The 16 seniors on the John Curtis roster are two wins away from a fourth consecutive title.
On Friday night, those seniors added another stellar accomplishment to their four-year reign of dominance.
They never lost to rival Evangel Christian.
Curtis, boosted by a stellar defensive outing, ended Evangel’s season for a fourth straight season with a 13-7 victory in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
“This is a great rivalry and most of the time in a rivalry the rival will get one, so it feels great to have four straight victories,” senior quarterback Myles Washington said.
Curtis, which has played in the state championship game every year since 1996, is now just a win away from extending that streak. The Patriots (9-1) play Brother Martin in the semifinals after taking a 6-3 all-time series lead against their rivals from Shreveport.
But unlike the last three meetings against the Eagles — all won by Curtis by at least three touchdowns — this one was close.
Sophomore Garrett Wallow picked off a fourth-down pass with 3:30 left that all but sealed it.
“We knew the defense had to hold them down,” said Wallow, who also had a fumble recovery. “Coach told me to keep jamming him. Once I saw it, I knew I had it.”
Evangel (8-4) never got the ball again. It was the eight straight year the two perennial powers who elected to play up in classification this season have met in the playoffs.
“They are a good football team,” said Patriots coach J.T. Curtis. “Anybody from this point on is capable of winning this thing. It is going to come down to physical play and taking advantage of scoring opportunities. … And I have to compliment the secondary and the whole defense.”
Washington scored the first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 7:56 left in the first quarter. Devon Benn set up the touchdown with a 55-yard run that put the Patriots at the Eagles 10-yard line.
The Patriots padded the lead early in the second quarter on Benn’s 14-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles had a chance to close the gap midway through the second quarter after Hunter Dale muffed a punt, and Evangel recovered at the Curtis 39.
The Eagles drove to the Patriots 1-yard line, but the Curtis defense bowed up, and Evangel came away empty when Hunter Creasy missed a 22-yard field goal.
“That was huge,” Curtis said. “You can’t ask for a defense to do any more than that. The way they rose up there was tremendous.”
Curtis could’ve stretched the lead but came up short right before halftime and took the 13-0 lead into the locker room.
“That hurt us mentally a little bit,” Curtis said. “You have to execute in those situations.”
But thanks to the defense, it didn’t matter. Curtis held Evangel to just 52 yards through the first two quarters.
“I felt like our kids fought hard, but we struggled getting the ball in the end zone,” said second-year Evangel coach Byron Dawson, whose team started the season 1-3. “I’m so proud of these seniors for winning seven games in a row and taking the No. 1 seed to the wire on their home turf.”
Evangel closed the gap on the first play of the fourth quarter when Conner Curry connected with Tanner Ash for a 49-yard touchdown pass to close it to 13-7.
But it was as close as they could get.
Benn led the Patriots with 137 yards on 13 carries.
“That just shows that we have progressed as a team,” Washington said. “When the offense struggles, the defense stepped up and that’s a great sign of us coming together.”