Texas trims Louisana 32-29 in Bayou Bowl

#73 Nick Pace, photo by J.Ronald Oswalt

Don't you just love to watch a football game that is hard hitting and exciting from start to finish? The game was very balanced in that there was scoring in each quarter, with the second-half scoring only exceeding the first half scoring by 5 points. Both teams fought hard from start to finish and the players seemed to have already developed a rivalry between the two states. Nick Pace (#73) blocking here on Ian Matherne (#97), illustrate that quite well.

The game started off with a blast, literally as #7 Jason Cortez took the opening kickoff from Texas' kicker Chuck Lee of Deer Park just inside the 5-yard line. He was blasted by #28 Vontear Edwards from West Orange-Stark just outside the ten. The football squirted free and was recovered by #99 Kyle Simpson of The Woodlands, and the Texans took over at the Louisiana 13-yard line.

QB Drew Tate then connected with # 82 Bennie Swain of Houston Madison for 8 yards down to the 5. Three running plays, a first down, and one more running play later, #3 RB Cermase Berry of Cypress Falls took the hand-off from Tate and ran into the endzone from the 2-yard line. Chuck Lee kicked the extra point, and Texas led 7-0. There were no other points scored in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Louisiana, who had been driving, stalled and faced a fourth-down and short at their 45-yard line. They decided to go for it, but Vontear Edwards disrupted play in the Louisiana backfield causing a fumble and the Texas squad took over on downs.

From the Louisiana 45-yard line new signal caller #12 Chad Huffman of Ft. Bend Elkins took the Texans 45 yards, scoring the touchdown himself, to put Texas up 13-0. The eight-play drive was capped by the 4-yard keeper by Huffman. Lee entered again, kicked the PAT, and Texas led the contest 14-0.

Later in the second quarter, Louisiana was forced to punt. The long punt hit Zach Muzzy on the segment of shoulder pads which cover the upper chest, and the football, like a "ping-pong ball slapped by a paddle," squirted up field. LB #56 Ben Murphy of Shreveport Evangel Christian picked the ball off about 10 inches above the ground at the Texas 24 and possession went to the Louisianans.

Looking at a short field, QB Billy Farris (#9) of Baton Rouge Woodlawn soon hit RB Darren Noel with a 14-yard pass and run as Louisiana closed the gap, 14-7.

Just two plays into their next possession, Texas turned the ball over again. This time QB Chad Huffman threw a pass into the left flat, but it was tipped by DB Jarmaul George (#1) of L.B. Landry HS at the 30-yard line, and picked off at the 31 by teammate DB Willie Bias (#32) of Rayne High School. Bias stopped just short of going out of bounds, turned to his left, and proceeded down the sideline towards the goal line. At the 15-yard line Bias was blasted from just inside the sideline to four or five yards off the field. The hit and subsequent tackle was made by Huffman, angry over having his pass tipped and intercepted and took it out on one of the culprits. The hit was all legal and proper, but upset or not, the football belonged to Louisiana and again, they were deep in Texas' end of the field.

The suspense lasted no time as on the first play from scrimmage, the same combination that provided the previous score struck again. This time Farris found a wide-open Noel, who had evidently split the defenders, alone in the left corner of the endzone for the touchdown. Patrick Spikes kicked the PAT, and the score was tied.

After an exchange of possessions, it was Farris' turn to err as he had a long pass picked off by Jonathan Denman of Ft. Bend Kempner, and returned 25-yards to midfield. Louisiana missed another scoring opportunity just one play before when a long pass down the right sideline hit WR Terrance Jones, who played QB at Port Sulphur, La., squarely in the hands, but as he attempted to bring the elusive ball into his possession, it toppled onto the grass. The play had "6" written all over it, but was just not to be.

Instead, Texas had the ball at the fifty with only 1:12 left on the clock. Drew Tate came in to lead the team 28 yards to the 22. With no time-outs left, Tate had scrambled to move the ball to the 22, but couldn't get out of bounds. Getting the first down, however, got the time-out he needed as the clock was stopped to set the chains. As soon as the whistle blew to re-start the clock, Tate took a quick snap and grounded the ball, stopping the clock with only 4 ticks remaining. Chuck Lee came out, lined it up, and kicked it through from 39-yards out as time expired and Texas went into the dressing room leading Louisiana 17-14.

The third quarter was marked by a stellar defensive effort by Texas, given that Louisiana, during the 3rd quarter never crossed into Texan territory. Both the Texas offense, however, and the Texas defense would score points in the quarter.

