WACO — For the second consecutive year, despite losing the regular-season meeting between the two, Waco Le Vega spelled the end of the road for the Argyle football team.
The Pirates seized momentum within the first minute of Friday’s Class 4A Division I regional final and, behind their tried-and-true run game, never let up in a 44-20 victory over the Eagles from Baylor University’s McLane Stadium. The loss concluded top-ranked Argyle’s season at 13-1, falling in the fourth round of the playoffs to La Vega for the second straight year.
“It’s a great football season. There’s many, many teams across the state of Texas that would love to be 13-1,” said Todd Rodgers, Argyle head coach. “Unfortunately for us, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We didn’t get to meet all of our goals, but that’s part of starting 0-0 in the beginning of August.”
The Eagles and Pirates have built up a budding rivalry in recent years, with Friday’s meeting marking the fourth collision between the two state-ranked powerhouses since September 2018. That included a non-district matchup earlier this season on Sept. 6, one where Argyle picked up a 49-35 victory — an outcome that strayed further and further from consciousness with every passing moment of Friday’s regional final rematch.
La Vega, which was forced to play catch-up all game during that September meeting, played Friday’s contest on its own terms — never trailing and blindsiding the Eagles with an unexpected flurry to begin the ballgame.
The Pirates drew first blood on special teams, blocking a line-drive punt that bounced out of the end zone for a safety just 59 seconds into the night. La Vega converted the ensuing possession into points following a 12-play drive that ended on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Rogers. He added a two-point conversion to up the count to 10-0 with 6:03 left in the first quarter and Argyle still searching for its first play of positive yardage.
“By no stretch of the imagination did that game start the way we wanted it to,” Rodgers said. “We just had a big emotional letdown and it was tough to get through that.”
The Eagles countered in necessary fashion, firing back with a 75-yard touchdown from senior Bo Hogeboom to junior Cole Kirkpatrick, but that was a mere bandage for a bullet wound that La Vega ripped open with 21 unanswered points for a 31-6 lead late into the second quarter.
La Vega’s run game left the Eagles in quicksand, as Elisha Cummings, Jar’quae Walton and Landry Kinne tallied the lion’s share of a 263-yard rushing half for the Pirates, who averaged more than 10 yards per carry over the first two quarters. Rogers added two more touchdowns on runs of 1 and 9 yards, while Kinne tacked on a 45-yard score on the ground to deal Argyle a rare four-score deficit.
“They have good offensive linemen and great backs. They can consume you with the magnitude and size of that offensive line,” Rodgers said.
Argyle did little to subdue the torment with a pair of three-and-outs followed by an interception on a Hogeboom deep ball to Kirkpatrick before mounting some brief momentum heading into halftime. The Eagles thrust backup signal-caller CJ Rogers into action, with the junior scampering his way into the red zone before Hogeboom subbed in to connect with senior Cade Merka for a 5-yard touchdown as time expired for a 31-13 halftime deficit.
“They have good coaches and a good program. It’s just a daunting task and you can’t make any mistakes because they’ll capitalize,” Rodgers said.
La Vega swelled its lead to 44-13 midway through the fourth quarter on touchdown runs by Cummings (8 yards) and Walton (6 yards) on their way to 391 rushing yards as a team. Walton was the bell cow in that effort with 198 rushing yards, while Kinne added 81 and Cummings racked up 74 — all three rushing for more than 6 yards per carry.
Argyle, which mustered just 275 yards in defeat, got 218 passing yards from Hogeboom alongside three touchdowns and three interceptions. Two of those scores went to Kirkpatrick, who bagged six catches for 141 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the contest.
“Cole is a fine athlete. They were doubling him over the top and we still got the ball to him,” Rodgers said. “His achievements speak for themselves — not many people have 20-something touchdowns receiving over the course of a season.”
Friday’s loss marked the Eagles’ most lopsided setback since 2005, spelling a bitter end to the program’s second straight four-round playoff campaign.
“Right now, they feel miserable,” Rodgers said. “We’ll reflect on it on Monday and have a meeting in a more rational environment. We’ll let the pain go away and reflect on all the positives.”