Zach Evans had just enjoyed another brilliant night in a career already full of awe-inspiring performances. His team had just won Region III in Class 6A, Division I — against a defending state champion, no less — and booked a trip to next week’s state semifinals.
But the junior running back was not satisfied with undefeated North Shore’s 38-21 regional final win over Cy-Fair on Saturday at NRG Stadium.
Evans bullied one of the best defenses in the state for five touchdowns. He had four scores and 141 yards on 17 carries, and caught three passes for 39 yards and another touchdown. North Shore (14-0) outgained Cy-Fair 545-296 in total yards, 24-16 in first downs, scored on all four trips to the red zone, and punted once.
It wasn’t enough for the player of the game.
“I’m not satisfied,” Evans said. “We could’ve done better. I’m disappointed in the way we played as a team, but that’s what practice is for. Today was unacceptable, in my eyes.”
The inside zone runs. The passing game. Evans said it all could have been better.
But for this week, it’ll have to do. Cy-Fair, which marched to an undefeated season last year en route to a Class 6A, Division 2 state title and finished this season 11-3, tied the game 14-14 on Jack Witmer’s two-yard scoring catch with 3:44 left in the second quarter that capitalized on a Bobcats fumble recovery of a Mustangs giveaway near the Cy-Fair goal line.
But a big North Shore push toward the end of the first half proved vital.
Evans scored on a 23-yard run 78 seconds after Witmer’s score, and John Villalobos’ 19-yard field goal with two seconds left, following a Cy-Fair punt, awarded North Shore a 10-point lead going into halftime.
Two minutes and 13 seconds into the second half, North Shore scored again, this time on Evans’ 10-yard pass from Dematrius Davis. That was the turning point, Cy-Fair coach Ed Pustejovsky said.
“That first drive of that second half when they scored … if we could’ve gotten a stop there and then maybe gotten another one, we could’ve made it interesting,” Pustejovsky said. “It just didn’t happen.”
The Bobcats played admirably. They executed well, did not turn the ball over and committed just four penalties.
“I’m proud of them. This game doesn’t define our season,” Pustejovsky said. “What they accomplished in just getting here was huge, especially with the added pressure from what they accomplished last season. Our kids did a tremendous job and had a great season.”
But North Shore’s explosive offense, engineered by the sophomore Davis, was too much, as it has been for most of this year.
“It feels great when you’ve got one of the best O-lines in the state,” said Davis, who completed 17 of 22 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown and ran nine times for 113 yards. “You have some of the best skill players in the state. It comes easy. The passing, the rushing. We were just too fast for them. They couldn’t stop us. I’m just trying to make sure we score every time we touch the ball.”
The Mustangs averaged 9.9 yards per play and produced 55 plays in 21-minutes, 55-seconds of possession. They converted 6 of 8 third downs and faced a fourth-down situation once.
“They’re very athletic on both sides of the ball,” Pustejovsky said. “They’re all very good football players. Coach (Jon) Kay and his staff do a super job with them, and that makes them extra special.”
Evans, Pustejovsky said, is a special talent. Kay said Evans had a great week of practice and arrived early Saturday morning to watch more video.
“He was dialed in,” Kay said. “It showed today.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Evans had his way, averaging 8.2 yards per carry in one of the few games this season that he played into the second half.
“We work hard every day. It’s a continuous grind,” Evans said. “What we’ve done so far is because of what we do in the weight room, what we do on the sled, what we do in the film room. This team is a family, and our success on the field is because of all that comes together off it.”
The reward is the Mustangs’ fifth regional championship since 1996. They play Lake Travis at 2 p.m. Saturday at NRG Stadium for a chance to go to the state championship game at AT&T Stadium.
“We still have a way to go,” Kay said. “We didn't set our sights on winning a regional championship. We set our sights on being the best possible football team we can be. We get to go back to work, we have another week of practice together, and that's the exciting part.”