One had the feeling on Friday night that it was only a matter of time before Poteet started firing on all cylinders.
The Pirates had offered glimpses in all three phases of the game, but had been unable to get everything going at the same time.
Unfortunately for Poteet, that moment never arrived.
Magnolia was able to put the clamps on the Pirate offense for much of the second half and they used a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away for a 34-14 victory in a Class 5A Division I bi-district playoff game at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
The Bulldogs (8-3) advance to the area finals where they will take on three-time defending state champion Highland Park (10-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium, while Poteet finishes the season at 5-6.
Pirate running back Seth McGowan, who had missed the previous three games, gave it a go on Friday. McGowan entered the game on Poteet’s second drive and darted around the left edge for 14 yards on his first carry.
But he would have only two more touches—one rush and one reception—and just was not healthy enough to make more of an impact.
Despite the 20-point difference at the end of the game, the Pirates were in it for a majority of the night and certainly had their chances to write a different script.
Magnolia drove to the Poteet 20 on its second possession but the Pirate defense held firm on fourth down. The Pirates gave it right back, though, as they fumbled near midfield, with Rylan Ritch recovering for the Bulldogs.
The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter, but Magnolia changed that quickly in the second.
Sparked by a fake punt to convert on fourth down, the Bulldogs marched 58 yards in eight plays, with Mitch Hall scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.
It was a sign of things to come from Hall, who entered the game averaging 175 rushing yards per game. He eclipsed that total on Friday, using a bruising style to finish the night with 31 carries for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
Following a Poteet punt, Magnolia added to its lead, as Travis Moore found Ben Coligan for a 12-yard scoring strike to make it 14-0.
The Pirates were in desperate need of a spark and Jailyn Graham provided it, fielding the ensuing kickoff and weaving 70 yards through the Bulldogs to close the gap to 14-7.
Poteet was outgained 270-73 in the first half but was still right in the thick of it.
They moved into Magnolia territory on the opening drive of the third quarter, but dropped a pass in the end zone on fourth down.
The defense then provided a big play as Heng Taing intercepted a pass to set the offense up in good position and this time they would capitalize.
The Pirates moved 65 yards in seven plays, with quarterback Steven Fink’s 18-yard run setting up a 1-yard scoring plunge from Xzaveon Jeans to tie it at 14-14 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
But Magnolia, who ran 40 plays to only 21 for Poteet in the first half, began to wear the Pirates down as the game progressed.
Though Poteet had the momentum, the Bulldogs took it right back with a eight-play, 59-yard march that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run from Hall to regain the lead at 21-14 with 39 seconds left in the third.
The Pirates went three-and-out and Magnolia went right back to work, as Moore hooked up with Ben Renfro on a 42-yard touchdown pass and it was suddenly 28-14 with 8:46 remaining.
Poteet moved to midfield on its next drive, but stalled and turned the ball over on downs.
Two plays later, the Bulldogs put it away, as Hall broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run that pushed the advantage to 34-14 with only 4:00 left.
Fink, who came on in relief at quarterback, completed 10-of-23 passes for 95 yards and added nine carries for 48 yards. Jeans had 15 carries for 49 yards, while Tristan Golightly paced the receivers with five grabs for 74 yards.