McALLEN — The No. 3-ranked Edinburg Vela SaberCats scored 14 straight fourth quarter points to take down the McAllen Memorial Mustangs 31-27 in a back-and-forth Game of the Week on Friday at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The SaberCats (4-0) start District 15-5A DI competition at 1-0, while the Mustangs (2-2) fall to 0-1 in league play.

Down 27-17 with 10 minutes remaining, Edinburg Vela took advantage of a lucky bounce as tight end Noah Rocha recovered a SaberCats fumble and rumbled into the end zone to slice into the lead. After the Vela defense forced a Memorial punt, athlete Bernabe Gonzalez took over and scored the game-winner on a 29-yard run. He had a chance to pad his stats and score another touchdown with time winding late but elected to go down at the Memorial 1-yard line to ensure the Vela victory.

“I want to thank my team, my O-line. I did it for my boy Cyrus (Golat), he’s in the hospital. This was for him,” Gonzalez said. “I’m here for the team. That’s all I do it for.”

“Hats off to the kids. There was a moment there where we were thinking this could get a little bit ugly, but we stuck to it and came out with the win,” Edinburg Vela head coach John Campbell said.

After Vela rolled over Memorial 63-0 at home last season, the Mustangs played like a much improved team and gave the SaberCats everything they could handle. Sophomore quarterback Kane Coy accounted for two first half touchdowns — the first a 73-yard bomb to Dylan Goodson and the second on a 31-yard scramble.

McAllen Memorial’s Kane Coy, right, bursts up the middle against Edinburg Velas defender Gerardo Carr, left, during a District 15-5A DI football game at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium Friday September 15, 2023 in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

The SaberCats answered with a touchdown run by Jamal Polley and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Myles Lopez to Jaxson Shupe to make it 14-14 at the half.

The Mustangs seized momentum during the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth as JP Garza scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap off a 10-play, 98-yard drive. Coy followed it up with his second touchdown pass of the night on a heads play to Goodson down the left sideline for 27-yards.

Vela’s defense answered the call during the fourth quarter by forcing a punt and a turnover on downs to end the game.

Edinburg Vela’s Jaxson Shupe, right, runs past McAllen Memorial’s Daniel De La Cruz, left, during a District 15-5A DI football game at McAllen Veterans Memorial StadiumFriday September 15, 2023 in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Polley led the SaberCats with 90 rushing yards and a score. Lopez finished 7-for-13 for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Memorial’s Coy had a bit of a breakout game in the loss with 8-for-13 passing for 171 yards and 77 yards rushing. Sebastian Aleman led the Mustangs with 103 rushing yards, while Dylan Goodson caught five passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

McAllen Memorial’s Dylan Goodson, right, with a catch and run for a touchdown in front ofEdinburg Vela’s defender Derek Rodriguez, left, during a football game at McAllen Veterans Memorial stadium Friday September 15, 2023 in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Next for the SaberCats is a marquee matchup against No. 1 PSJA North (4-0, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Richard Flores Stadium in Edinburg. Meanwhile, the Mustangs move on to face La Joya Palmview (2-2, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday at La Joya Stadium in La Joya.

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