(Corpus Christi, Texas)-“I was not pleased with our performance tonight,” said PSJA North head football coach, Marcus Kaufmann. “We just didn’t score.” The 15-5A DI Raiders (13-1) watched their season come to an end with a 20-14 loss to 14-5A DI Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial Eagles (12-2) in the University Interscholastic League State 5A DI Quarterfinal Championships at Buccaneers Stadium in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Rio Grande Valley fans came to see the next possible, UIL State semifinalist. Fans even wore black to show their support for the Raider Nation, but in the end, it was those lost opportunities that the Raiders could not punch in for points. “We left too many opportunities on the field and we did not capitalize. I’m disappointed. Still, we had a great season, but this loss…,” said Kaufmann. “I’m just a loss for words.” Two missed field goals, two missed scoring opportunities inside the red-zone, one fumble, one interception, those were the “gollies” of Saturday night. It was not Raider football.

In the first quarter, the Raiders marched all the way to the Eagles 15-yard line and a missed field goal gave Corpus Christi Veterans an opportunity to score, and that they did to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after the Raiders fumbled on their next possession. 

Still, the Raiders showed that they could continue fighting back. On the Raiders third possession, after a long drive to the five-yard line facing fourth down, Kaufmann calls timeout. He opted to kick another field goal, and it went right, no good. 

The Raiders defense still held on, keeping the Eagles in check, trailing 7-0, forcing them to punt again.

In the second quarter, the Raiders mounted a drive with 6:01 left, junior RB Jason Montes breaking loose to the Veterans 47-yard line. A few plays later, he hurdled a Veterans defender and was tackled at the 23-yard line. The Raiders were back! PSJA North QB Ale Aparicio launched a pass to WR Markus Rendon to tie the game at 7-7 all. 

The Eagles went to work with less than two minutes to play in the half. Senior quarterback Elijah Durrette scrambled to find WR Ryan Wilson for the score. Eagles led 14-7 at the half. 

In the third quarter, PSJA North Steven Garza picks off Durrette to give the Raiders another opportunity from their own 30-yard line. After two false starts, junior quarterback Aparicio throws his first interception, caught by Eagles DB Trey Brown. On Eagles next drive, after a pass caught by WR Wilson, he was stripped and the Raiders defense prevails again at their own 42-yard line with 4:36 left in third quarter. 

With 2:05 left in the third quarter, freshmen Raider RB Ethan Guerra picked up the much needed yardage and was tackled at the CC Veterans 28-yard line. A few plays later, Guerra entered the red-zone once again to the 16-yard line as the third quarter expired. 

In the fourth quarter, still trailing 14-7, fans chanted for the Raiders as the freshmen rushed to the five-yard line. And then it happened again, on fourth down, the Raiders were stopped after QB Aparicio rolled out to find WR Julis Arrendondo open and covered. No flag, a heated Kaufmann looked to the sideline official for an interference call, and the TASO official just nodded his head. “These officials were horrible,” one PSJA North fan told HSSM. “Just horrible.” 

With 7:52 left to play, Durrette found WR Tomas Garcia wide open for a 90-yard touchdown bomb to put the Eagles up for good 20-7.

This was the first UIL State Quarterfinal Championship appearance for the PSJA North Raiders as they will return 20 starters next season. The Eagles will move on to play College Station (12-2) winners over Smithson Valley 26-21 next Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. “I didn’t like the way this season ended,” said Kaufmann. 

The Raiders ended the night with 394 yards of total offense to Corpus Christi Veterans’ 335. Montes led the Raiders with 105 rushing yards while Arredondo had four catches for 106 yards.

Durrette was 12 of 21 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Luke Moya finished with 19 carries for 87 yards against the state’s second-best scoring defense in Class 5A Division I. PSJA North’s Ale Aparicio was 14 of 26 for 193 yards passing. (HSSMImages/Emmanuel Ruiz)

The PSJA Raiders lost to Corpus Christi Veterans 20-14 in the 5A DI Quarterfinal Championships on Saturday. (HSSMImages/Ruiz)