By JOHN BLACK
GALENA PARK (Sp)--Bulldog head coach Jeff LaReau has said it dozens of times--when it comes to the playoffs, the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win 99 out of every 100 games. This past Saturday night, La Porte made mistake after mistake after mistake, and the result was a 16-0 loss to the Clear Creek Wildcats and elimination from post-season play.
We can break this one down, basically, to one play, as an example of the way things went for the Bulldogs here in Galena Park Stadium all night. La Porte was trailing by 10, mostly the result of penalties and lost fumbles. But the Dogs had the Wildcats in something of a hole, facing a third and goal from the 17. The Cats ran an option right, pitched it, and the ball hit the turf, bounced up and into the hands of the running back, who danced into the end zone.
In a most uncharacteristic display, La Porte had 15 penalties on the night for 115 yards, and something on the order of an even dozen of those flags were for false starts. The Bulldogs also had eight fumbles in the game, and they lost four of them.
That, however, is the bad news. The good news, and the thing all Bulldog fans need to remember at this point, is that La Porte has now played nine playoff games in three years. They are 6-3 in post-season action in those three years. That is a record many, many high schools in Texas would love to have.
This will be painful, for sure, but here's what happened: The Wildcats had first possession, and two hard stops by Cameron Whilley and strong pass coverage on third down forced a punt. This was a game of inches in many ways, and the first example came when the Dogs got the ball at the Wildcat 47 for their first possession, and on the first play, Jeremy McNeal lofted a pass to tight end Blake Turlington. It was inches high, and the Dogs could not get a first down after that, wasting great field position. That first pass connects and the Dogs might well have been on their way.
After the Josh Vidales punt, again the defense held. Creek made it to the Bulldog 43 on its next drive, but the Cats faced a fourth and inches at the Bulldog 43 and went for it and Jarmarcus Erskin and others made the stop, giving the Dogs the ball back.
A dropped pass cost the Dogs a first down, but they got lucky as Creek was penalized five yards and La Porte needed just four for a first down. Two runs by McNeal on sweeps got a pair of first downs, but the false start bug starting biting, and Vidales had to punt for the second time. This time the Creek offense clicked enough to get into range for a 46-yard field goal, and it was good with 11:15 left in the first half. Again, it was a game of inches, and the boot skimmed the upright and barely made it over, but Creek had the 3-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the halftime break, but not before the Bulldogs had one last chance to score. Starting at their own 21, the Dogs got 12 yards from Anthony Webb; overcame another false start; got a nice run from Jeremy to the Creek 40; got an 11-yard pass completion from McNeal to Justin Collins; got an eight-yard run from Jeremy; dropped a pass; got a great spinning run from McNeal to a first down at the 17 with 51 seconds left; stalled; and watched Eric Medina's field goal try from 36 yards miss wide left.
So you're thinking, no problem, down just three points, we get the ball to start the third quarter. Let's sit back at halftime and watch the Mighty Bulldog Marching Band and the Chatos drill team put on outstanding performances, then we'll get back on the field and get some points on the board.
Wrong. McNeal, fighting for yardage in what turned out to be his final game as a Bulldog, lost the handle on the ball--right into the arms of a Wildcat defender, who ran it 30 yards into the end zone for a 10-0 Creek lead.
We told you already about that fumble that bounced into the Creek running back's hands, leading to their second touchdown and the 16-0 lead, so we won't go over that again. That ended the scoring, and the rest of the game featured strong defense on the part of the Bulldogs, and more fumbles and false starts on the part of the offense.
Creek had only 208 total yards in the game but 16 points, while La Porte had 288 yards of offense but no points.
We want to point out that on those fumbles, virtually every one game on a play when a Bulldog was fighting for extra yardage. This just was not La Porte's night, so thus ends a fine 9-3 season with another multi-game playoff showing.
We'll have a further recap of the season this coming week.