Poteet and Ennis dared to take on the icy elements on Thursday.

It was a different kind of storm that the Pirates were unable to weather, as the Lion defense returned three interceptions for scores in a five-minute span to turn a tight contest into a 43-21 victory in a Class 4A Division II Region II championship game at Kincaide Stadium.

Poteet (12-2), the first Mesquite ISD team to advance four rounds deep in the playoffs three times in a four-year span, fell in the regional title game for the second consecutive season, while Ennis (14-0) remains undefeated and will take on the winner of the Aledo/Wichita Falls game next week.

The Pirates and Lions were the only area teams that opted to play on Thursday and the frigid temperature certainly made both teams feel its bite, as neither was able to establish anything in the passing game.

A ground-oriented contest figured to favor run-heavy Ennis, but it was Poteet that held a 14-13 lead at halftime.

But the Lions, who hurt themselves with a pair of early turnovers, amped up their smash-mouth attack coming out of the locker room.

Ennis ran the ball on 25 consecutive offensive plays, capped by a 24-yard touchdown run by Nick Gabriel to take a 25-14 lead with 9:41 left. The Lions did not break any long runs during the stretch, but they were slow and steady, as Poteet held them on third down five consecutive times only to watch Ennis convert on fourth to keep drives alive.

Poteet had yet to complete a pass to that point and when they were forced to turn to the aerial game, the Lions were ready.

Taylor Thompson broke it open when he picked off a pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 31-14.

Thompson again victimized the Pirates with a 52-yard pick-six, and less than a minute later, Terrell Hearne got into the act wtih a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 43-14 with 3:50 left.

Poteet tacked on a late 1-yard scoring run by Marquise Banks, but that merely snapped a run of 36 unanswered points by Ennis.

It was an unlikely final for a game that was evenly-matched for three quarters.

The Lions turned the ball over on downs after driving into the Poteet red zone on their first drive, but came right back later in the first quarter with a 21-yard touchdown run by Devin Smith to take a 7-0 lead.

The Pirates showed off a power run game of their own behind Jaylon Smith, who finished with 154 yards on 23 carries.

The junior got the call seven times in a nine-play, 70-yard drive that he capped with a 6-yard scoring run to tie the game at 7-7.

Poteet was unable to turn a fumble recovery by Malik Jefferson into points, but they did after an interception by James Swindle set up a eight-play drive that DeAndre McNeal finished off with a 1-yard touchdown run to give them a 14-7 lead with 1:50 left before halftime.

That momentum was short-lived, though, as Jah'Shawn Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

Even though the Lions failed on a two-point conversion to leave the Pirates a 14-13 lead, it was a swing in momentum that would carry over throughout the second half.

After a mishandled snap on a punt by Poteet flipped the field, Ennis grabbed a 19-14 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by Terence Williams, who led the team with 98 yards on 25 carries.

The Lions then forced another punt and then moved 74 yards in 11 plays, with Gabriel finishing the drive with his 24-yard score that made it 25-14.

The Pirates had held on three consecutive two-point attempts and the 11-point deficit was not insurmountable for a team that averaged 43.8 points per game, but it was a comeback the Ennis defense refused to let happen.

Follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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