By RAUL GARCIA
WESLACO — Weslaco East head coach Mike Burget scanned his sideline of football players.
It was crunch time, and the game was on the line.
The score was tied at 14 at Bobby Lackey Stadium Friday night, and the Wildcats had possession of the ball on a fourth-and-long in Weslaco High territory.
Burget was looking for his kicker, Gilbert Garza.
When he found him, they both gave each other a confident grin and Burget sent him to attempt the game-winning field goal, which he converted from 46 yards with 1:20 remaining to give Weslaco East a 17-14 victory and sole possession of first place in District 31-6A.
Weslaco East (6-3, 5-0) will host Edinburg Vela (7-2, 4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. A Wildcat victory will secure the outright district title.
The loss for the Panthers drops their record to 7-2, 4-1.
“I had to come out on the field with a lot of confidence,” Garza said. “Without the good blocking again, good snap, good hold, the kick isn’t made.”
“I just want to thank the coach, the team for trusting in me and give all glory to God that we came out with this ‘W’ today,” Garza said.
Weslaco High got the ball back with nearly 90 seconds left in the game, but Weslaco East forced the Panthers to turn the ball over with less than 10 seconds in regulation after Giovanni Barrera quickly stopped the Weslaco High kick returner inside the 20-yard line and later sacked Panthers quarterback Jacob Cavazos on fourth down.
“Our defense played lights out,” Burget said. “Our defense came to play because they want to show South Texas and Weslaco ISD that there are two good teams in Weslaco.”
For the second year in row, the city rivalry came down to a field goal.
Last year, the Panthers converted on a field goal to win 23-21.
Weslaco plays Edinburg North at 7 p.m. Thursday.