinders on their second possession when Rattlers’ quarterback Tres Barrera completed a 58-yard pass to Estefan Castillo down to the Cardinals’ five yard line. Two plays later Barrera faked a hand-off to running back Cesar Valdez and followed him into the end zone to make the score 7-0 Sharyland with 7:39 to play in the first quarter.

The Rattlers found the end zone for the second time in the game on their very next possession after a 12-yard Cardinals punt gave Sharyland the ball on Harlingen’s 41 yard line. A 12-yard pass from Barrera to Marco Avila capped off the subsequent drive and gave the Rattlers a 14-0 lead with 3:44 to go in the first quarter.

Sharyland made it three touchdowns scored on three consecutive possessions when Valdez ran the ball in from the one yard line with 24 seconds left in the opening period. The Rattlers’ third scoring drive of the game began after Sean Landez, holder of the record for the longest touchdown scored in football history when he ran a missed field goal back for 109 yards recently, made a nice runback of a Cardinals’ punt to set Barrera and his number one offense in the Valley up with good field position.

With 6:51 remaining in the first half, the Cardinals’ Nathan Prado gave Harlingen fans something to peer out from under their umbrellas and cheer about when he blocked Sharyland’s 35-yard field goal attempt to keep the score at 21-0, Rattlers. After the sometimes unsung Sharyland defense forced yet another Cardinals’ punt, the Rattlers took the ball from their own 27 yard line down to Harlingen’s 37 where on a fourth down and three yards to go Barrera handed the ball to Valdez who eluded Cardinals’ defenders and scored his second touchdown of the game making the score 28-0 Rattlers with 2:23 to go in the first half.

With the score remaining 28-0 at the intermission, Mother Nature provided her own halftime show in the form of a brisk northern wind that began blowing fans’ umbrellas inside out and forced both teams into more conservative play calling in the second half. After a scoreless third quarter, an early fourth quarter fumble recovery by Sharyland allowed the Rattlers to take possession of the ball on Harlingen’s 11 yard line. Shortly thereafter, Valdez scored his third rushing touchdown of the game. Just one game minute later, Valdez scored his fourth, and the game’s final, touchdown of the game on a 39-yard run giving Sharyland a 42-0 lead.

With the outcome of the game no longer in doubt and with the wind-driven rain having long since emptied the stands of all but the most die-hard of fans, the Cardinals finally put points on the scoreboard with 4:07 remaining in the game. A long snap from center slipped through the Sharyland quarterback’s hands and went through the back of the end zone for a safety. This was the only thing that kept Harlingen, a team that had averaged just under 50 points a game this season, from being shut out. Final score: Sharyland 42, Harlingen 2.

As area champions, the Rattlers will be facing the 10-2 San Antonio Madison Mavericks in the regional round of the 5A Division 1 state playoffs tonight at Buccaneer Stadium in Corpus Christi. The Mavericks defeated San Antonio East Central 24-0 in the area round last week and will enter tonight’s game against Sharyland on an eight game winning streak.

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