SAN ANTONIO — Four turnovers from La Vega in its playoff opener last week against Fredericksburg allowed the game to stay interesting longer than the Pirates would have liked.
There was no intrigue to be found Friday afternoon.
Kemoche Hobbs popped a 43-yard touchdown run on La Vega’s opening drive against Kingsville King, the Pirates defense forced four turnovers and they never looked back in a routine 54-7 Class 4A Division I area-round win at Heroes Stadium.
It was a unique situation, with the early start about three hours away from home, but that didn’t seem to bother the Pirates.
‘That was a concern. It’ll always be a concern,” La Vega coach Willie Williams said. “We had to deal with a little bit of adversity because we didn’t have (offensive line) coach (LeRoy) Coleman here. He’s at home dealing with an illness. Hopefully we’ll get him back, but to play without him on the sideline and get the win was big.”
Hobbs rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on five carries and also had an interception that set up another Pirate score. John Richards just missed a 100-yard day with 95 yards on eight carries and a touchdown, and Cameron Henry and Joshua Bryant also scored on the ground.
“(Hobbs) is huge. He’s been like that his entire career,” Willie Williams said. “He’s one guy that can have an impact on offense and defense.”
The Pirates (12-0), who ran their record to 41-1 over the last three seasons, advance to the regional semifinals against Canyon Lake.
The Pirate passing game didn’t click the way it had recently, but Jamal Williams and Ara Rauls both threw touchdowns passes.
“Jamal missed on some shots, but we made plays when we had to,” Willie Williams said. “We didn’t throw the ball the way we have the last couple weeks, but it’ll come around.”
The La Vega defense gave up 38 total yards in the first half, and it was two turnovers from the Brahmas (7-5) that helped the Pirates put the game away before halftime.
Backup quarterback Matthew Loera threw a pass in the flat that Hobbs jumped and picked off at the King 18. On the next play, Bryant took an end around to the end zone. Starter Omar Navejar was back in on the next series, but he fumbled on a sack and La Vega recovered at the King 15.
It took two plays this time, but the Pirates once again found the end zone when Taequan Tyler turned a wide receiver screen into a 13-yard score and a 35-0 lead with 3:30 to go before halftime. La Vega cashed in its final chance of the first half on an 11-yard Henry run for a 41-0 advantage at the break.
Much of the second half was spent by the Pirates getting freshmen and inexperienced players into the game, but not before Isaiah Terrell scooped up a Navejar pass that was determined to be a lateral and raced 41 yards to paydirt. The La Vega offense struck in the fourth quarter on the freshman-to-freshman connection of Rauls and Ja’Von Iglehart from 26 yards out.
“They came to play,” Willie Williams said. “Those are fighters. That’s a lot of my freshman kids. They haven’t lost a ballgame their entire career, so they’re going to be the next group up.”
Jaylon Gude and Donta Stuart added interceptions in the second half on a pass from Navejar and Loera, respectively, and King didn’t crack the scoreboard until Tarance Carter hauled in a Navejar pass from 28 yards out with 3:35 to go.
All told, the Brahmas connected on 13 of their 33 passes for 120 yards, and their running game was stuffed for 32 yards on 24 tries.