Pearland gets win over Shadow Creek 20-13

UP AND OVER - Pearland WR Patrick Bridges (1) leaps over a Shadow Creek defender to the excitement of the Pearland fans. Bridges had three catches for 20 yards to help the Oilers defeat the Sharks 20-13. (Photo by Lloyd Hendricks)

In only his second year at the helm of the Pearland football program, head coach B.J. Gotte was looking to see his gridiron warriors get a win with significant meaning, and the Oilers did exactly that when they traveled to Freedom Field to face the defending District 23-6A champion Shadow Creek.

Not only did Pearland get the hard-fought 20-13 district opener for both teams, but they did it on the Sharks home turf.

“I was proud of our kids,” said coach B.J. Gotte. “Since last March of ’22 when we arrived our players have bought into our plan and have worked extremely hard to raise their standards.

“Last year we came up short in a few big football games and I felt for them. It was pretty cool to see the excitement our players had when they were able to enjoy finishing a game and getting a win against the defending district champions.”

Pearland played Shadow Creek a tough game in 2022 and led for most of the game until the Sharks scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to fall 24-20.

The Sharks went on to claim the 23-6A title at 7-0 and finished the 2022 season with an 11-1 record.

The Oilers finished in third place in the district race but still advanced to the post-season for the 23rd straight year.

The win sends the Oilers in a great position to win the league crown this year.

“The challenge moving forward is to enjoy the win but keep working toward our destination,” Gotte said. “Getting the victory against Shadow Creek was great, but it did not accomplish our goal, which is to win the district championship.

“If we are going to compete to win district, we must continue to improve, we still have a bunch of talented, well-coached teams we will compete against this year.

“I told our players to enjoy the win but stay focused on the destination…we have not arrived; we still have a long way to go.”

The Pearland win snapped a 22-game regular season winning streak by Shadow Creek and gave the Oilers their first win over the Sharks since the two teams have been competing in 23-6A the past four years.

The Sharks got on the scoreboard on their second possession of the game. Tylik Burton got the ball at his own 40, broke through the Pearland defense, and raced 56 yards to the Oiler 4 before finally being tackled from behind. QB Jacorey Watson scored on the next play on a keeper around the right side with 7:06 left in the opening quarter.

However, Pearland’s Ashton Hampton broke through the Shadow Creek line to block the PAT, leaving the Sharks with a 6-0 lead.

It didn’t take long for the Oilers to answer as they went on a 6-play, 42-yard scoring drive capped off with a 15-yard scoring run by LaDamion Mcdowell with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter. Jackson Stagg booted the PAT for a 7-6 Pearland lead.

After both teams traded several punts each, Shadow Creek began their next drive at their own 49. Watson was thrown for a huge loss by Pearland’s aggressive defense where the Sharks faced second down and 43.

Watson dropped back and threw a perfect strike to a streaking Justin Qualls who caught the ball for a crowd-pleasing 83-yard scoring bomb to the shock of the Oiler defense. That TD gave the Sharks a 13-7 lead with 3:39 left in the first half.

With 1:59 left in the first half, Shadow Creek was forced to punt on their next possession, and the Sharks muffed the punt, giving the Oilers possession at the Shark 22.

After two incomplete passes, QB Cole Morkovsky connected with sophomore WR Jordan “The Jet” Hernandez on a crossing pattern. Hernandez got a great block from WR Patrick Bridges to allow him to fly down the right sideline 15-yards to the pay station. Stagg hit the PAT for a 14-13 lead at intermission.

The game continued to be a battle of defenses in the second half with the Oilers scoring the only touchdown in the second half when Pearland linebacker Jaden Wincher recovered a Shadow Creek fumble at the Sharks’ 12-yard line.

It took only five plays for RB LaDamion Mcdowell to score on a 6-yard run for the 20-13 lead with 9:12 left in the third quarter. The PAT was blocked by the Sharks.

The Oiler defense stepped up to stop the potent Shadow Creek offense on all seven of their possessions in the second half to preserve the 20-13 win.

“Early in the year our offense & special teams were able to pick up the slack while our defense worked to find its way,” said Gotte. “Against Shadow Creek, it was the defense and our special teams that were able to carry the load while the offense struggled against a very talented Shadow Creek defense.

“That is what you look for in a championship team is the ability to win games even though one phase of your team is not having the success you work toward.”

Mcdowell had 25 carries for 74 yards and two scores while Shadow Creek’s Tylik Burton had 14 totes for 136 yards.

Wincher had 10 total tackles, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble, four TFL, and three sacks while Charles Gooden eight total tackles and a pair of sacks. Jaylen Stewart (6 tackles, 1 TFL) and Ethan Tinney (9 total tackles) also had notable efforts.

Pearland (3-1, 1-0) will host Alief Elsik (3-1, 1-0) on Friday, September 29 at 7:00 p.m. at Pearland ISD Stadium.