Piggybacking on the old adage of defense wins championships, the Pirate defenders came to play Friday night in Corsicana.
Forcing four turnovers, including interceptions by Anthony Burns, Jesse Majors-Sterling and Marcus Willis, La Vega rolled past Wilmer-Hutchins, 42-7, advancing to play top-ranked Argyle in what has become an annual postseason matchup between the two schools.
Though the offense scored 42 points, La Vega’s defense stole the show.
Marching down the field in six plays with Jar’Quae Walton finding the end zone from 19 yards away, the Pirates struck first.
The Eagles only score of the game came on the following possession, as quarterback Andre Henderson found Jalin Moore for 52 yards to set the Eagles up at the 3. The two hooked up two plays later to tie the game.
But something clicked defensively after that first possession for the Pirates. Facing a 14-7 deficit after a five-yard touchdown by Jordan Rogers, Henderson gift wrapped an interception for La’Travius Johnson near the goal line.
The turnover parade continued. Anthony Burns stepped in front of an Andre Johnson pass, returning it to the Eagle 6. Ara Rauls III darted in on the next play to put the Pirates up 21-7.
A promising drive to start the second half for Wilmer-Hutchins was quickly thwarted on a big sack of Henderson, one of five on the night for the Pirate defense.
A rare punt for La Vega started the Eagles at their own 36, but Marcus Willis jumped in front of a pass on a fake punt, returning it to the 26 and setting up Walton’s second touchdown run.
The final two scores for the Pirates, Raul’s second and a Manny Ruiz one-yard touchdown, were set up by big plays defensively, one a 20-yard loss on a Darion White sack and fumble recovery. White finished the night with five tackles.
Marcus Cobb recorded three tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Lost in the defensive glow was another solid performance by Walton, who finished the night with 91 yards and a couple of scores.
La Vega heads to Joshua to face Argyle on Black Friday at 7:30 p.m.