It was a game of momentum changes and unfortunately for the Veterans Memorial Patriots, it was the Edinburg Vela Sabercats that held on to the momentum throughout the second half as they overcame a 21-3 deficit to win their 10th game of the season and clinch the outright District 31-5A championship by a score of 39-27.
Early on it looked as if it was going to be the Patriots’ night. Two Landry Gilpin runs of 27-yards and 12-yards respectively and a 12-yard pass from Gilpin to Adam Solis accounted for 21 first half points that had the Patriots’ faithful thinking upset and a share of the district title. However the Sabercats scored their first touchdown of the game late in the second quarter to close the gap to 21-10 and begin the momentum change that would continue well into the second half.
A third quarter Sabercats’ touchdown and a successful two-point conversion made the score 21-18 Patriots. Then with only 27 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter, Vela took their first lead of the game on a quarterback keeper that made the score 25-21 Sabercats.
Vela extended their lead to 32-21 in the fourth quarter on a 38-yard TD pass before the Patriots put together a 99-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Gilpin to Bobby Tovar to get Veterans Memorial to within five points with a 32-27 score.
With 2:06 remaining in the game it looked as if the Patriots might pull off a comeback of their own but on the first play from scrimmage after the Patriots’ unsuccessful onside kick attempt, Vela scored on a 58 yard run to close out the scoring and give the Sabercats the 12-point victory.
After the game, Patriots’ head coach David Gilpin gathered his players and told them that while he was disappointed in the game’s outcome, he was not in any way disappointed in the effort they gave.
When asked what allowed the Sabercats’ to overcome a 21-3 deficit Gilpin said, “Vela is a good football team. They’re 9-0 and the 12th ranked team in the state of Texas. Our kids came out to compete and that’s all I can ask of them. We left our guts out there but in the second half we couldn’t get them off the field.”
Despite the loss, the Patriots are in the playoffs and they will be taking on Donna High in the Bi-district round next week – the same Donna team that the Patriots defeated in the first round last year to claim a Bi-district championship.
“Now we’ve got to get ready for Donna,” Gilpin said. “We’re in the playoffs and we’ve had a good year and hopefully we can go out and win a championship and make it a great year.”
With the Patriots having hosted the Redskins last year, next week’s game will be played in Donna. The day and time of this game will be determined later.