JUNCTION – Center Point produced season highs in passing yards and rushing totals for runningback Alex Valadez and needed to cash in on every single one of those markers in holding off Junction 58-48 Friday in the regular season finale for both squads.
Valadez carried the ball 13 times for 158 yards and five touchdowns. He scored twice in the first quarter when Center Point went up 13-0 and added another as time expired in the first half to allow the Pirates an intermission lead of 28-18.
Alvaro Bustamante’s aim was good on two of three point-after kicks in the first half and he made five of seven for the game. Valadez ran in a two-point conversion as well.
Kolby Vincent was good for the other first half touchdown when he caught a 62-yard bomb from Kolten Kitchens. Vincent finished the game with 104 yards and three receptions, while Kitchens ended with five completions in eight attempts for 149 yards and zero interceptions.
Junction scored three times in the second quarter and had another big outburst in the third period when the Eagles soared for three more. Half of those scores were through the air, going 55, 23 and 38 yards. Abraham Escamilla pulled the trigger 21 times for 10 completions and 198 yards behind center for the Eagles.
Escamilla’s 38-yarder went to Isaac Rojas and Escamilla’s two-point try tied the game 42-42 with 2:15 in the third quarter. Valadez’s final scoring rushes were in the third, giving Center Point leads of 35-18 and 42-34 with 10:33 and 4:58 remaining, respectively.
Bustamante added a 25-yard field goal to his point totals and the successful boot happened with 10:09 in the fourth quarter, giving the Pirates the lead 48-42 before Tyler Hill’s 18-yard catch put Junction back up 48-45 with 6:29 left in the game.
With the Pirates trailing, Leo Martinez was the recipient of an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kitchens at 4:06 in the fourth to put Center Point back up 51-48. And although the PAT kick failed, Kitchens came back later to score an insurance touchdown when he plunged over from five yards out. Bustamante’s final PAT was the final nail in the coffin for Junction.
By virtue of its sometimes nail-biting affair at the ‘Eagle’s Nest,' the Pirates advance as the third place team from 14-2A Div.-I and face off Thursday, Nov. 14 in Llano against Thorndale, which goes into bi-district at 8-2 and runnerup from District 13-2A. Game time is 7 p.m. and Center Point will be the home side team.
The Pirates (6-4, 3-2) leave the district behind Mason and Brackettville. Thorndale is 8-2 overall and was 4-1 out of its district. The Bulldogs have a loss to 13-2A champ Holland and a nondistrict defeat against Bremond which is currently 9-1 in 2A-Div.-II
The win was very important for seeding purposes because the loser goes into bidistrict as the fourth seed and has a date with state-ranked and unbeaten Holland (11-0). Junction (3-7, 2-3) takes on the Hornets at 7 p.m. Thursday Johnson City.