Lone Star Gridiron

Bellaire Snaps 43 Year Drought


photo: houstonchronicle

Bellaire Shocks Cinco Ranch

Rhodes Stadium-  If you are looking for a reason to include four teams in the playoffs, this is it!   The Houston Bellaire Cardinals and Head Coach Herb Kunz won their first playoff game since 1972... a 43 year drought.  Rotating through four quarterbacks, and with an extremely impressive pass rush, the Cardinals escaped with a 4 point win today in Katy over the Katy Cinco Ranch Cougars, 35-31.

Houston Bellaire started the scoring on their second drive.  Courtney Lark caught a 39 yard reception from starting quarterback John Hubbell to make it 7-0.

Cinco Ranch answered in four plays starting at their own 39.  Three Austin Frailey runs totaling 18 yards (9, 7, and 3) were followed by Russell Morrison finding Brant Kuithe open on 2nd and 7 from 42 yards out tying the ball game at 7.

Morrison's passing would give Cinco Ranch their first lead when he floated a gorgeous pass over a Cardinal defender and hit junior Greg Williams over his left shoulder down the right sideline for a 32 yard score and a touchdown lead, 14-7.

Bellaire missed a field goal wide left at the 9:20 mark in the second and seemed to be losing momentum. Cinco and Morrison were starting to move the ball with ease. Soon though, momentum would swing.  On 3rd and 15 at the Cinco 35, Morrison was scrambling for a first down when he fumbled the ball and junior linebacker Jackson Twyman fell on the ball for Bellaire.

It took 3 minutes, 39 seconds and nine plays for the Cardinals to even the score.  On 2nd and goal at the one, Hubble had some miscommunication in handing the ball off to Tavion Palmer. Palmer acted quickly and rolled into the end zone for the 14-14 tie.

Bellaire junior defensive end Jayden Peevy played out of his mind in the first half, recording four sacks.

Brandon Contreras kicked a 38 yard field goal to start the scoring in a wild and woolly second half giving the lead back to Cinco Ranch 17-14.  As with the first half however, as one team scored, the other answered.

Bellaire junior Lemant Moore responded to give the lead back to the Cardinals. Moore had a busted play turn into magic when he reversed field on an end around, cut back against grain, and ran past the Cougar defense down the left sideline.  Bellaire led 21-17.

Cinco answered quickly. Brant Kuithe returned the kickoff to the Cougar 43 yard line.  Five plays later, with 4th and 1 at the Bellaire 22, Morrison found a seam in the Bellaire defensive line and almost walked into the end zone untouched. Cinco Ranch again took the lead 24-21.

Coach Kunz went to the wildcat in the red zone and short yardage but he also used it to help start up a stagnate offense.  On 2nd and 5 at their own 40 Coach moved Tavion Palmer over from tailback to run as quarterback.  It worked.  The Cougar defense froze and as they did, Courtney Lark sprinted around the right side on an end around for 68 yards.  The 4 star athlete glided into the end zone and the Cardinals took over 28-24.

Bellaire had an absolute disastrous drive to start the 4th quarter. Outside linebacker Donovan Stiner, inserted quickly as punt returner, unwisely fielded a punt that left them on their 2 yard line.  On first down Palmer was swarmed by the Cougar defense for a yard loss.  Cinco Ranch players signaled it was a safety, but the ball was marked at the 1 yard line.  Hubbell then seemingly had Bellaire out of their hole when he found Hastings Jefferson to the 13 and a first down.  Two passes that went for negative yardage proved otherwise.  Both passes to Lark (-3 and -7) had them once again backed up on their 3 yard line. That’s when punter Benjamin Williams, who struggled all night, could only muster an 11 yard kick.

Katy Cinco Ranch started at the Bellaire 14 yard line.  Six plays later, with a full house backfield and Kuithe now as the tailback, they scored for the final time.  A Kuithe 1 yarder on 3rd and goal at the half yard line put the Cougars ahead 31-27 with 6 minutes and 46 seconds left in the game.

It was do or die for the Cardinals with 43 years of playoff drought on the line.  They went on a thirteen play, five minute drive for a chance to move on and play in the 13th week of the season.  Hubbell converted on a big 4th and 4 at their 48 to Alex Spadone for 5 yards to keep the dream alive.  Hubbell dinked and dunked the ball down to the 2 yard line.  Then Tavion Palmer took over at the quarterback spot.  The Cardinals ran the same play Lark scored on the 68 yarder earlier.  This time Bellaire would take their final lead 35-31.

Bellaire celebrated and stayed milling around for pictures and good times on the Rhodes field for almost 20 minutes.

Coach Kunz said this about the big win, “It worked out like we told the kids it was going to, when we are playing great programs in week 12 you are not going to beat them in first quarter, you are not going beat them 50 to nothing, you are going to have huge swings and lots of emotion, and you are going to have to win it in the 4th quarter when you’re tired and weak.”

by Glenn McCarthy

Players of the game-
Offense- wide receiver Courtney Lark
Defense- Defensive end Jaydeen Peevy and linebacker Nathan Lewis

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Houston Bellaire 7 7 14 7  - 35
Katy Cinco Ranch 14 0 10 7  - 31

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