It was not easy, but Rowlett pulled out a 35-28 victory over Garland on Friday as they remain the lone undefeated team in 9-6A at 3-0.
The Eagles also complete their zone with an unblemished record, giving them the No. 1 seed in the district’s zone set-up.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 9-6A teams decided to create a back-up plan to determine playoff teams.
The teams were separated into two zones, or pods, which would feature three head-to-head matchups to determine seeds. The No. 1 seed from one zone, in this case Rowlett, would then take on the fourth seed from the other zone, which is Wylie, with the winner earning a playoff berth should the pandemic cause later cancellations or postponements.
The Eagles will host the Pirates at 7 p.m. Friday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.
Despite a 48-30 loss to Lakeview on Friday, the Mustangs are the second seed out of that zone behind Rowlett and will square off with third-seeded South Garland at 7 p.m. Thursday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium.
The other seeding games are Garland against Lakeview and Naaman Forest, the other zone top seed, against North Garland.
While this week could determine the district’s four playoff teams, it is provisional, and the hope is to be able to complete the regular season without any further delays and set the postseason slate the conventional way.
If that is the case, the teams head into the stretch run in what could be a wild race.
The Eagles (3-0) have a half-game lead over Naaman Forest (3-1) and Lakeview (3-1), with Sachse (2-2), Garland (2-2) and South Garland (2-2) tied for fourth place.
The Mustangs’ loss to the Patriots was its first against a GISD foe since a setback to Rowlett in 2015, which was also the last time they lost more than one district game in a season.
Sachse had no answers for Lakeview’s Camar Wheaton, who showed why he is rated among the top running backs in the nation with 22 carries for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Alex Orji topped the century mark on the ground for the Mustangs and he opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run.
Lakeview countered with a 54-yard scoring run from Michael Hierro and then added a field goal to take a 10-7 lead.
The teams traded scores in the second quarter, as Sachse got a 18-yard scoring run from Brian Okoye only to have the Patriots come right back when Wheaton broke free for a 74-yard touchdown to make it 17-14.
Lakeview pushed it out to 24-17, but right before halftime, Okoye had a 41-yard scoring run as the Mustangs closed to within 24-23 at the break.
The Patriots began to take control in the third quarter, as Hierro had a short touchdown run and threw a 28-yard scoring strike to Cambryn Jones and Nicholas Duran added a field goal to extend the advantage to 41-23.
Wheaton provided the biggest highlight of the night midway through the fourth quarter when he busted loose for a 96-yard touchdown run.
The Mustangs managed to get back into the end zone on a 4-yard pass from Orji to Cam Gladney to make it 48-30, but that was as close as it would get.
Naaman Forest kept pace with Lakeview, overcoming an early deficit to rally for a 31-15 victory over Wylie.
The Rangers had only 237 yards of offense, but made the most of their opportunities.
Trailing 7-0, Naaman Forest got on the scoreboard when Austin Valdez hooked up with Tristan Johnson for a 10-yard touchdown and Ja’Hari Lee added a pair of short scoring runs to take a 21-7 halftime lead.
Valdez added a second touchdown pass, this one to James Quezada and the defense did the rest.
South Garland picked up its second district with a 27-14 victory over North Garland on Thursday.
Jalil Brown threw three touchdown passes and Jayllen Chambers rushed for 128 yards and a score.
North Garland actually opened the scoring when Nathan Pena threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Ojuani Telemacque.
The Colonels countered with a scoring pass from Brown to Damon Rouwtt, but Pena found the end zone on a 5-yard run to give the Raiders a 14-6 halftime lead.
South Garland began to take control in the third quarter, as Chambers powered in from a yard out and Brown hit Jacob Crim on a 42-yard scoring strike to take a 19-14 lead.
That pair hooked up again to provide some insurance, this time on a 74-yard score that made it 27-14, and the defense made sure that would hold up until the end.