LAREDO, Texas — The last time Laredo United took the field, the Longhorns put up a season-high 49 points in a shootout loss to Harlingen.
In that back-and-forth battle during Week 5, a slow start offensively hampered the Longhorns, whose dramatic comeback bid came up short against the Cardinals.
Laredo United’s high-powered offense caught fire Thursday night, though.
The Longhorns' big night offensively helped them build a first-half advantage that they preserved with timely defense during the second half to pick up a 35-25 victory over rival Laredo United South on Thursday at the Bill Johnson Student Activity Center.
Laredo United's victory over the Panthers in the District 30-6A opener for both teams also represents the Longhorns' first win against United South since 2020.
United owns a 6-4 edge against Laredo United South during the past decade of their rivalry series.
Four different Longhorns got into the scoring act and were led by Christian “The Slim Reaper” Saldana who finished two touchdowns in the victory.
Mario Gomez, Atzel Chavez Jr., and Ramon Chavez each added a touchdown apiece for Laredo United as well in the victory.
Gomez scored first Laredo United’s opening possession after the Longhorns drove the ball downfield all the way to United South's 3-yard line. He lined up in the backfield, took a handoff from Chavez and rammed his way past the goal line for a short touchdown run to make it 7-0 Longhorns early in the game.
Laredo United South responded on the ensuing kickoff, as Carlos Segovia ran the ball back 65 yards to put the Panthers in scoring position to begin their first drive of the night.
Six plays later, United South junior quarterback Luis Cisneros quarterback punched it into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run to get the Panthers on the board. The Longhorns blocked the following extra-point attempt to preserve their 7-6 edge with 2:02 left during the opening quarter.
The Panthers' defense held its ground on the next series, which helped set up United South's offense for another early score.
Laredo United South seized its first lead of the night on its next offensive possession, when Cisneros heaved a deep pass downfield to senior David Diaz for a 74-yard touchdown catch that gave the Panthers a 13-7 advantage to start the second quarter.
The Longhorns answered United South's back-to-back touchdowns early in the first half with four straight trips to the end zone during a high-flying second quarter.
Saldana, who has built a reputation around his elite playing-making ability, put together another great performance to lead the Longhorns' through the air. He sparked the Longhorn's first-half rally with a 55-yard touchdown reception, as Chavez caught him in full stride to help Laredo United reclaim a 14-13 lead during the early stages of the second quarter.
The Longhorns utilized that momentum-shifting moment as a spring board and 6 minutes later, Chavez propelled his team back into the end zone.
Chavez scrambled and squeezed his way through Laredo United South's defense on an 8-yard touchdown run to boost the Longhorns' lead to 21-13.
Laredo United's defense set up the team's next score. Junior defensive back Derrick Gonzalez intercepted a pass from Cisneros to stop another Panthers' drive with halftime quickly approaching.
After Gonzalez's interception, Chavez connected with Saldana again on a 41-yard touchdown pass, which gave Laredo United a 28-13 halftime lead at the half.
The 30-minute halftime break did little to slow down Laredo United, though.
Senior running back Juan Reyes broke loose for a 45-yard run to set up another Longhorns' touchdown, the team's only points of the second half.
Chavez threw his third touchdown pass of the night to senior wide receiver Ramon Chavez, who hauled it in for a 15-yard touchdown catch to extend Laredo United’s lead to 35-13 by the end of the third quarter.
The Longhorns' QB accounted for four of his team's five touchdowns on the night, finishing with almost 180 yards and three passing TDs to go with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown run too.
Laredo United South found some momentum during the fourth quarter, as senior running back Brandon Benavides found a seem through the Longhorns' defense and scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to cut Laredo United's lead to 35-19 after a botched two-point conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers continued to press on, desperately trying to climb back into the game with the clock acting as their worst enemy.
Laredo United South’s TNT defense picked off a Chavez pass with 6:38 remaining during the fourth quarter. The Panthers added one more late score on a 9-yard touchdown pass by Cisneros following the interception, but it was not enough to help United South finish chipping away at the Longhorns' late lead.
Laredo United (2-4, 1-0) will look to keep rolling when the Longhorns return to the gridiron for another District 30-6A clash next week against the Eagle Pass Eagles (5-0, 0-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at Cozel Foster Veterans Memorial Stadium in Eagle Pass.
Laredo United South (1-5, 0-1) is also set to continue district play in 30-6A next week when the Panthers travel to faces the Del Rio Rams (0-5, 0-0) at the same time Friday, Oct. 14, at Walter Levermann Stadium in Del Rio.
Check out SBLive's exclusive photo gallery from the game:
PHOTO GALLERY — LAREDO UNITED 35, LAREDO UNITED SOUTH 25
All photos by Clara Sandoval