LORENA — Riding the strong play of linebacker Greg Martinez, Lorena jumped on longtime rival China Spring from the first quarter, using a bend-but-don’t-break mentality defensively to hold off the Cougars 35-21 and spoil first-year Cougar head coach Brian Bell’s debut.

Martinez accumulated four timely sacks and a fumble recovery, helping lead a defense that threw everything but the kitchen sink at China Spring running back Erik Hart in an attempt to slow the senior speedster. But it was his two enormous sacks at the end of the first half that kept the momentum on Lorena’s side.

Leading 21-7 with under two minutes until halftime, Martinez sacked China Spring freshman quarterback Brayden Faulkner twice in three plays, including a bell-ringer on fourth-and-seven with just seconds to go in the second quarter, keeping the Cougars out of the end zone.

Lorena head coach Ray Biles loved what he saw out of his senior playmaker.

“Greg is a tremendously quick athlete,” he said. “We were able to play him off the edge a couple of times and fortunately he was able to get free.”

In a rematch from last year’s 35-7 whipping at the hands of China Spring, the teams traded turnovers to start the game, one a Greg Martinez (surprise, surprise) fumble recovery. But Lorena, losers in the area round of the playoffs last season, struck first, as running back AJ Bell busted a 55-yard run down the sideline to put the Leopards up 7-0.

A quick three-and-out for China Spring gave Lorena the ball at their own 40, prompting the most entertaining play of the game.

Lorena quarterback Bradley Lina squirted up the middle for a big gain to the China Spring 18, only to see the ball punched out of his hands and bounce forward towards the Leopard end zone. After a few Cougars whiffed, Lorena’s Hunter Hunter Hudgens fell on the ball for the Leopard touchdown.