DENTON — After falling to Abilene Wylie and Stephenville in the third round of the playoffs the last two years, Argyle overcame an 11-point halftime deficit — and a one-hour, 33-minute lightning delay — to rally past Celina, 26-22, in the Class 4A Division I Region II semifinals on Friday night at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Just moments after the Eagles (13-0) seemingly sealed the win with a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown from Jake Sullivan — called back because of an offsides penalty — Celina (7-5) took a 22-19 lead when Hunter Watson connected with Brady Cunningham on a three-yard TD pass before Noah Ross ran in the two-point conversion.
But Argyle’s fast-paced offense had more than 2 1/2 minutes remaining to answer, and the Eagles put together a drive that featured three third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion.
With 25 seconds left on the clock, junior quarterback Bo Hogeboom dropped back and launched a 28-yard touchdown pass to Cole Kirkpatrick down the left sideline to put the Eagles back ahead. Tate Van Poppel recorded a sack on Celina’s final play, giving the Eagles an emotional victory over their rival.
“I think we were way too emotional to begin the game and frustrated ourselves with a lot of emotional highs and lows,” Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said. “Celina did a phenomenal job of getting after us, and we didn’t respond well. The lightning delay kind of helped us calm down, we found our peace and we made some really good football plays.
“It still wasn’t clean the second half — Celina didn’t lie down. It was an opportunity to advance to the elite eight, and they were not going to go down easy.”
The game was much more dramatic than the first meeting between the schools just three weeks ago, when Argyle jumped out to a 42-0 lead in the first quarter before coasting to a 63-21 victory in District 7-4A (I) play.
The Eagles managed just 71 yards of offense in the first half Friday after their first drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal from Grant Shaw, and Celina had everything working in the early going. Logan Point had a 22-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Watson tossed a five-yard TD pass to Ross with 9:46 left in the second to give the Bobcats a 14-3 lead.
Argyle got a stop on the first possession of the third quarter and then drove down the field before sophomore running back Tito Byce scored on a 13-yard run. Shaw added a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the third, making it 14-12 Celina.
But the Eagles’ defense continued to play well, as Brenden Dixon hauled in his ninth interception of the year to set up a 15-yard touchdown run from Byce with 8:28 remaining in the fourth.
Cunningham gave the Bobcats a brief lead before Kirkpatrick gave Argyle the play it needed to keep its season alive.
Hogeboom finished 20-of-38 for 242 yards and a touchdown, while Byce rushed for 132 yards and two scores on 35 carries for Argyle.
Watson was 10-of-19 for 96 yards and two touchdowns for Celina and Logan Point rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
The Eagles advance to take on Waco La Vega next week in another rematch of a regular-season victory. Argyle beat La Vega 31-29 in Week 2, and the Pirates advanced to the fourth round with a 38-20 win over Paris on Thursday night.