The first points scored in the third quarter were again courtesy of Chuck Lee who connected on his second consecutive field goal attempt. This three-pointer was good from 40 yards out, at the 7:13 point in the third quarter, and put the Texans up by 6, 20-14. Lee had one other attempt for three points during the 4th quarter, this time from 55-yards out, but the kick sailed wide to the right, but that getting ahead.

Leading 20-14, Texas was on the move again, but Tate was intercepted on a pass thrown into the left flat at the one yard line. QB Terrance Jones, who dropped the earlier pass took the snap from the center and was immediately surrounded and tackled in the endzone by Syndric Steptoe of Bryan HS, and Texas led 22-14 with 4:57 remaining in the quarter.

Suffering the safety, Louisiana had to free kick to Texas giving the Texans good field position outside their 35. Drew Tate was again at quarterback and moved the team to the Louisiana 32-yard line. Facing second and long, Tate was rushed and apparently threw the football into the ground. He was flagged for grounding, but another official in front of the play indicated #40 Jared Dolen from Barbers Hill in front of the errant pass and an eligible receiver. Much to the chagrin of the Louisiana coaching staff, the flag was waived off. On the very next play, Tate found #7 Zach Muzzy of Alvin HS in the left flat. Muzzy caught the pass, juked a defender, and zipped down the field and into the endzone to complete an unanswered 15-point assault against Louisiana, as Lee did his job and successfully kicked the PAT. Texas extended its lead to 29-14 with 3:42 left to play in the third quarter.

Looking back to the end of the first half, Louisiana was down by two touchdowns and yet, within a few minutes tied the score before Texas kicked its first field goal as time ran out in the half. Could they do it again, this time in the fourth quarter and down by 15?

Quarterback Billy Farris and his Louisiana teammates didn't waste any time. After Texas kicked off, the return moved the ball out to the Louisiana 38-yard line. What ensued was a 7-play, 62-yard drive that ended when Farris hit fellow high school teammate and wide receiver Chijuan Mack in the left corner of the endzone for a 15-yard scoring toss. Mack was defended on the play by DB Ricky Coxeff from Galena Park North Shore, but Coxeff missed and Mack didn't. Spikes was true on the PAT and Louisiana had narrowed the gap 29-21. The clock showed 7:10 left in the game.

After Texas took over after the kick-off on its 28-yard line, they appeared to be all business as Tate drove them crisply down the field to the Louisiana 32. It was not to be however, as Tate's next pass, thrown into the endzone was intercepted by #10 Marvin White of Port Barre HS.

Starting from their own 20-yard line and with only 2:57 left on the clock. Billy Farris went to work and with a series of passes thrown towards the near sidelines, Farris moved his team to the Texas 38-yard line. On the next play, Farris found his ex-teammate and current teammate Chijuan Mack again in the same place, the right corner of the endzone for the touchdown. The play ended a nine play, 80-yard, one-minute and twenty-six second drive that ended with the 38-yard touchdown toss. This left 1:31 on the clock.

The score was 29-27, so kicking a PAT was out of the question as Louisiana lined up for a two-point conversion. Farris took the snap and again hit Mack who this time faked right and went left to be left open in the right front about a yard or two deep into the endzone.

Louisiana kicked off to Texas, and when the ball hit at about the 15-yard line, it took a wicked turn to the right, towards the return man's left. The return man dove onto the football at the six-yard line. Now, during the latter two minutes of the game, but it might be five, but certainly in this situation in any event, when one team kicks off to another, time does not begin until the ball is touched. Since the return man touched the football and was down simultaneously, time never began. This put the Texas with their proverbial and literal backs to the wall, their own 6-yard line with 1:31 left on the clock.

With the Bayou Bowl title literally on the line, and with Drew Tate at the helm, these Texans showed some real Texas Pride and dedication as they moved 67 yards to wind up at the Louisiana 38-yard line with only four seconds left on the clock. Sound familiar?

Enter Chuck Lee who was selected as MVP for the Texas team who then calmly kicked the 45-yard field goal as time expired to give Texas the win, 32-29 in the first inaugural Bayou Bowl. QB Billy Farris was the MVP for Louisiana.

If you weren't there, you missed some great football, especially considering both teams only had a few practices this week to prepare. If you were there and left early, shame on you, but you should have known better having been there for the first half.

The current plan has the game being played in Baytown again next year before moving to an as yet, undetermined location in Louisiana. Best guess from this reporter would be Lake Charles. Certainly, with all the activities and such that were provided to both teams and given the competitive nature of this first game, the Bayou Bowl would loom to be destined as one of the top high school all-star football games played.

Attendance was approximately 8,500. Willowridge High School provided their high school marching band which marched at half-time and acted as the "home team" band.

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