Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 4 — Mission Veterans Memorial vs Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial

Photo by Mary Scott McNabb

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December 1, 2018

Mission Veterans Memorial 62, Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial 55

In the finale of a Valley Week tripleheader at the Alamodome, it was thought 11-1 Mission Veterans Memorial would play unbeaten and favored Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial very tough, but few outside of diehard Mission Vets fans gave the Patriots much of a shot. Sure, Mission Vets had one of the Valley’s most prolific offensive attacks, but this was a Valley team going up against a Corpus Christi Vets squad that had dominated all in their path and even owned a non-district win over San Antonio Churchill.

It was an offensive showcase from the jump as neither defense was able to get a foothold, but key to it all was Mission Veterans senior quarterback Landry Gilpin, who had his coming out party to the state of Texas with a performance for the ages. Gilpin accounted for 703 yards of offense and seven total touchdowns in a game that eventually cemented his legacy as one of the best high school players from the Rio Grande Valley and it was his signature moment as he’d go on to win the Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year.

Mission Vets despite being the underdog jumped out quickly on the Eagles taking a 20-7 lead with 8:29 left in the second quarter after Gilpin tossed his third touchdown of the half, all going to three different receivers. Corpus Christi Veterans rattled off 17 straight points to take a 24-20 lead. Kobe Piper scored on a 16-yard run and then David Soto hooked up with Carter Senterfitt for a 21-yard score. Romario Perez capped the Eagles' scoring run with a 43-yard field goal. The Patriots wouldn't go away as on the final play of the first half, Gilpin found John Aguilar for a three-yard touchdown and the underdogs from the Valley held a 26-24 halftime edge.

The third quarter was a back and forth affair with Gilpin and Soto dueling it out. Gilpin ran for a score and threw his second touchdown pass to Aguilar to account for two of the three Mission Vets scores, while Soto tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another to pace Corpus Christi Vets and after three quarters Mission Vets held a 47-45 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, it appeared that Corpus Christi Veterans would take charge of the game as the Eagles defense forced a Mission Vets punt and despite being pinned inside of its own five, the Eagles had the ball with a chance to take the lead back.

That was when the overlooked Mission Veterans defense made what most Patriot fans would consider the play of the year, when LB Jazz Vallejo stepped in front of a short pass from Corpus Christi Vets. The senior linebacker made the play, intercepting the pass and strolled into the end zone for a massive pick six that swung momentum to the Patriots and made it a two score game once again at 54-45.

With 1:33 left in the game and leading by just six at 54-48, Gilpin and the Patriots offense put the game on ice with a 31-yard touchdown to make it 62-48 and despite the late score from the Eagles, Mission Vets was able to recover an onside kick and make some history. The win cemented a rare fourth round playoff appearance for a team from the Rio Grande Valley (The first since Port Isabel in 2012) and the first in school history for Mission Veterans. Corpus Christi Veterans, a program in just its third year has made the regional semifinal round twice and looks to break past that third round barrier in 2019 with a solid program in place under head coach Cody Simper.

Previous Games:

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 10 — Eastland at Breckenridge

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 9 — San Antonio Brandeis vs. Brownsville Hanna

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 8 — Cuero vs. Texarkana Pleasant Grove

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 7 — Lubbock Coronado vs. Azle

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 6 — Malakoff vs. Brock

Stepp's Top 10 Games of 2018: No. 5 — Iowa Park vs. Glen Rose

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