EDINBURG — The Edinburg North Cougars and Edinburg High Bobcats entered Friday night’s rivalry game at Richard R. Flores Stadium on different trajectories.
The Cougars had lost four straight games and were hanging on to their playoff hopes, while the Bobcats won four of their previous six to put themselves in prime position to secure a spot in the postseason.
It all went out the window as the Cougars stunned the Bobcats 20-12 to spoil their homecoming night to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Edinburg North improved to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in District 31-6A. The Bobcats dropped to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in district.
“It’s always huge when you beat EHS, and one thing I kept telling the kids is, ‘Hey guys, they made you guys their homecoming, and if that doesn’t get you ready to go, I don’t know what will.’ Our kids came out ready to go today,” Edinburg North head coach Damian Gonzalez said.
Edinburg North swung all momentum in their favor with back-to-back big plays during the fourth quarter. The Bobcats’ defense forced a Cougars punt, but Edinburg North punter Mark Hernandez pinned Edinburg High at their own 5.
With their backs against the wall, Edinburg High called a wide receiver screen on first down. Edinburg North cornerback Orly Gonzalez promptly jumped the route, secured the ball in his hands and strolled into the end zone for a 5-yard pick-six.
“They’d been doing it all first half, throwing screen, screen, screen, so I just had to execute on one of them,” Orly Gonzalez said. “I knew they were going to pass it again, so I just had to read the quarterback, read the receiver and execute better.”
When Gonzalez realized the throw was coming in his direction, one thought crossed his mind.
“I’m going to get this pick-six, baby. Let’s go,” he said.
Edinburg North showed off its rushing attack of Chris Barrera and Hernandez, who also handles punting duties. The Cougars’ offensive line won the battle in the trenches to give their backs running room throughout the game.
Barrera ran for one touchdown and kicker Yahir Trejo added field goals from 32 and 38 yards.
Edinburg High was led by the ground game of quarterback Roland Abrego, but the Cougars’ defense did enough to contain the No. 2-leading rusher in District 31-6A. Abrego finished with one rushing touchdown, as did running back Noel Serna.
The Cougars remain in the playoff chase in District 31-6A, facing must-win situations over the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I told the kids, ‘We have to treat each week like it’s a playoff game. You took care of one playoff win tonight, so let’s go get another one,’” Coach Gonzalez said.
First up for Edinburg North is a game against fellow playoff contender PSJA High (4-4, 3-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Richard R. Flores Stadium.
The Bobcats enter their bye week facing a win-and-in situation in Week 11 against PSJA High on Nov. 5 in Pharr.