EDINBURG — A four-game losing streak during District 31-6A competition earlier this year turned the final three weeks of Edinburg North’s regular season into must-win games in order to qualify for the playoffs.

The Cougars have checked two wins off that list after defeating fellow playoff hopeful PSJA High 28-7 on Friday night at Richard R. Flores Stadium.

“It was a repetition of what we did last week,” Edinburg North head coach Damian Gonzalez said, referring to a 20-12 Week 9 win over crosstown rival Edinburg High. “The guys came out and executed. Offensively, we set the tone and ran the ball effectively.”

Edinburg North (4-5, 3-4) lit the Bears’ defense up for four first-half touchdowns to take a commanding 28-0 lead into the locker room.

Edinburg North quarterback Evan Medrano tossed three first-half touchdowns to three different receivers — Jaycen Rosales, Jean Carlo Reyes and Yahir Rodriguez — and scored on the ground from 2 yards.

The workhorse for the Cougars, however, was junior running back Mark Hernandez. The junior ball-carrier broke through the Bears’ defense repeatedly to the tune of 21 carries for 179 yards.

“Mark ran the ball extremely well. This week we knew we wanted to go forward and that’s what we did, and he did a tremendous job for us,” Gonzalez said.

Edinburg North’s Mark Hernandez (7) is grabbed by the jersey by PSJA High defender Isaac Sanchez (44) in the first half of a football game at Richard R. Flores Stadium on Friday, Oct.29,2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

PSJA High drove deep into Edinburg North territory on its first three possessions of the game, but came away with 0 points after a punt, fumble and missed field goal. PSJA High’s only points came on a pick-six by defensive back Nevin Herrera to start the second half.

The Cougars held the Bears to 285 yards of total offense, nearly 100 yards shy of their season average of 371.5.

“I was a little worried because these guys had been putting up some points, and Coach (Lupe) Rodriguez does a tremendous job of preparing a team,” Gonzalez said. “We knew they were going to throw the ball, but we’re back healthy defensively and our kids really bought into what we were trying to do. The kids executed to perfection tonight. They really buckled down and really shut the door when we needed them to.”

Senior interior lineman Trebor Acuna and the Cougars’ defense set the tone early by putting pressure on PSJA’s Jaime Lopez. Acuna came up with two sacks and multiple hurries to keep the Bears’ offense out of sync.

“We bent but didn’t break. We just came out here and shut them out defensively,” Acuna said. “We’re doing a good job, and we’re going to keep up this momentum.”

PSJA High’s Jaime Lopez (7) is sacked in the back field by Edinburg North’s Sam Cerda (33) in the first half of a football game at Richard R. Flores Stadium on Friday, Oct.29,2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

Edinburg North faces one final must-win scenario during the regular season finale against La Joya Juarez-Lincoln (0-9, 0-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at La Joya ISD Stadium.

While the Cougars’ attention lies on Juarez-Lincoln, they’ll keep an eye on the Week 11 matchup between Edinburg High (4-5, 4-3) and PSJA High. If the Bobcats beat the Bears, Edinburg High clinches District 31-6A’s No. 4 seed. If the Bears defeat the Bobcats, Edinburg North will claim the No. 4 seed as they’ve recorded wins over both Edinburg High and PSJA High.

“We’ve beat Pharr and we’ve beat EHS, so if Pharr beats EHS next week we’re in. Unfortunately we’ll be rooting against our own Edinburg school, but it is what it is,” Gonzalez said. “Both teams are really good and they’re going to put on a good show. Any one of the three teams that gets in is going to play extremely well in the playoffs, so hopefully it’s us, because I think we’re peaking at the right time.”

Kickoff between Edinburg High at PSJA High is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at PSJA Stadium in Pharr.

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