PRAIRIE VIEW — One year after being dominated by Temple in a third-round playoff clash, Port Arthur Memorial was less than 1 minute away from getting its revenge and redemption in Friday night’s Class 5A Division I Region III semifinal classic.
But once again, the resilient, battle-tested Wildcats proved that they’re extremely difficult to finish off.
Kenny Pham’s 25-yard field goal gave Memorial a 29-26 lead with 54 seconds remaining, but Xavier Johnson’s 30-yard kickoff return and 43-yard reception from T.J. Rumfield set up Zion Leach’s 1-yard touchdown rush with 22 seconds left, lifting Temple to a dramatic 33-29 victory over the Titans at Prairie View A&M’s Panther Stadium.
“Our kids are going to finish until the end. That’s what we hang our hat on,” Scott Stewart said after Temple’s eighth playoff win in his two seasons as head coach, including last year’s 39-7 regional semifinal romp over Memorial. “When you practice finishing all the time . . . it’s not that we won’t get beat or can’t get beat, but we’re not going to stop playing until (the clock’s) all zeroes. We feel like we put these guys through stuff that other people don’t.”