Poteet and Everman traded big plays throughout the second half on Friday in a game certainly worthy of the playoffs stage.
The problem for the Pirates was overcoming perhaps the game’s biggest moment, which took place in the waning seconds of the first half.
Facing fourth-and-3 from its own 27, Poteet stopped the clock with 13 seconds left.
The Pirates elected to go ahead and punt and disaster struck, as the Bulldogs not only blocked the kick, but Diego Cortez scooped it up and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown to extend their lead to 21-7 with only three seconds remaining before the break.
It was not an end to the night’s drama, but it did create a mountain that Poteet was unable to scale as Everman staved off the Pirates’ comeback attempt to hold on for a 41-33 victory in a Class 5A Division II bi-district playoff game at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
The Bulldogs (5-6) advance to the area finals where they will face Lovejoy, the 7-5A Division II champions who rallied past Greenville for a 45-30 victory, next week at a time and place to be determined.
Poteet and Everman combined for nearly 600 yards and 46 points in the second half, but the main story line never changed, as every time the Pirates mounted a threat, the Bulldogs had an answer.
For all the late drama, Everman nearly put it away midway through the third quarter with a methodical nine-play, 79-yard drive. Juan Davis, who was the difference-maker in the game, capped the march with a 5-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-7.
Poteet had struggled to maintain drives up until that point, so it turned to big plays.
On the ensuing possession, Demarques Taylor was trapped in the backfield, but reversed course to turn a big loss into a 43-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 28-13.
It did not take the Bulldogs long to answer. Jonathen Wilson, who was largely kept in check for the first two-and-a-half quarters, started finding running room and he exploded for a 67-yard touchdown run to restore the three-score cushion at 34-13.
The Pirates needed only two plays to answer, as Jeremiah Anukem’s first and only carry of the game went for 62 yards to the end zone to draw to within 34-20 heading to the fourth quarter.
In desperate need of a stop, the Poteet defense got what it was looking for, stripping the Everman ball carrier, with Elijah Allen recovering for the Pirates.
Quarterback Jaylond Police found Charles Bradley to convert a key fourth-and-6 and that combination hooked up again on a 39-yard gain to set up a 2-yard scoring run from Xzaveon Jeans to close to within 34-26 with 5:48 left.
The Poteet sideline and crowd was energized, but the Everman ground game, which amassed 439 rushing yards on the night, would not be stopped.
The Bulldogs went 66 yards in seven plays—all on the ground—with Davis scoring on a 10-yard run to push the lead back to 41-26 with 2:43 remaining.
The Pirates still had a little magic left, quickly countering when Police threw a 5-yard scoring strike to Bradley to make it 41-33 with 1:49 left.
Poteet’s onside attempt was recovered by Everman, and while they still had two timeouts left, a pair of big runs by Davis allowed the Bulldogs to run out the clock and celebrate the win.
Davis was huge in all areas, rushing 18 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns and catching three passes for 49 yards, nearly all of which came at big moments.
After begin held to 37 yards in the first half, Wilson was nearly unstoppable in the second, as he finished the night with 21 carries for 192 yards and a pair of scores.
The Pirates could not have asked for a better start, as Anukem fielded the opening kickoff, and raced through the Bulldogs for a 68-yard touchdown return to take a 7-0 lead just nine seconds into the contest.
Little did Poteet know, it would be their final points of the first half.
Everman quickly answered, with Davis breaking tackles on his way to an 18-yard touchdown run to tie it at 7-7.
Another big plot point of the night was the Bulldogs’ efficiency on third down, where they converted 8-of-11 attempts.
One of the biggest came in the second quarter on a third-and-11 when quarterback Eric Calamease found Davis for a 41-yard gain to set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Wilson to give them a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish.
The Bulldogs threatened to extend their lead late in the first half, but Taylor thwarted the chance with a huge interception in the end zone with just 53 seconds left before halftime.
There was not much time left, but it was just enough for the Everman special teams to deliver the play of the night, and one which would provide the final margin in the end.