PSJA High senior quarterback Justin Morales has been on an absolute tear lately, as he helped lead the Bears to a 41-34 upset win over the previously unbeaten McAllen Rowe Warriors to put them squarely in the hunt for a second consecutive district championship.
Morales threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns through the air on 27-of-49 passing in what was one of his top games this season. He connected with four different receivers on his four passing scores and made an impact on the ground, as well.
In his first season as the Bears starting quarterback since he led the freshman squad three seasons ago, Morales has thrived in his team’s up-tempo, pass-friendly offense and his experience as a varsity wideout has given him an unparalleled level of chemistry with his pass catchers.
The senior’s 377 yards were his most in a game this year since a Week 2 road win against Corpus Christi Moody when he surpassed the 400-yard mark.
It’s been a part of a recent surge since the start of district play for Morales, who’s thrown for 700 yards, seven touchdowns and completed 61.4% of his throws against a pair of playoff teams — McAllen Memorial and McAllen Rowe — during the past two weeks.
He’s elevated his level of play consistently week-to-week since a tough home loss against San Benito to close out PSJA High’s non-district slate. Morales has improved his passing yardage in three of the last four weeks as well as his completion percentage.
He’ll look to become the first quarterback in 30-6A to cross the 2,000-yard mark for the season when the Bears (4-3, 3-1) take on McAllen High (2-5, 0-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Pharr.
SAVAGE RETURNS WITH HIGH-IMPACT PERFORMANCE
Warriors junior wideout David Savage made his return to the gridiron late in a narrow 41-34 loss to PSJA High last week.
Savage last appeared in a Week 2 contest against the Mercedes Tigers in The Monitor’s Game of the Week. He tallied two receptions, a touchdown catch and a team-high 46 yards in the air before exiting with a left ankle injury in the middle of the second quarter during Rowe’s 28-25 victory.
Savage didn’t make his appearance against the Bears until late in the second half, but miraculously led his team again with 45 receiving yards on four catches and was responsible for the bulk of the Warriors’ yardage on their final drive attempting to tie the game.
He was unquestionably the team’s No. 1 receiver before hurting his ankle and looks to be quickly re-assuming that role on the fly. With senior running back Lorenzo Lopez now sidelined with a leg injury as well, Savage will need to ramp back up to full speed quickly to expand the Rowe’s passing attack.
He could be a big difference maker for the (6-1, 3-1) when they travel to face the Mission High Eagles (6-1, 4-0) in a pivotal district clash with first place on the line.
McHI DEFENSE PROVING TO BE ONE OF DISTRICT’S MOST ELITE
Despite being the only team yet to tally a district win, McAllen High has boasted one of the league’s top defensive units at the halfway point of district play.
Entering last week, the Bulldogs ranked first in the district in terms of total yards allowed with opponents averaging only 271.5 yards per game. Additionally, McHi remains one of only two teams (PSJA High) to allow fewer than 1,000 passing yards on the season to date.
In a Week 8 cross-town rivalry matchup against No. 1 McAllen Memorial, the Bulldogs’ defense accomplished a rare feat that no other team has been able to duplicate this season: contain Campbell Speights.
The Mustangs senior star running back had tallied more than 200 yards rushing in each game this season until McHi bottled him up for 104 rushing yards on 29 carries. Additionally, he was limited to a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry, well short of his season average of 12, but he still burned the Bulldogs with three rushing touchdowns and another passing.
McHi (2-5, 0-4) and its stringent pass defense will be put to the test when it plays PSJA High (4-3, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m Friday in Pharr.