McALLEN — The first half of the season opener between McAllen Rowe and Sharyland Pioneer belonged to the Diamondbacks. After the break, it was all Warriors.
The Diamondbacks fought their way back to land the knockout punch, however, as Pioneer scored a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining to take down Rowe 28-21 on Friday at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Football’s a lot like life and we were faced with a lot of adversity. When you go through adversity, you’re going to find out what your character is made out of,” Pioneer head coach Eddie Galindo said. “They were faced with adversity and they kept pushing, they kept fighting, they kept grinding and good things will happen once you break that door down and get to the other side. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys. They were resilient, they fought, they never gave up and we came out with a victory.”
The Diamondbacks darted out to a 21-0 halftime lead off a 2-yard touchdown run by Julian Valdez, a 28-yard touchdown pass by Valdez to Antonio Carrizales and a 6-yard strike to Diego Chapa.
The Warriors responded in the second half as Elijah Garza connected with Royce Todd on a 13-yard touchdown pass, Mateo Castillo housed a 47-yard reverse and a 7-yard touchdown pass by Garza to Sammy Femat to tie the game at 21 with 4:16 remaining.
“The first game is tough. You do spring ball and you do scrimmages, but nothing’s like game night situations,” Rowe head coach Robert Flores said. “We knew coming in Pioneer and Coach Galindo and those guys do a great job and they were going to come in ready. I think we came a little slow out the gate, but we talked to the kids at halftime, our coaches did a good job of making some adjustments. We came out in the second half and were able to move the ball, run it and we had some great play from our receivers.”
Pioneer pushed the ball into Rowe territory with time winding down when faced with a 4th-and-10 at the 34. Valdez hit Dylan Tijerina on a wheel route down the right sideline for a gain of 18, and a few plays later, the sophomore running back Tijerina found paydirt with a 4-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-21 game with under a minute to play.
“We all worked together and put the pieces together after messing up a few times. The coaches said to trust them and that’s what we did,” Valdez said after throwing for two touchdowns and running for another in the victory.
“They gave me an opportunity and I took that opportunity and made a play,” Tijerina said of his 4th down catch and game-winning touchdown run.
Sharyland Pioneer (1-0) moves on to face Rio Grande City (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Richard Thompson Stadium in Mission.
Rowe (0-1) will look to get in the win column in Week 2 with a matchup against La Joya High (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at La Joya Stadium in La Joya.