PSJA North Raider quarterback Sergio Aparicio (3) hands the ball to running back Isaac Gonzalez (21) Friday night against Hanna Golden Eagles at Sams Memorial Stadium. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The PSJA North Raiders made their first playoff appearance in two seasons Friday night at Brownsville Hanna and after the first half of play, it looked like North would have to wait at least one more year for another bi-district playoff win.

But freshman quarterback Ale Aparicio and junior running back Isaac Gonzalez, the Raiders’ bell-cow back and District 31-6A’s leading rusher, combined to score three second-half touchdowns, as PSJA North scored 22 unanswered points to rally and stun Hanna 28-27 in a Class 6A Division II bi-district playoffs matchup Friday night in Brownsville.

The victory marks the second bi-district playoff win for the Raiders in the past three seasons after they defeated Laredo United South in the 2018 bi-district round.

“It was amazing. The kids kept on fighting and fighting and believed they were going to get it done,” PSJA North head coach Marcus Kaufmann said.

Coming out of halftime, the teams traded interceptions in Hanna territory. Hanna defensive back Alfredo Villarreal first ended a solid PSJA North drive with an interception at the 1-yard line, and then Raiders junior Chris Archer returned the favor with a twisting effort to pick off quarterback Diego Escovar’s throw before returning it to the Hanna 10-yard line.

Gonzalez scored on the next play, taking the handoff and bouncing out right on his way to the end zone. He added a two-point conversion to make the score 21-14.

“(Gonzalez) broke three or four tackles, hit a guy with a stiff arm and threw them off of him,” Kaufmann said.

The fourth quarter, however, was all Aparicio.

The Raiders’ freshman signal-caller found the end zone once on through the air and again on the ground late in the fourth quarter to help PSJA North take its first lead of the night after catching a pass on a successful two-point conversion attempt to move ahead for good

PSJA North (5-3) will face the San Antonio Taft Raiders (7-3) in the area round of the Class 6A DII playoffs next week at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Corpus Christi’s Cabaniss Stadium.

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