LA JOYA — Time was running low on La Joya Palmview’s District 16-5A DI championship dreams Friday night at La Joya ISD Stadium.
Down 35-31 with just over 20 seconds to play, the Lobos forced a Mission Veterans punt attempt near the Patriots 40-yard line. A low snap caused Mission Veterans punter Michael DeAnda to scoop the ball up off the turf and scramble to make a play. DeAnda connected with a receiver on the impromptu fake punt, but he failed to reach the first down marker. Mission Veterans was penalized after committing a block in the back during the play, and charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after.
This gave the Lobos the ball at the Mission Veterans 11-yard line with just three seconds left in the ball game.
With one shot at the end zone, the Lobos made the most of it as senior quarterback David Gonzalez rolled to his left, saw the black and red of his teammates’ jersey in the end zone and delivered a pass that was tipped up in the air by one Palmview receiver before landing in Alexis Gonzalez’s hands for a Lobos touchdown as time expired for the 37-35 victory.
“Everything was on the line. I told them if you guys want this game, it’s yours. You’re going to have to take it from them, and that’s what we did,” Palmview head coach Mage Requeñez said after the victory.
Before throwing the game-winning pass, David Gonzalez had been picked off four times. But when it came time, the senior quarterback refocused, took a second to say a prayer on the sidelines, and delivered Palmview’s biggest throw of the season for a touchdown.
“I stayed locked in because I started praying to my guardian angel and I asked him for all the help I could get, and he answered with that touchdown,” David Gonzalez said. “I threw it. I meant to hit Alexis in the back, somebody tipped it, but the ball still ended up getting to him.”
Alexis Gonzalez, the recipient of the game-winning touchdown pass, admitted he ran the wrong route on the play, but he ended up being in the right spot at the right time for the Palmview go-ahead score.
“Coach told me to run a post, I didn’t run a post, I just ran to the Lobo sign, Freddy tipped it, and I just got it and it was a great feeling,” Alexis Gonzalez said.
The win is La Joya Palmview’s (7-2, 7-1) seventh in a row and creates a three-way tie for the No. 1 spot in District 16-5A DI between the Lobos, Mission Veterans and Rio Grande City. The Lobos have also locked up a playoff spot for the second straight year.
David Gonzalez finished the game with two touchdown passes, Carlos Peña rushed for two more scores, and AJ Chapa also ran one in on the ground.
The victory also ends a 17-game district winning streak the Patriots entered the game with.
Mission Veterans (7-2, 7-1) head coach David Gilpin said his team had opportunities to end the game, but failed to close it out.
“It’s a tough way to lose it. We made a couple mistakes, had a couple chances to put it away. We didn’t get the punt off, two penalties on the play, they had a chance to win it and they did,” Gilpin said. “Palmview’s a good football team, but I couldn’t be prouder of the way our kids played, especially in the first half.”
La Joya Palmview will close out the regular season with a game against Brownville Veterans in Week 11. Mission Veterans moves on to its season finale against Brownsville Lopez, and Rio Grande City will play host to Brownsville Pace on Thursday night. If all three teams win, they’ll end up sharing the District 16-5A DI championship.
“Hopefully we can make it eight wins in a row,” David Gonzalez said.