Pasadena's Gabriel Hill gets an angle on South Houston defenders Thomas Bennett and Calvin Mitchell (21) and sets sail 18 yards for the end zone after catching a pass from Nick Bernal on the first play of the second quarter.
Pasadena High defensive back Francisco Rodriguez intercepted a potential game-winning pass at the goal-line as time expired Friday night to preserve a 26-21 Eagles upset of South Houston and dramatically shake up the state playoff picture in District 22-5A.
The Eagles celebrated homecoming at Veterans Memorial Stadium in stunning fashion, securing their first victory in a district game in nearly four years.
The victory promises to vault Pasadena into the playoffs and keep the Trojans out, depending on results the next two weeks.
Now 1-2 in district play and 5-3 overall, the Eagles can likely sew up a playoff spot by beating either Memorial or Sam Rayburn in their final two games.
The Trojans, 2-6 overall, fell to 1-2 in district with games remaining against Dobie and Memorial.
South Houston, fresh off a 38-3 romp over Sam Rayburn, were jolted in the first half by the Pasadena rushing combination of quarterback Nick Bernal and Julian Nance, and by Bernal's ability to sustain drives through the air.
The Eagles jumped to a 12-7 halftime lead, the big play a 18-yard touchdown strike from Bernal to Gabriel Hill on the first play of the second quarter. The TD gave Pasadena a 9-0 lead.
The Trojans wiped out the deficit and took a commanding 21-12 victory on two second-half TDs, one a 27-yard pass from Rudis Requeno to James Davis and the other a 30-yard run by Deion Francis.
But Bernal came back with two fourth-quarter TD strikes to Lemus, the first a 39-yard toss to Armando Lemus and the second a 27-yarder with 1:09 left in the game. In between, Nance scored on a two-point conversion run.
Still, the Trojans nearly pulled the game out in the closing seconds. Requeno completed three passes and ran for another 11 yards to move South Houston to the Pasadena 14 with only 12 seconds left.
Requeno tried two passes in the remaining time, the first an incompletion. The second was swiped by Rodriquez at the goal-line, setting off a wild Eagles celebration.
Lemus caught three passes in the contest for 99 yards.
Pasadena's Devan Canas (9) trips up South Houston's Erick Henriquez after a short gain.
Eagles quarterback Nick Bernal runs out of the pocket with Trojans defender Isaac Garza (26) in pursuit.
South Houston's Toree Daniel, the district's leading receiver, spins away from Eagles defender Francisco Rodriguez and heads upfield after a reception in the first quarter.
South Houston quarterback Rudis Requeno falls into a sack trap set by Eagle defenders Noe Munoz (30) and Juan Salinas (66).
Pasadena's Albert Castro (10) prepares to stick South Houston receiver Dequan Moore (87) on a key fourth-down play late in the first half. Castro's stop forced the Trojans to turn the ball over on downs.