Churchill edges Roo­sevelt to make play­offs.

In­ter­cep­tion sets up game-win­ning TD be­fore an­other pick sews up play­off bid

San Antonio Express-News - - FRONT PAGE - By David Hi­no­josa

The fate of Churchill’s sea­son de­pended on the bounce of the foot­ball. Ac­tu­ally, it was two bounces. Charg­ers sopho­more de­fen­sive back Gavin Cas­tro made sure there wouldn’t a third as he snagged a twice-tipped pass for an in­ter­cep­tion. That led to a go-ahead touch­down and a play­off berth in Churchill’s 24-20 vic­tory over Roo­sevelt on Fri­day at Heroes Sta­dium.

“It was a great mo­ment play­ing for some of the se­niors, know­ing it could be their last game,” Cas­tro said. “It was a good feel­ing.”

District 27-6A’s fourth and fi­nal district play­off spot was on the line, with the win­ner get­ting the berth.

The Charg­ers (5-5, 4-3) will play Bren­nan or Bran­deis in the first round of the 6A Divi­sion II play­offs next week.

Cas­tro’s in­ter­cep­tion came af­ter Roo­sevelt’s Car­los Garibay scram­bled and fired down­field. The ball de­flected off two Churchill de­fend­ers be­fore Cas­tro se­cured it and re­turned it 23 yards to the Rough Rid­ers’ 12-yard-line.

“I got it and took it as far as I could,” Cas­tro said. “I saw it, and I just went for it. I had a gen­eral idea (of where the ball was go­ing). It just hap­pened. It was in­stincts, re­ally.”

Charg­ers quar­ter­back Derek Perez

scored on a 1-yard sneak five plays later that put the Charg­ers ahead for good, 24-20, with 4:19 to play.

“I’m so glad he did that,” Perez said of Cas­tro’s in­ter­cep­tion. “It was a huge play by a sopho­more. It was in­cred­i­ble.”

It was Perez’s sec­ond touch­down in the fourth quar­ter. He had a 26-yard scor­ing run that pulled the Charg­ers to within 2017 with 8:21 left.

Perez led the Charg­ers with 122 yards on 22 car­ries.

Cas­tro capped the game with an­other in­ter­cep­tion at mid­field in the fi­nal minute that ended Roo­sevelt’s come­back hopes.

The Rough Rid­ers (4-6, 3-4) were in search of their first play­off berth since 2012. Their chances looked good af­ter they took a 20-10 lead on Rashod Owen’s 4yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quar­ter.

Owens gave the Rough Rid­ers a 13-10 lead with 6 min­utes left in the third quar­ter on an­other 4yard run. Cas­tro blocked the ex­tra point af­ter the score.

Turnovers hurt Churchill in the first half, with a fum­ble lead­ing to Roo­sevelt’s first touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion that took away a po­ten­tial score.

Roo­sevelt took a 7-0 lead when it re­cov­ered a muffed punt on Churchill’s 3-yard-line. Ja­cobe Jack­son scored on the next play to put the Rough Rid­ers up 7-0 with 4:46 left in the first quar­ter.

The Charg­ers tied it at 7 on the next se­ries on Perez’s 11-yard keeper late in the first quar­ter.

Churchill drove to Roo­sevelt’s 13 on its next pos­ses­sion be­fore Josh Hol­lis picked off a run­ning back pass from Cody Lilie in the end zone early in the sec­ond quar­ter.

The Charg­ers took a 10-7 lead 19 sec­onds be­fore half­time on Nick Fal­sone’s 34-yard field goal.

Churchill qual­i­fied for the play­offs first time since 2016.

“It feels good be­cause we didn’t make the play­offs last year,” Perez said. “It feels good to bounce back from last year.”

Pho­tos by Ron­ald Cortes / Con­trib­u­tor

Cas­tro’s key in­ter­cep­tion was tipped first by Luke Rosas (20), then Braden Gill (10). The Charg­ers over­came a 10-point fourth-quar­ter deficit.

Gavin Cas­tro (11) cel­e­brates his pick off a dou­ble tip that led to Derek Perez’s 1-yard sneak for the win­ning score.

Ron­ald Cortes / Con­trib­u­tor

Roo­sevelt’s Jalen Smoth­ers picks off a pass dur­ing the Rough Rid­ers’ 24-20 loss to Churchill on Fri­day at Heroes Sta­dium.

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