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PEARSALL MAVERICKS FOOTBALL
WARHORSES RALLY LATE TO TOPPLE PEARSALL FOR 14-4A, DII TITLE; MAVS STILL CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH
A long kick return set up Devine’s game-winning touchdown and the Warhorses then held Pearsall on a fourth down attempt to escape with a 29-22 victory and clinch the District 14-4A, Division II title last Friday at Mack Laxson Field.
Pearsall had the 16th state-ranked Warhorses on the ropes for much of the night, leading 14-7 at halftime, had the game tied late in the third quarter and led with less than four minutes to play, but could not finish. Devine was ranked 16th in state in Class 4A according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football entering Friday’s contest.
“It was a good game for the boys, even though it did not go our way at the end,” PHS Head Football Coach Ruben DeLeon said of the team’s effort. “I’m proud of how they played all four quarters and did not back down from Devine on both sides of the ball.
“I hope we can build off of that game and finish the regular season with the win against YMLA; like I told the boys, this is the biggest game of the season with big playoff implications.”
Devine came out roaring to open the game, quickly moving down the field to score the first points of the night. Gabriel Esquibel capped the drive with a two-yard score as the Warhorses went up 7-0. After forcing a Pearsall punt, Devine moved back down the field once more, threatening to pull away early but the Mavs picked off an errant pass in the endzone to kill the drive.
The Maverick offense then moved down the field, capping the drive with an Elijah Luna two-yard touchdown run. Luna also went in on the conversion attempt as the Mavs took an 8-7 lead with 5:29 to play in the first half.
Pearsall’s special teams then recovered a fumble following a pooch kick, taking over at the Devine 44 on the kickoff.
The team wasted little time moving down the field and capped that possession with a seven-yard strike to Andy Enriquez in the endzone. The conversion attempt failed this time and Pearsall led 14-7 with 2:16 in the half.
The Maverick defense came up big once more before the half as they knocked down several pass attempts in the endzone and stopped a Devine drive at the Pearsall 29 with :47 seconds before intermission.
Each team had a pair of lengthy drives that came up empty in the third before the Warhorses tied the game on a 32-yard screen pass late in the period.
Following an interception, Devine was back in business at midfield and scored on a three-yard run by Esquibel to take the lead 21-14 with :40 to play in the third. The score was set up by a long Ethan Santos run to the five after the Maverick defense forced the Warhorses into a second and 24 situation.
Pearsall countered midway through the fourth as Joey Ramirez went in from three yards out. Luna again went in on the conversion attempt and the Mavericks pulled back ahead 22-21 with 6:29 remaining.
Devine would take then ensuing kickoff and return it to the Maverick 39-yard line. The Warhorses then bled neary four minutes off the clock before Ethan Santos scored on a three-yard run with 3:45 to play.
Pearsall’s final drive ended on fourth and two as the team did not convert and Devine bled the clock to secure the win.
In a defensive struggle, Pearsall finished with 241 yards of offense and 11 first downs while Devine tallied 328 yards of offense and 17 first downs. The Mavericks held Devine to their lowest point total of the season and well below their season average of 461 yards of offense per game this season.
Ramirez led the offense with 78 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. He has now rushed for 1,349 yards and 20 touchdowns. Luna added 51 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Matt Hughes totaled 50 yards of total offense and had a touchdown and one interception. Kingston Martinez added three carries for 30 yards and Tristan Ellis carried twice for 23 yards.
Despite the loss, the Mavericks clinched a playoff berth after Bandera defeated San Antonio Young Mens Leadership Academy. That win forced no better than a possible tie that YMLA and Pearsall would own a any tiebreaker over Carrizo Springs for the third and fourth playoff spots.
Friday’s regular season finale between Pearsall and YMLA will be a battle for seeding in the postseason.
“The winner of the game gets the three seed and of course the loser will be the fourth seed,” Coach DeLeon said. “For the playoffs we just want to be on the bracket and continue to play this season. We do not have a preference on who we play, we will coach up our boys to the best of our ability and have them prepared if it is Wimberley or Navarro.”
Friday’s contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. at San Antonio’s SAISD Sports Complex.