For some, the game wasn’t supposed to be close. With Pearland’s two top running backs out for the season due to injury, most figured that the Manvel Mavericks would win by a double-digit score.
But the No. 3 state-ranked Mavericks and the No. 4 state-ranked Oilers gave the sold out crowd at The Rig every bit of their monies worth and then some.
Two undefeated state powers battled til the end and the game really wasn’t decided until the Oilers came up short on a two-point conversion with only 3:16 left in the game leaving the score 35-33 in favor of the Mavericks.
For the Mavericks, it was the show of speed on offense as the Mavericks racked up 28 first-quarter points. It looked like Manvel would race past the Oilers as they have done all of their District 22-6A opponents this year.
For the Oilers, it was the awakening of a new little jet by the name of Davier Pinkston. The sophomore running back came of age against the Mavericks’ mighty defense as he rushed for 203 yards on 34 carries while scoring on runs of 2 and 3-yards. The latter brought the Oilers to within two-points and a thrilling end to a hard-fought game.
Manvel ran the opening kickoff to the Pearland 40 and on the first play from scrimmage, Manvel junior signal-caller D’eriq King tossed a lob pass to a wide open Matt Adams who gathered in the ball and raced untouched into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. The score took only 11 seconds.
But Pearland responded with an 11-play drive that ran out of steam at the Manvel 24. Facing fourth down, Pearland opted for a 41-yard field goal by Connor Lenamond to close the gap to 7-3.
The drive was sparked by a 50-yard pass completion deep in Manvel territory.
It took Manvel nine plays to score their next touchdown capped off by a 31-yard pass from King to Reggie Hemphill with 6:56 left in the opening frame and a 14-3 lead.
The Mavericks then took advantage of a Pearland fumble and King scrambled for a 38-yard scoring run :38 seconds later for a 21-3 advantage.
That’s when the Pearland faithful began to get restless, but the home crowd was quickly brought to their feet when Pearland junior Isaiah Chaney gathered in the kickoff at the five-yard line, found a huge hole in the middle of the Manvel coverage team and turned on the jets to score on a sensational 95-yard kickoff return to put the Oilers back in the game 21-10 with 6:03 still left in the first period.
It took only two minutes for the Mavs to find paydirt again as Hemphill caught an 18-yard pass from King to increase the lead to 28-10 at the 4:03 mark of the first quarter.
Little did anyone know that the never-say-die Oilers would not allow the Mavs to score again in the first half and only once in the second half.
Pearland scored twice in the second quarter on a 41-yard scoring pass from QB Jake Blumrick to close the gap to 28-17. Pinkston scored on a 2-yard run with 2:20 left before intermission to make the score 28-24 at halftime and the Oilers very much in the game.
The Oilers got the second half kickoff and turned it into a 35-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the third to make the score 28-27.
Manvel turned their next possession into a score when King hit Sean Dykes on a short toss for a 5-yard score to give them a 35-27 cushion. But it almost wasn’t enough.
With 3:16 left in the game, Pinkston punched the ball in the end zone on a 3-yard run that set up the breath-taking ending.
The Oilers tried a trick play, with wide receiver Cody Williams getting a pitch and throwing to quarterback Jake Blumrick. Will Lockett was there for Manvel and the UCLA verbal pledge stepped in front of Blumrick to intercept the throw leaving the final score at 35-33.
Blumrick finished the game hittine 12-of-24 passing for 166 yards and one TD.
Williams had four grabs for 56 yards. Ryan Deshotal had two catches for 48 yards. Diaz had four catches for 50 yards as one touchdown. Jonathan Sam had two catches for 12 yards.
King was 16-of-23 passing for 202 yards and four TDs. He also had 161 yards rushing on 18 carries and one score.
Hemphill had six catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Adams had two catches for 56 yards and one score.
Both teams will now enter the post-season as the No. 1 seed in their respective divisions and will not face one another again.
Manvel (10-0, 8-0) will enter the 6A Division II bracket as 22-6A’s top seed. The Mavericks will face Beaumont West Brook (5-5), who was off Friday but advanced with La Porte’s win over Channelview.
Pearland (9-1, 7-1) will be 22-6A’s top seed in the 6A Division I bracket, and the Oilers will play Deer Park at 7 p.m. next Friday at UH’s TDECU Stadium.
“Hopefully these guys will take this, grow from it and be a good football team,” Pearland head coach Tony Heath said. “We said, ‘This chapter of the season closes.’ And we knew that at the beginning of the year.
“We close this chapter and we open our season next week as an 0-0 team. I think we have a lot of things we can learn from this game and hopefully we can move forward.”