JOSHUA — Playing the No. 1 team in the state is always a difficult task, especially when you’re not playing your best.
The La Vega Pirates fumbled three times, losing one and had a punt blocked inside their own 5-yard-line, falling to top-ranked Argyle, 28-14, in the 4A Division I regional semifinals on Friday night.
A season riddled with injuries, adversity and adjustments came to an end, but the Pirates (9-3) did not go down without a fight.
The loss interrupted a trend for La Vega, which had lost to Argyle in the regular season in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons only to turn around and beat the Eagles in the playoffs. This time, Argyle pulled off the season sweep, as the Eagles also won, 35-7, over La Vega in a nondistrict clash in September.
Struggling early, the Pirates’ defense was no match for the high-flying Argyle offense. Quarterback C.J. Rogers, who has thrown for 37 touchdowns on the season, found Cash Walker deep for a 37-yard score on a perfectly-placed ball just over the defender’s reach.
The Eagles’ next possession was just as fruitful, as Rogers converted a fourth-and-four to Hayden Stewart for the easy score.
Argyle (13-0) didn’t do much the rest of the half, though, gaining just 28 yards on its final two possessions.
The Pirates drove inside the Eagles’ 10-yard-line in between Argyle scoring drives, only to see Jordan Rogers cough up the ball near the goal line.
But on a much-needed drive to get back in the game, the Pirates ate up nearly eight minutes of clock on 17 plays with a steady dose of Rogers, Jar’Quae Walton and Ara Rauls III. The senior trio capped the possession off with a two-yard Jordan Rogers score.
The Eagles’ offense was back on track early in the second half. Rogers led his squad on a 12-play, 60-yard scoring drive. Running back Tito Byce darted in from the 19, his first score of the game. The senior finished the night with 150 rushing yards on 21 carries.
Attempting to hang on, the Pirates answered with a two-yard Jordan Rogers score, his second and final touchdown of the night.
Getting the ball after a forced punt, the Pirate offense sputtered and on a 4th-and-11, the Eagles iced the game with a blocked punt, scoring three plays later on a C.J. Rogers three-yard run, putting Argyle up 28-14.
Rogers threw for just 69 yards, but was effective.
Rauls completed just two of his 11 attempts for 13 yards. Walton led La Vega in rushing with 163 yards. The Pirates finished with 250 yards on the ground in the defeat.
This marks the first time La Vega didn’t play at least 14 games in a season since 2014, when the Pirates finished 5-6. They played one of the toughest nondistrict schedules in the state this year, with games against Port Lavaca Calhoun, Connally and Corpus Christi Calallen in addition to Argyle.