File Photo: Adrian Broaddus/TexasHSFootball

EL PASO — Eric Pichardo, the head coach at El Paso Austin High School, said all week how time of possession would be the most important part in the Bowie-Austin game Friday night at R.E. McKee Stadium.

However, it was El Paso Bowie High School that emerged with the win in the time of possession battle and outlasted Austin 21-19 to become the frontrunners for the fourth spot in District 1-5A.

“Extremely important game and I couldn’t be more proud of all our guys,” Bowie Head Coach Robert Padilla said. “I’m proud of how hard they fought all season and it showed tonight.”

Bowie opened the game with a commanding drive resulting in a 30-yard rushing touchdown by wideout Jacob Marrufo. Responding to the touchdown, Austin was able to construct an 80-yard drive that finished with starting running back Alejandro Cabral taking a 12-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game.

On the very next drive, Bowie capitalized on Austin’s defensive breakdown as running back Nathan Felix took a 51-yard haul for a touchdown right up the middle. The Panthers then answered the call with a well-put out drive ending in a 32-yard field goal.

It looked like the game could have become a scoring fest and went back and forth.

In the second quarter, Bowie’s defense was able to get stops and their offense led an impressive 82-yard drive midway into the quarter. The drive should have ended in a field goal, but on the attempt, an Austin defender jumped the snap and the penalty resulted in a first down.

The very next play, Felix would punch the ball in from three yards for the touchdown. Despite a late interception by quarterback Joseph Ponce, Bowie had a solid advantage going into the half, leading 21-10.

Austin received the ball right out of the half, but could not do anything offensively. New quarterback Cesar Mirales, who was inconsistent in his debut to the gridiron, looked for explosive plays down the stretch, but couldn’t capitalize on any.

In the second half, Ponce of the Bears went out of the game with an apparent knee injury, forcing the already depleted Bears to put in half back Justin Diaz in the game.

Diaz ran the ball eight times in the game for 99 yards, but he had a costly fumble in the third quarter that could have set the Bears up by three touchdowns. It also could have resulted in an Austin touchdown that would have inched them closer to Bowie’s lead.

“It did scare us a little (when Ponce went out),” Padilla said. “But we trust Justin and he did a good job tonight.”

Bowie’s defense stepped up in the second half and allowed just one touchdown through 24 minutes of play, including a huge red zone stop in the fourth quarter.

When things seemed out of reach for Austin, Bowie had a mishap on special teams where the snap off a punt flew beyond the end zone for an Austin safety. With the ball going back to them, Austin scrapped a 48-yard drive capped off by a Mirales 1-yard rushing touchdown.

But after they couldn’t recover the onside kick, Bowie held on and ran the clock out to win the game.

“This win gets us one step closer to our goal,” Padilla said.

Bowie is now in control of their own destiny and simply needs to win their last two games to pretty much secure their playoff spot.

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