Southwest to meet O’Connor in bi-district round
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Southwest.
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Accountability may have been the hidden key to Southwest’s playoff season.
“We made it a priority to focus and leadership,” Dragons coach Peter Wagner said. “We need to do that moving forward. We have a group of kids that are very good leaders.
“They didn’t get rattled and stuck together, even after Carroll kicked that field goal.”
Corpus Christi Carroll (9-1, 4-1) used a 31-yard field goal from Zach Riley with 2:34 remaining to secure a share of first place in District 28-6A. Carroll scored the last 10 points after Southwest (5-5, 3-2) tied the score and won 24-14 decision Friday at Southwest Stadium.
The Tigers took advantage of the breaks it received to surge ahead. The clinching field goal ended a seven-play, 41-yard drive after both defenses had stiffened.
Carroll (9-1, 4-1) and East Central (6-4, 4-1) shared the 28-6A title, but the Hornets attained the district’s No. 1 seed with a 50-49 win over Carroll in the first week of district play.
The Tigers won their four remaining district games.
“That (loss) definitely motivated us,” said Tigers senior Noah Lisk, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter.
“We didn’t want to lose at all. We came back and hit every week harder. It got us to where we are now.”
Southwest had shared first place going into the game after building a three-game winning streak. The Dragons were seeking their first district title since 2009, when they won the 27-5A crown with an undefeated record.
The Dragons finished in third place tie with Corpus Christi King, but won the head-to-head meeting. Southwest will be the district’s No. 3 seed and compete in Division II.
Southwest will play O’Connor next Friday in a 7:30 p.m. bi-district game at Gustafson Stadium.
“They have an extremely tough defense,” Wagner said. “Right up the middIe, they’re very good. They have two very good linebackers and a safety who’s probably going to play in the Big 12.
“They pitched a shutout against Wagner and Steele had to figure out ways to get 10 points.”
The Dragons drove 76 yards off the second half kickoff to tie it 14-14. Jon Cruz (236 yards, 35 carries) scored his second touchdown of the game on a four-yard run.
Southwest committed six penalties in the third quarter, including two that gave Carroll first downs on its go-ahead drive. Lisk (80 yards, 15 attempts) scored on a five-yard run for a 21-14 edge, after the Dragons were penalized half the distance to the goal line.
“Our kids were really excited to play for the district championship,” Wagner said. “Those (penalties) really hurt our drives. That was a big difference. It may go down as a 10-point loss, but it was a lot closer than that.”
Carroll, which led 14-7 at halftime, made the field goal after stopping Southwest on fourth-and-6 at the Tigers 41.
“Coach (Tony Trevino) talked to us at halftime about finishing,” Lisk said. “We all executed and it paid off.”
Corpus Christi Carroll scored first, after partially blocking a.Southwest punt. Tigers quarterback Jesse Jones (111 yards, 19 carries), who ran for 100 yards in the first half, scored on a two-yard run with 3:54 left in the first quarter.
Carroll increased its lead to 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter. Lisk ran 15 yards for the touchdown.
“We haven’t come back from 14 points down before,” Wagner said, “but we came back and got after them.”
On a drive that consumed exactly five minutes, Southwest closed to 14-7 just 44 seconds before halftime. Cruz, who ran for 69 yards on the drive, scored up the middle from one yard out.
“This is a special group of kids,” Wagner said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them for the way they played football tonight.”