The Veterans Memorial Patriots and the Mission Eagles clashed in front of a sold out crowd at Tom Landry Stadium to settle this year’s Battle of Conway.
The Patriots came roaring out of the gate by scoring on their first possession of the game on a 4th and 3 at the Eagles’ 19 yard-line when quarterback Diego Hernandez scrambled into the end zone after being flushed out of the pocket.
After the Patriot defense recovered a fumble, Hernandez hooked up with receiver Buda Gonzalez to make the score 14-0. Mission High quarterback Rudy Trevino injured his throwing arm in the second quarter, sitting out the rest of the game, replaced by freshman quarterback Damian Gomez. The Eagles responded by driving down the field to put up six of their own, feeding running back Steven De Leon to make the score 14-6 at halftime.
“The atmosphere was great tonight. Two teams, community out to support both of them. Stands were full, stands were excited, a game of ups and downs,” Veterans Memorial head coach David Gilpin said after the game.
The second half of the rivalry game saw the scoreboard light up. De Leon recovered a muffed punt early in the third and would find the end zone for the Eagles, capped by a successful two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 with 7:55 left in the quarter.
Hernandez and receiver Jacob Guerrero followed by hooking up for their first of three touchdowns on the night to bring the score to 21-14 Patriots. De Leon and the Eagles refused to go away as they answered right back with an 81-yard burst to the end zone to tie the game at 21.
The Patriots then scored 21 straight points with Hernandez finding Guerrero for two touchdowns and receiver Landry Gilpin for a 68-yarder to bring the score to 42-21 Eagles.
The fight in the Eagles never left as they struck back with two scores of their own to make the score 42-35. Receiver Oscar De La Garza hauled in a fade from Gomez for one and De Leon again found pay dirt on the ground with 52 seconds left in the game, bringing his touchdown total to four on the night.
The Eagles recovered the ensuing onside kick but fell short in their last attempt at a comeback when Gomez was intercepted by Gilpin to seal the non-district game by a final score of 42-35.
“You got to give Coach Detmer and his bunch credit, they never quit. That’s what you get when you get Mission and Mission Veterans – you got two prideful schools, two prideful teams, two prideful coaching staffs,” Gilpin said.
The Patriots have now won the last three games in matchups between the crosstown rivals, marking the first time Veterans Memorial has won three consecutive years in ‘Battle of Conway’ series history.