Wildcats blow past Rowe, advance to third round

Weslaco East's Ramsey Vasquez (4) stiff arms Nikki Rowe defender Andres Garza (24) during the first half of a Class 6A DII Area Championship game at McAllen Veterans Memorial stadium on Friday, Nov.22, 2019 in McAllen. Julio Montalvo | Special to The Crier

McALLEN — Weslaco East defensive end Leo Guerra lifted his teammate Hector Muñiz above his shoulders to celebrate the Wildcats’ final touchdown of the night.

Muñiz had reached the end zone unscathed off a toss left from the Wildcats’ 48-yard line on a first-and-25 to ignite Wildcats to a 31-10 lead in the final quarter with 3:43 left to play.

The score stood, and the Wildcats (9-3) went on to win the contest after forcing the McAllen Rowe Warriors (7-5) to turn the ball over on fourth down in the waning minutes of the game.

The win sends the Wildcats to their sixth trip to the third round of the UIL state playoffs in the past 10 years.

“It speaks a lot for our school, the coaching staff, our kids and the pride that we have at Weslaco East,” Weslaco East head coach Mike Burget said about reaching the third round of the playoffs.

The Wildcats will face Austin Westlake (11-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio.

McAllen Rowe’s offense was held to 52 yards rushing and 108 yards passing on the night.

“Our defense has done it all year,” Burget said. “If we chew up the clock, we’re fine.”

The Wildcats did just that to open the third quarter of play using its signature running game led by quarterback Ramsey Vasquez.

Vasquez rushed for 169 yards and scored three touchdowns.

The Wildcats rushed for 282 yards on the night and converted on 18 first downs.

The contest opened with both teams going three and out on their first series of downs in the first quarter.

Rowe would find the end zone on a pass to running back Joey Partida who ran for 20 yards down the sideline to take the early lead.

But the Wildcats would tie the game afterVasquez punched his way into the end zone on a 33-yard sweep right down the sideline.

On the Wildcat’s next series of downs, Rowe forced a Wildcats fumble on their 1-yard line, but went on a three and out late in the second quarter.

The Wildcats carried a 10-7 lead heading into the half.

The Wildcats marched down the field after converting three first downs on their first drive of the second half. Vasquez scored once more on a nine yard quarterback draw to lift the Wildcats to a 17-7 lead.

“We were moving the ball all game and we came up with the victory,” Vasquez said. “I’m psyched to go to the next round.”

After Vasquez’s second score, McAllen Rowe went the length using a combination of their running and passing game and converted on a 34-yard field goal on fourth down.

It was Rowe’s last score of the game.

“Our defense has been the number-one defense all year and we just put in the work to help get this win,” Weslaco East offensive linebacker Irwin Morin said.