Pioneer Falls in Regional Finals to Liberty Hill 56-53
SAN ANTONIO - In a game that Rio Grande Valley football fans will remember forever, the magical season for the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks came to an end Saturday night as they fell to the Panthers of Liberty Hill High School 56-53 at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio.
The Diamondbacks struggled to stop the vaunted Slot-T rushing attack of the Panthers as they accumulated over 700 yards rushing in the victory.
Eddie Lee Marburger had one of the best all around games of his career, putting up eight combined touchdowns to give the valley their closest shot at the state semifinal since Port Isabel did it in 2003.
The Diamondbacks battled back after double-digit deficits on several occasions. Pioneer trailed 35-27 at the half and then allowed another Panther touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter to make it 42-27.
Pioneer scored on their next possession but failed to convert a 2-pt conversion attempt to make it 42-33, but pulled the momentum back in their favor when the recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.
Marbuger on the next play connected with Gavin De La Garza for a 45 yard TD pitch and catch with a two-point conversion to trim the deficit to one at 42-41.
The Panthers would fumble the ball on their next drive setting up Pioneer's opportunity to claim the lead for the first time, rather than go for it on 4th and 8 from the Panther 12 yard line, they elected to attempt a go-ahead field goal which was blocked and gave the ball back to Liberty Hill.
Two plays after the recovery the Panthers added another touchdown on a 37 yard run by Blake Simpson to push the Panthers lead back up to 49-41.
The Diamondbacks would have a chance to tie it early in the 4th quarter. Marburger hit Tristan Castillo for a 14-yard touchdown and set up a two-point conversion attempt.
After a holding call and a delay of game moved the PAT back to the 13 yard line, Marburger's two-point conversion pass would be intercepted to keep the lead with the Panthers at 49-47.
Both teams would add a score but the Diamondbacks were unable to recover an onside kick to give them one final shot to score to win the game.
Marburger finished with 464 yards passing and six touchdowns in his final high school game. He also added 115 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
For the Panthers Blake Simpson had 312 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
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