Atascocita gets playoff win over Pearland

PEARLAND FIELD GENERAL - Senior QB Cole Morkovsky looks for a receiver against Atascocita in the Class 6A Region III Div I area round. Morkovsky was 21-of-31 passing for 244 yards against the Eagles. Pearland came up short against Atascocita ending their season with a 9-3 mark. The Oilers shared the District 23-6A crown this year with Dawson and Shadow Creek with 6-1 records. [Photo by Lloyd Hendricks]

A year ago, Pearland finished the first year under new head coach B.J. Gotte 6-5 while advancing to the playoffs for the 23rd straight year. After a tough loss to Dickinson (35-21) ended the season, Gotte remained positive as the Oilers took their first steps to rebuilding a once proud program.

The four previous years before Gotte’s arrival, fans saw the Oilers taking steps backward instead of forward and the players who played found it hard to take pride in being an Oiler.

Pearland fans sensed something special this year as Gotte openly stated that Pearland’s gridiron warriors were going to need at least two years to get back to the level they once were in order to compete against the upper echelon they once battled.

The Oilers aren’t there yet, but fans could see they are on their way as they improved from 6-5 to 9-3 while advancing to the second round this year to extend their playoff run to 24 years.

Prior to the beginning of this year, Gotte said, “”After going through our first true off-season, it was important for us during spring football to get back to basics fundamentally (blocking and tackling), develop and grow our football understanding (IQ), while identifying what our strengths and weaknesses are with personnel,

“One of the biggest areas of need going into the off-season was to improve our strength, speed, and explosiveness.”

One could see the improvements as the season progressed. After losing to Dickinson last year in the first round, the Oilers bounced back to avenge that loss to take the next step of growth.

Atascocita is in one of the premier districts in the state with North Shore, Summer Creek and C.E. King. All four team are currently in the region playoffs.

While Atascocita finished third in their league standings — they are still a top tier team in the state.

The Eagles jumped out early in the game with two quick touchdowns as they scored on a 53-yard and a 10 yard run to make the score 14-0 with 2:02 left in the in the first quarter.

But the Oilers quickly score on a pass from QB Cole Morkovsky to WR Patrick Bridges that covered 70-yards to the Atascocita five-yard line. RB LaDamion McDowell scored on a 1-yard plunge to cut the lead to 14-7 with :41 seconds stiill left in the opening period.

Atascocita took the ensuing kickoff at their own 17 and promptly moved down the field 83-yards in 8-plays capped off by a 48-yard scoring strike to make the score 21-7 with 9:49 left in the second quarter.

The Eagles increased the lead to 28-7 with 7:47 remaining in the first half with another scoring pass covering 44-yards.

The two teams held on defense and the Oilers took advantage of an Eagle punt that was gathered in by Ashton Hampton who caught the punt at the Pearland 44, backtracked a few yards, and then picked up a wall of blockers that gave him an ally down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown to close the gap to 28-14 with 5:06 remaining in the second quarter.

Atascocita would score two more times on 29 and 20-yard scoring passes to stretch the advantage to 41-14, however the Oilers weren’t going away.

With :41 seconds remaining in the first half, McDowell wiggled his way through the Atascocita defense, found an slim opening, and raced 51 yards for a touchdown to close the halftime gap to 41-21.

The Oilers seem to be out of the game, but that all changed to begin the second half.

Pearland got the second half kickoff and promptly scored on another McDowell scoring jaunt covering 51 yards to cut the margin to 41-28.

The Oilers recovered the onside kick that caught Atascocita sleeping, and McDowell scored again on a 43-yard dash to close the gap to 41-35 with 8:38 left in the third quarter.

Unfortunately for Pearland, the talented Eagles would wake up and score three more times in the second half to put away the game for a 61-35 playoff win.

But no one can say that the Oilers laid down and gave up. There is a new fire in the Pearland team, and they certainly made the Eagles fight for every score.

Morkovsky was 21-of-31 passing for 244 yards against the Eagles. Morkovsky was 160-for-256 passing for 2,245 yards and 20 TDs this season.

McDowell finished the game with 21 carries for 187 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, McDowell had 238 carries for 1,495 yards and 32 touchdowns.