Lone Star Gridiron

Port Neches-Groves Escapes Texas City 24-17

Class 5A Division II Area Round

Port Neches-Groves (9-1) vs. Texas City (5-5)

The Port Neches-Groves Indians faced off against the Texas City Stingarees Friday night 11/24/17 at Houston's NRG Stadium. Texas City got things underway with the opening kickoff - a pooch kick fair caught at the PNG 31. The Indians went 3 and out on the opening drive but the Stingarees responded on their first possession with an impressive drive featuring solid passing and a great run by #25 to the 1 yard line. It was then that the PNG defense stiffened stopping Texas City on three straight runs. Texas City settled for a 20 yard FG to end a drive that lasted 7:05 with a 3-0 lead. PNG ended the quarter driving the ball and down 3-0.

After switching direction, the Indians continued to drive the ball with the bulk of the carries going to Roschon Johnson and Gavin Deslatte.  They switched things up and went to a passing game that included a wide open Preston Riggs in the endzone that couldn't pull it down.  The Indians missed those and a 4th and 17 pass attempt to turn the ball over.

Texas City started at their own 20 with 10 minutes to go in the half and again mixed up pass and run well before being stopped at the 50 and forced to punt. PNG began with 5:51 to go in the half at their own 39. After missing and open Preston Riggs in the endzone, Johnson called his own number and scrambled 32 yards for the first TD of the game. At 3:59 in the 2nd QTR, PNG took the lead 7-3.

The teams swapped drives that came to naught but included big plays as well before PNG put together an impressive drive that included a 29 yard catch by Riggs and some good runs by Johnson. At 4th and 3 from the 5 with 9 seconds remaining before the break, PNG hit a 22 yard FG that included a penalty against  Texas City. Rather than take the points off the board and getting 1st and goal at the 2, PNG went into the half leading 10-3. They tallied 134 yards rushing to 63 by Texas City and 51 yards passing to 44 by the Stingarees.

The 3rd quarter saw Texas City start a drive that ended abruptly with an interception by Zane Hernandez deep in TC territy (their 20.) PNG started the drive by moving the ball quickly to 2nd and goal at the 5. Three consecutive false starts saw the Indians facing 2nd and 20 before finally getting off a one yard carry. The very next play saw Roschon Johnson connect with Riggs on a 19 yard TD score to take the lead 17-3.

Texas City's Zach Henry took the kickoff a yard deep in his own endzone and returned it 51 yards to midfield. Three straight incomplete passes wasted the field position and they punted it down to the PNG 31. The Indians too were stopped and forced to punt the ball away. Stingaree Zion Davis woke up the crowd taking his first carry of the game 82 yards for the first Texas City TD. PNG led 17-10 with 5:52 to go in the 3rd.

The fireworks continued when PNG bobbled the kick return and it was recovered by Jacobo Arrendondo at the PNG 31. They run it hard for three plays before going for it on 4th and 2. The screen pass was incomplete and PNG avoided the scare.

After three and out however, Texas City got the ball back at their 43. Arrendondo converted a key 3rd down with a 12 yard run before Jo'Vel McDaniel rolled for another 7. Unfortunately, that one was negated by a holding call. As the third quarter ran out, Texas City was sitting at 1st and 13 on the PNG 40 yard line down 17-10.

The change in direction didn't slow the Stings as McDaniel run in untouched from 18 yards out and tying the game 17 all with 9:04 left in the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, PNG's Nik Forman took the kick at his 5, bobbled the ball, scooped it up and scrambled to the 30 to stop the Texas City momentum from rolling over them. The drive which include a key 3rd and 1 conversion and scrambles by Johnson of 12, 14 & 23 ended up with a 18 yard TD run by Jose Ceja with 5:50 to go in the game. PNG led 24-17.

Their backs once again against the wall, Texas City started their final drive at their 25.  With a razzle-dazzle reverse halfback screen, the Stings made 7 yards on the first play. Jonathan Jones made a key 28 yard run to get the ball into Indian territory with 4:36 to go. He would go on to carry three more time but on his final carry dropped the ball in the endzone. The recovery by PNG with 3:01 remaining all but sealed the deal.

Port Neches-Groves proceeded to run the ball and run the clock for the 24-17 victory.

by Chris Doelle

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