PHARR – There were several junctures at which the Cougars, down to their third quarterback and playing on the road against a scrappy, hard-hitting opponent, could have given in. But they didn’t, and will live to fight another day as a result.
After a tense 24-20 overtime victory over P-SJ-A Memorial, North rose to 3-3 in District 31-6A and 4-5 overall, and if it can defeat P-SJ-A this week, will be in the playoffs. The Coogs, who struggled to just 187 total yards of offense while surrendering 316, found a way to get the job done. QB Max Aguilar fired a 31-yard touchdown to Alejandro Cardenas in the third period for a 17-14 lead and though Memorial nailed a late field goal to force OT, the Coogs notched the win on a Cristian Flores run from 2 yards out.
If they lose to the Bears, the Coogs would need help from EHS, after getting a bump from Econ last week. Should the Bobcats (4-2, 5-4 after shutting out Southwest Friday) beat Pharr North, the Raiders would be eliminated after back-to-back losses against the Jaguars and EHS. Should Memorial rise to 3-4 by beating winless Southwest this week, it would lose the head-to-head matchup with the Coogs. A three-way tie between the Raiders, Coogs, and Memorial would knock out Rene Saenz’s team, however.
It was a wild week in town as all four clubs were victorious for the first time all season. A day after the Jags went to 2-4 with a win over the Raiders – Pete Segura continued to shine with a pair of touchdown catches – and Vela humbled the Bears, the ‘Cats and Coogs got into the win column as well.
For North it was a tough night as Flores (35 carries for 86 hard-earned yards) was pounded consistently. Aguilar began the game with a 39-yard gain to Cardenas and on the next snap Flores found the corner on a speedy 21-yard jaunt. But after gaining 60 yards in two plays, North was held to a measly 23 more steps through the half, and trailed 14-10. Frank Cantu, who had a great night punting (a 73-yarder) and with kickoffs (four touchbacks), hammered a 44-yard field goal in the half but the Wolverines took advantage of field position to go ahead. They started at the North 39 and soon took the lead by 4 with 5:30 left.
Aguilar made the excellent throw to Cardenas for six at 10:18 of the third, and the North D – which had stopped Memorial at the Coog 35 and later stunted another drive with a pick from Carlos Coronado – finally bent a bit, allowing a field goal for the 17-17 tie. That Memorial was held to the tying kick was partly due to the inspired play of the North line, led by ends Irvin Juarez and Humberto Martinez. Juarez had 11 tackles, a fumble recovery, and two sacks Friday while Martinez came on strong down the stretch to finish with 10 stops. Juarez and Noah Diaz combined to make the stick and force the field goal, and OT ensued minutes later.
Memorial went first but with Martinez and JoJo Munoz (10 hits, played his heart out) sticking their noses in, the Wolverines had to settle for a 37-yard field goal. North got runs of 8 and 11 from Flores for a first-and-goal at the Memorial 7 but bogged down, Cantu converting the kick for the tie. The biggest moment of the night, though, occurred on the field goal as the Wolverines were called for a roughing the kicker violation. Given new life, North took two snaps to win the game, Flores smashing in to clinch the deal.
NOTES: It looks like No. 1 San Benito for the Coogs should they make it, with EHS taking on Los Fresnos to complete Division I pairings. If things hold that way, Vela (No. 1 in Division II) would get the loser of this week’s Weslaco East-Brownsville Hanna clash, P-SJ-A matching up with the winner.