CORPUS CHRISTI — Three plays was all it took for the McAllen Memorial to get on the board Saturday, sparking a 28-point first half as the Mustangs cruised to a dominating 42-20 victory over the San Antonio Lanier Voks during a Region IV-5A DI area-round matchup Saturday at Cabaniss Stadium.

The Mustangs (11-1) punched their ticket to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2011, taking on the Corpus Christi Veterans Eagles (11-1) at 3 p.m. Friday at Buccaneer Stadium in Corpus Christi.

McAllen Memorial running back Marcos De La Cruz continued his recent hot streak, rushing for over 100 yards for a sixth straight contest. De La Cruz opened the scoring for the Mustangs, breaking free for a 66-yard touchdown on third play of the game.

De La Cruz finished with a game-high 133 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, while junior fullback Max Alaniz-Choy added 102 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries.

McAllen Memorial’s Marcos De la Cruz (3) gives ball carrier Max Alaniz-Choy (23) a push to break free against the San Antonio Lanier defense during a Region IV-5A DI area round playoff game Friday at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“We’re just excited to represent the 956, most definitely, and get a win with my team,” De La Cruz said. “I couldn’t do it without my linemen. They did everything for me today. The holes can’t get any bigger for me with that O-line. I just run. Coach trusts me to hold on to the ball, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Defensively, the Mustangs stifled the Voks’ offense during the first half, holding them to 37 yards of offense and one first down.

The Mustangs’ offense capitalized on the defense’s effort, scoring on four of five drives during the first quarter to take a 28-0 lead into the break.

The McAllen Memorial offense racked up 414 yards, including 314 yards on the ground, while the defense held the Voks to only 218 yards, most coming during the fourth quarter with the game in hand.

“We knew they were going to give us a bunch of different formations and different looks,” McAllen Memorial head coach Moses Patterson said. “I think it was somewhat of a mirror image of what we see week in and week out from ourselves. We had a challenge for our defense to shut them down. For the most part we did, letting up a little at the end. Overall, we did a great job defensively.”

McAllen Memorial running back Ethan Castillo (26) stiff arms a San Antonio Lanier defender during a Region IV-5A DI area round playoff game Saturday at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

After a pair of touchdowns by the Voks during the fourth quarter to cut into the lead, the Mustangs answered with a five-play, 52-yard drive, capped off by a 22-yard touchdown scamper by De La Cruz to seal the victory and punch McAllen Memorial’s ticket to the Region IV-5A DI regional semifinals.

McAllen Memorial wide receiver Marcos De la Cruz (3) carries the ball against San Antonio Lanier during a Region IV-5A DI area round playoff game Saturday at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“It’s great to be back,” Patterson said. “The kids have done just a great job of moving forward and looking at the journey we have for us. It’s special. Just special times right now. There is nothing like being able to practice over Thanksgiving break. Hopefully we can put a good plan together and maybe get to that next round.”

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