PLEASANTON—Late in its district opener Friday against Rockport-Fulton, the Pleasanton football team faced a situation it hadn’t dealt with all year: the Eagles trailed.
Pleasanton—which had 3 second-half yards entering the possession—drove 85 yards for the go-ahead score, a 1-yard option keeper by quarterback Johnny Zamora with 1:45 remaining in the game.
The Eagles defense held off the Pirates on the final drive for a 17-14 win at Eagle Stadium after time expired with R-F at the Pleasanton 37.
“We had to get in the end zone,” Zamora said. “We’ve practiced the two-minute drill in practice, so it wasn’t very new to us. It was a different situation, but it was the same aspect. I just have so much faith in these guys here.”
The Pirates took over with 1:40 to go but managed only 20 yards before the game ended.
“Everybody stepped up,” said senior linebacker Juan Ramirez, who forced two fumbles. “We did a heck of a good job. Everybody stuck together, no matter what. This whole season we’ve talked about finishing, and that’s what we did. It was a four-quarter game.”
The dramatic victory kept the Eagles (6-0, 1-0 district) undefeated. It is Pleasanton’s best start since 2013, when the Eagles won their first six games and finished 9-2.
“[The team] has bought in to our program and what we believe,” Eagles coach Stephen Liska said. “We’ve got playmakers, yes, but they are team players, and that’s the difference…Our playmakers came through when we needed them, and that’s what counts.”
Pleasanton converted a fourth-and-14 at the Pirates’ 26 with under three minutes left to keep its last drive alive.
Zamora, who went 8-for-15 passing for 187 yards, hit Jordan Bosquez for a 19-yard gain. The junior quarterback followed with consecutive runs to put the Eagles on top.
“I was just trying to beat my guy,” Bosquez said. “[Zamora] is going to put it in a spot where I know I can go get it, so I just have to do my job and go get it.”
“We were trying to get the ball to J-Smooth,” Liska said. “That was the best play we could dial up…That play was open a couple times early in the game and their corner made a good play on it. That time, Jordan went to the ground for it. That’s just the competitor that he is.”
R-F put Pleasanton in its first deficit of the season following a 13-play TD drive in the fourth quarter. Senior Zach Weems found the edge on a 7-yard score to give the Pirates a 14-10 edge with 5:36 to play. Weems had a game-high 64 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
R-F controlled time of possession with its Slot-T offense, which kept the Pleasanton defense on the field for over 33 minutes. The Pirates, who had five players with at least 10 carries and 46 rushing yards, racked up all 282 yards of their offense with their ground game.
R-F used a textbook, 16-play possession to get on the board just before halftime. After the Eagles scored the first 10 points of the game, the Pirates answered with a 69-yard drive that took 8:14 off the clock. R-F quarterback Will Smith snuck it in from 1-yard out to pull the Pirates within 10-7 with 31 seconds before the break.
“Coach [Jay] Seibert is a heck of a guy,” Liska said. “He’s got a great program there in Rockport. The adversity that they’ve had to overcome this year, that’s a credit to him and his coaches. Those kids are obviously battlers and fighters. They didn’t give up either.”
Pleasanton, which was outgained by 88 yards, took advantage of three lost fumbles by R-F. The first turnover set up a 35-yard TD catch by Dalton Hobbs late in the opening quarter.
After driving to the Eagles’ 12, Smith lost a fumble on an exchange in the backfield. Five plays later, Zamora connected with Hobbs on a fly route.
“I knew I could beat my man,” said Hobbs, who has seven TDs on the year. “I had faith Johnny could throw the ball, and I went up and got it.”
Pirates defensive lineman Gerardo Martinez had three sacks, and R-F limited Pleasanton to 7 rushing yards. The Eagles struggled running the ball without leading-rusher Austin Renner, who did not play.
Pleasanton will continue District 15-4A Division I action Friday on the road at Robstown.
The Cotton Pickers (0-6, 0-1) lost 30-6 to La Vernia at home last week.
“When we get under the lights and in between the lines, something special happens with this group. They just turn it on.”