Lone Star Gridiron

Humble Kingwood Survives Clear Lake 38-30

Class 6A Division II Area Playoffs

Humble Kingwood Mustangs (5-5) vs. Clear Lake Falcons (8-3)

The Kingwood Mustangs and the Clear Lake Falcons faced off at Houston NRG Stadium Saturday 11/25/17 for the right to move on to the next round of the Texas high school football playoffs.

Kingwood began the action with the first drive. Four plays in and it was a Mustangs 7-0 lead when Ryan Jones scrambled untouched on a 34 yard run. Clear Lake responded by going three and out.  Kingwood followed that with a couple of good gainers before their offense too faltered going yardless on three straight attempts to get one yard.

Clear Lake finally got things rolling when Kris Mason caught a 25 yard pass to get the ball inside the 5. On fourth and goal, Shea Suiaunoa dove in for the seeming TD but it was called back on holding. The Falcons instead settled for a 28 yard FG to cut the Kingwood lead to 7-3 with 2:25 remaining in the 1st. The score would remain until the period ran out.

The second quarter began with Kingwood driving. The first play, QB Matt Slayton ran up the gut and went untouched 49 yards for the touchdown. The score 14-7, Kingwood. Clear Lake responded when Brendon Holmes returned the kickoff to the Kingwood 43. The Falcons then proceeded to reel off 5 straight runs down to the 17 when a penalty moved them even closer. Facing 1st and goal at the 7, Suiaunoa hit Ja'Kori Morgan in the endzone for the toe-tapping TD. 14-10 Kingwood 9:56 2QTR.

Kingwood looked to respond but when Jack Nance blasted into their backfield causing a 5 yard loss, things looked bad. The very next play, Tre Richardson made a dramatic sideline catch for 31 yards to put the Mustangs in enemy territory. The drive stalled though when Kingwood failed to convert a fourth down attempt giving the ball back to Clear Lake. The Falcons were unable to take advantage of the freebie though as they soon punted the ball back with 5:43 to go in the half.

Kingwood was unable to respond again giving the ball back to Clear Lake after a short drive but pinning them down at their own 14.  That changed fast when Christan Marullo streaked down the sideline 51 yards before being knocked out at the Kingwood 30. Three plays later, the Falcons faced 4th and 1 at the 21 and chose to go for it. The defensive push led by Aaron Finch got the ball back for the Mustangs when he pinned the ball carrier for a loss. The team swapped a mixed bag of no gainers and dramatic plays that ended in nothing and went into the break with a score of 14-10 Kingwood.

The second half started with fireworks. Clear Lake's Suiaunoa scrambled 50 yards to the endzone giving them their first lead 16-14. On Kingwood's following drive, they were stymied and looked to punt it away. The punt was blocked by Brian Holloway and recovered by Preston Schaulin in the endzone to extend the Clear Lake lead to 23-14.

Kingwood again responded - this time with a drive that included 45 yards in penalties and culminated with a 23 yard TD grab by Nolan Powell in the front corner of the endzone. This cut the Clear Lake lead to 23-20 with 5:00 left in the 3rd.  The Falcons took the next drive to paydirt when Suiaunoa ran up the middle on a key 4th and 5 to setup Clear Lake 1st and goal at the 1. Two plays later he repeated the run for his second TD of the night and the 30-21 lead that would hold to the end of the 3rd.

The final quarter began with a Clear Lake tipped pass to Aaron Finch giving Kingwood yet another spark. Some trickery later, with a backward pass, had Kingwood looking at 1st and goal at the Clear Lake 1. Finch sauntered in for the easy score to make it Clear Lake 30, Kingwood 28 with 11:38 remaining in the season for one team.

Kingwood went deep into the playbook again on their next drive pulling off a 28 yard fake punt putting the ball in Clear Lake territory at their 34. The Falcons again stepped up on D and put them in 4th and 5. Once again, the Stangs went for it with an outside run by Powell that earned another 1st down - this time at the 22. Two plays later Powell took the same play 21 yards for the go-ahead score - BUT, it was called back on a holding call. Again they faced a 4th down - this time from the 20. With 3:32 left in the game and down by 2, Kingwood chose to take the 37 yard FG by Connal Fisher and the lead 31-30.

Starting on their own 24 with 3:20 to go, Clear Lake's offense took the field. That offense came up short when Michael Mark notched a big sack for Kingwood. At 4th and 16 on their 28, the Falcons tried one last time but the sack ended the drive and seemingly their season.

In an odd ending, Kingwood walked in for the 25 yard score while Clear Lake stood and watched. The idea is to get the ball back down 38-30 and give them a chance to put the game into overtime.

Looking for another miracle, Clear Lake started the final drive on their 35 with one time out and 1:26 remaining. It was a valiant effort by the Falcons but the clock ran out on their season just four yards shy of the TD.

Kingwood will face Langham Creek in the next round.

Chris Doelle

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