For the fourth time since 2001, the Pearland Oilers captured the Class 5A Region III Div. I championship and will advance to the 5A Div. I state semifinals against the San Antonio Madison Mavericks at Waco ISD Stadium on Saturday, December 14 at 3:00 p.m.
The Oilers won region titles in 2001, 2006, and 2010. Pearland won the 2010 5A Div. I state championship with a 28-24 victory over No. 1 nationally-ranked Euless Trinity.
Pearland is now 13-1 overall while SA Madison is 11-3 as they enter the state semifinals.
When Pearland faced the Cy-Fair Bobcats, both teams knew it would be a defensive battle and it would come down to which team could generate enough offense during the game.
This has been a Cinderella season for the Oilers, but now there are only four teams left in 5A Division I and Pearland is one of them. Most never gave head coach Tony Heath and his warriors much of a chance this year, but they are still dancing and gaining momentum with every game.
When Pearland beat 2012 state finalist Houston Lamar two weeks ago, the Oilers shifted their belief system and it has really shown over the past two playoff games.
“Our kids wear a wristband that says, ‘Toughness, Tempo, Finish’ to serve as a reminder as to the way they are to approach each and every game,” Heath said. “We only look forward one game and that will be San Antonio Madison.”
The focus the Oilers had against Cy-Fair was evident as the Oilers picked off the two more interceptions giving them a school-record 32 and counting.
Pearland scored their only touchdown in the opening quarter when Zach Boegler scored on a 3-yard keeper. Nicolas Keller booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead at the 6:36 mark.
Cy-Fair put together a strong drive that ended at the Pearland three-yard line as the Bobcats settled for a 20-yard field goal with 10:66 left in the second quarter.
The Bobcats figured their potent ground attack would be able to find the end zone with almost three quarters remaining in the game, but that turned out to be wrong as the Pearland defense continued to thwart all offensive attacks on the ground and in the air.
With only :02 seconds remaining in the first half, Keller lined up for a 30-yard field goal and split the uprights giving the Oilers a 10-3 lead at intermission.
No one expected that the scoring would come to an end as both teams took over the second half on defense and the Oilers stood tall and strong to shut down running back Dillon Birden who entered the game with over 2,200 yards and 25 TDs. Birden rushed for over 200 yards against North Shore the previous week, but not against the Oilers.
“We knew that Birden would get some yards, but I really proud of the way the defense contained him throughout the game,” Heath said.
Kevin Harvey and Jason King each recorded an interception against Cy-Fair at key moments in the game.
Cy-Fair finished with 216 total yards and were 7-of-14 passing with two INTs. Birden was held to 152 yards on 29 carries.
The game was similar to when the Oilers played Cy-Fair in 2006 in the region final. Pearland scored in the final minute in one of the greatest finishes in Pearland history as QB Sam Proctor hit Reid Wendell at the Cy-Fair 3-yard line with time running down off the game clock. After a struggle with three defenders, the Pearland calvary showed up six players who blasted Wendell into the end zone giving Pearland the 16-15 victory and sending them to the 5A Div. I state semifinals.
In that game was All-State running back Sam McGuffie (Michigan/Rice) who had rushed for over 3,000 yards during the season, but the Oilers held him to less than 150 yards and two scores.
History repeated itself and the Oilers are now the 2013 Class 5A Region III Div. I champions for the fourth time in school history with only two more games remaining this remarkable season.
Pearland finished with 180 total yards against Cy-Fair which is all they needed to get the job done.
QB Connor Heath was 5-of-9 passing for 44 yards. JaColbie Butler had 17 carries for 60 yards. Hayden Cole bulled his way for 49 yards on 15 totes. Boegler had three carries for 10 yards and the lone touchdown. Heath had two carries for 12 yards including one for a crucial first down in the second half.
Boegler also had two catches for 25 yards. Carter Jefferson had one grab for 11 yards and Jacoby Lewis had two catches for eight years.
A LOOK AT THE SAN ANTONIO MADISON MAVERICKS
Madison is 11-3 overall and finished third in their district to co-champions SA Reagan and SA Johnson, which is playing Katy in the Class 5A Division II state semifinals. Reagan and Johnson both defeated Madison. The Mavericks also lost a non-district game to Smithson Valley to finish the regular season with a 7-3 mark. Madison opened its season with a 46-45 win over Cibolo Steele. Last week, the Mavericks defeated Converse Judson 35-29 with a goal line stand at the end. Madison has several weapons that will get the attention of the Oilers defense. QB Cody Ennis has passed for 3,074 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 847 yards and 20 TDs.RB Dominique Daniels is the leading rusher with 1,036 yards and 10 touchdowns. Madison’s top receivers are Byron Daniels (70 catches for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Ja’Michael Brown (56 receptions for 16 touchdowns). The Madison defense has intercepted 10 passes.