POTTSBORO — Pottsboro’s Hunter Watson passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third Friday as the Cardinals clinched a playoff berth with a 27-21 victory over Pilot Point at Jim Henderson Memorial Stadium.
Watson rushed 29 times for 250 yards, the fourth-best single-game total in Pottsboro history, and was 7-of-10 passing for 130 yards as the Cardinals (6-2, 3-0) kept pace with Whitesboro in the District 5-3A (I) race.
“This is important,” Pottsboro head coach Matt Poe said. “Our guys understand that they’re playing for a district championship every week and that’s what we talked to them about.”
Pilot Point (2-6, 1-2) dropped a close game to a district leader for the second week in a row.
“I’m proud of the kids,” first year Bearcats head coach Danny David said. “They’re playing hard. Coming in with a new program and learning new stuff, they continue to fight every week.
“I’m disappointed we can’t make the breaks we need to make and get over the hump and beat people like Whitesboro or Pottsboro, things along that line. But we’ve still got a chance and if you get in, everybody’s 0-0 and you go from there. It’s kind of bittersweet.”
Watson had touchdown passes of 8 yards to Drew Edwards and 24 yards to Ross Hendrix in addition to rushing 5 yards for a score. Dane Marburger added field goals of 20 and 29 yards for the Cardinals.
Watson had five runs of 20 yards or longer as Pottsboro rushed for 270 of its 400 total yards.
“It took a complete team effort tonight,” Watson said. “The team came out and did what we were supposed to do. We played how we practiced, and executed.
“The offensive line came out and did an excellent job tonight. They did the job up front and got on their blocks, which opened up some holes for me and Will (Cates) in the backfield. It was a great job by our offensive line.”
Pilot Point sophomore quarterback Jacob Pitts passed for 244 yards and three touchdowns as the Bearcats repeatedly hit Pottsboro for big plays through the air. Tyler Williams pulled in scoring passes of 36 and 32 yards with Quincy Kemp catching a 56-yarder.
Edwards opened the scoring late in the first quarter after Braden Plyler returned a punt 23 yards to the Pilot Point 20, but the Bearcats needed just five plays to answer on Williams’ first reception. Marburger capped Pottsboro’s next drive with his first field goal, then Pilot Point took its only lead of the night at 14-10 on Williams’ second touchdown.
The Cardinals needed just four plays to regain the lead on Watson’s TD run after Hendrix, who had four receptions for 105 yards, pulled in a 42-yard pass.
Marburger’s second field goal was the only score of the third quarter and Pottsboro went up 27-14 on Hendrix’s TD catch. The score capped a 10-play, 96-yard drive that was kept alive by Hendrix’s 27-yard reception on third-and-14 from the Cardinal 48.
“We were able to move the ball and had a couple of big plays,” Poe said. “That play on third down to Ross Hendrix was huge. That changed the game quite a bit right there. That was really big to help us get down there.
“We made bigger plays the second half than we did the first half. We were kind of grinding it out. The first half, I thought we were a shoestring tackle away here and there from getting a big play. It happened for us the second half.”
Both teams made significant defensive stops to keep the game close. Pilot Point stopped Pottsboro on downs at the Bearcat 19 in the first quarter in addition to holding the Cardinals to field goals on drives that reached inside the 15.
Meanwhile, Pottsboro sacked Pitts five times for 35 yards in losses and thwarted Pilot Point’s comeback bid when Jasek Hooks intercepted a pass in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
“That was huge,” Poe said. “We had some blown assignments in the secondary tonight, but, boy, they really came through when it counted.”
Pottsboro ran the clock down inside four minutes before punting for the only time in the game. After Kemp’s touchdown with 2:08 remaining gave the Bearcats a glimmer of hope, Pottsboro’s Landry Urquhart recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Cardinals ran out the clock.