Southwest’s football team recognized its task of repeating as district champions had become more difficult when Belen Jesuit was moved up to District 15-8A.
But the Eagles successfully defended their territory Saturday night.
Junior quarterback D’Undre Pickett-White threw four touchdown passes, and junior Quindale Corker had two clutch interceptions to help Southwest secure a 35-17 comeback win against Belen at Tropical Park.
Pickett-White completed 12 of 18 passes for 274 yards and threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half to help the Eagles (3-0, 1-0) erase a 10-point third-quarter deficit and score 28 unanswered points.
Never miss a local story.
“It was rough in this game, but just like our last win we fought through some adversity,” Southwest coach Tim Neal said. “I think this shows that this team is ready to compete for the playoffs.”
Belen (1-2, 0-1) took a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter on a perfectly executed option pass from wide receiver Christian Barrial to Daniel Neptune that covered 23 yards.
On the ensuing drive, Southwest began its comeback.
And Pickett-White just needed a couple of throws to turn the tide.
Pickett-White lobbed a pass over a Belen defender’s reach and into the hands of receiver Kristian Torano for a 26-yard gain into Belen territory. Four plays later, receiver Daquantay Smith made a great leaping catch in the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.
Corker intercepted Belen quarterback Cristian Matos on the next drive setting up Southwest at the Wolverines’ 35-yard line.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Pickett-White dropped in a perfect pass to Smith over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give Southwest the lead for good.
Belen advanced into Southwest territory on the ensuing possession.
But the Eagles stopped the Wolverines on downs at the Southwest 30.
Southwest put the game out of reach when Trevon Sands hauled in a screen pass over the middle, escaped two tacklers, spun around and ran 70 yards for a touchdown.
“Those guys called those plays themselves,” Neal said. “They saw it was there, and that’s what we train for is to have those kids prepared for those situations and adjust.”
Pickett-White threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Sam Flowers early to open the scoring. Belen did not allow the Eagles to add to their lead, however, and managed to take the lead scoring 10 points prior to halftime by taking advantage of Southwest turnovers.
Kevin Pascual intercepted Pickett-White with less than a minute to go in the half just moments after Barrial scored a 1-yard touchdown to help tie the score at 7. Jorge Powell’s 27-yard field goal gave Belen a 10-7 lead.
Belen moved the ball effectively behind Matos and its running game.
But the Eagles adjusted late in the third quarter, putting more defenders near the line of scrimmage to shut down the run.
“We couldn’t get frustrated because we know we’re a second-half team,” Pickett-White said. “Everything on our team is about momentum. We build momentum and then we sustain it. It shows in how we play.”