Celina Scrapes By Pleasant Grove For Third Straight Regional Championship Appearance
MESQUITE -- Celina survived its second District 7-4A Division II team in as many weeks Friday with a 23-19 win at Mesquite's Memorial Stadium over Pleasant Grove in the regional semifinals.
The reward? A date with Gilmer, which happened to win the District 7-4A Division II championship, for a third straight season.
Gilmer and Celina have met the previous two seasons in the Class 4A Division II state semifinals, but Celina (11-2) was realigned into Region II from Region I ahead of the current football season. Both teams have won one game apiece against each other in recent years.
Pleasant Grove (6-7) faced a 13-6 deficit at halftime, but it had an opportunity to tie the game or even take the lead as it drove to Celina's 27-yard line early in the third quarter.
Celina defensive back Andre Norman, who scored on a long kickoff return in what ultimately was a three-point win over Gladewater last week, spoiled that comeback attempt with an 86-yard pick six for a 20-6 advantage after a successful extra point.
The Hawks outscored Celina 13-3 from there, but the damage was done. Norman's interception stood up as the game's winning score.
It was surprisingly bad turned surprisingly good season for Pleasant Grove. The team was 1-6 at one point, rallied to win a majority share of second place in District 7-4A Division II and then took out Rusk and Wills Point to draw its meeting with Celina.
The Hawks made good on their dream of winning a playoff game on the heels of a heartbreaking first-round loss last season. They won two postseason contests before it was all said and done.
Gilmer and Celina face each other at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Mesquite's Memorial Stadium.