Wildcats take district in victory over Vela

Weslaco East's Hector Muniz (15) leaps over Edinburg Vela defenders as he carries the ball in a District 31-6A matchup at Bobby Lackey Stadium on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 in Weslaco. (Joel Martinez | jmatinez@themonitor.com)

WESLACO — Weslaco East head coach Mike Burget and Edinburg Vela head coach John Campbell met on the 50-yard line for the overtime coin toss Friday.

It was a misty night on the gridiron at Bobby Lackey Stadium and the Wildcats and SaberCats were tied at 28 with more football to play and the District 31-6A title up for grabs.

After winning the coin toss, Campbell elected to have his team defend. Burget sent out his offensive unit one more time, where East scored in three plays, ending on 4-yard run by quarterback Ramsey Vasquez for a 35-28 Wildcats lead.

The Wildcats stopped the SaberCats on their last stand with a shoelace tackle by linebacker Gio Barrera on a SaberCats rush, and Muñiz blocked two passes in the end zone on third and fourth down to end the game and capture the District 31-6A championship for the Wildcats.

“Our kids fought to the end, and I can’t even tell you how proud I am of them,” Burget said. “Our kids are the district champs and we love it.”

Weslaco East (7-3, 6-0) will face Harlingen South in the bi-district round of the playoffs. The SaberCats (7-3, 4-2) will face Harlingen High.

The Wildcats tied it at 21 after Vasquez ran it in from 5 yards out and a Vasquez-to-Jordan Velasquez 2-point conversion.

“That is one of our favorite plays,” Vazquez said about the pass.

After the kickoff, with the clock winding down in regulation, the Wildcats stopped the SaberCats on a fourth down pass that was intercepted by Jon Animas with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force the overtime.

“It was a hell of a game between two good clubs,” Burget said. “We are looking forward to representing our district in the playoffs”

The game turned into an instant classic with no room for error and played like a chess match with big runs and big passing plays on both sides of the ball.

The game featured a blocked Wildcats punt that set up a second score for the SaberCats during the first half. And in the second half, both clubs forced each other to fumble one right after the other.

On the SaberCats’ second series, they found the end zone with a post pass to the corner from quarterback A.J. Sotelo to Jestin Gomez to lift the SaberCats to a 7-0 lead.

On the Wildcats’ second series, Vasquez scored on a 65-yard touchdown run down the right sideline to tie the game. It was his first of three touchdowns on the night.

That marked the first of two 60-plus rushing plays for Vasquez on Friday that set up scores for the Wildcats.

“I appreciate my offensive line and thankful for all the blocks they put in for me,” Vazquez said. “I had to do this for them and they deserve this as much as I do.”