By JOHN BLACK
Klein (Sp) -- The Klein Forest Eagles used a stout defense and some old-fashioned good fortune here Friday night to claim a 19-10 victory over the La Porte Bulldogs.
It was the first loss of the season for the Bulldogs against two victories, and they have to get back on the road again this coming Friday for a 7 p.m. battle against Atascocita.
Against Klein Forest, the Bulldogs were seconds away from going into the halftime dressing room with a four-point lead, when the Eagles got very lucky. In fact, they got lucky a number of times in the first two quarters.
The Dogs had taken a 3-0 lead on their first offensive possession of the game when Eric Medina booted an impressive 46-yard field goal with 8:40 remaining in the first quarter.
The boot was set up by a nice drive that started with Keith Whitely stepping off just short of five yards, then the Eagles were flagged for an offsides to make it second and inches. La Porte quarterback Josh Vidales kept for the first down, then hit Aaron Nance-Garrett for nine yards before Whitely went for six and a first down.
Vidales went back to pass and lofted a strike to Jahvey Mark that was good for 12 yards and a first down at the Eagle 32. But the drive stalled from that point so Medina booted it well through the uprights for the early La Porte lead.
The Bulldog defense held highly touted and A&M-bound Eagle quarterback Matt Davis in check on the first Klein Forest offensive try. After Medina booted the kick-off out of the end zone, the Dogs allowed one first down before Malik Graves made a fine tackle to hold the Eagles to just one yard; Chad Sutherland and Cameron Whilley snuffed a second Klein Forest running attempt; and strong pass defense forced a punt.
Well, it was sort of a punt. Davis lined up all night on fourth down as if he was considering a pass, then booted a sort of quick-kick. He got burned one time, however; more on that later. The Bulldogs couldn't move the ball on their next offensive possession so Vidales booted a strong punt all the way to the Eagle 14. And here comes lucky play No. 1 for the Eagles. Facing a first and 15 at their 25, the Eagles went back to pass. Davis was rushed hard and was very nearly tripped up for a loss in the backfield, but that strong rush produced no one for La Porte in the defensive backfield. Davis lofted a soft pass to a wide open receiver and it was pitch and catch, 75 yards to pay dirt. The extra point try failed, but the Eagles had the lead at 6-3.
Once again the La Porte offense had its troubles, but the Bulldog defense was up to the task its next time out, forcing another Davis punt after Corey Lee and Alex Jones and and Hoza Scott and Whilley all made strong defensive plays. And when the Bulldog offense stuttered again, the defense was ready for another stop. This time Malik Graves made two big defensive stops, setting up fourth and four.
This brought on a big mistake by Davis. He was lined up in the short kick formation and apparently thought a La Porte defensive lineman jumped offsides. So Davis fired a long pass that was no good, out of bounds. There was no flag, so the Dogs got the ball on the Eagle 38.
Whitely ran for three before Vidales threw to Blake Turlington for six yards. Sophomore Johnathan Lewis then went off left tackle for 21 yards to the eight. And on first and goal from there Hoza Scott went wide left, ran over an Eagle defender at the goal line, and scored with 7:30 left in the half. Medina made it 10-6 with his extra point kick.
The next Eagle offensive effort saw Turlington make back-to-back stops for La Porte, and when Nance-Garrett and Graves combined for a strong pass defense effort, Davis had to kick again. But the Klein Forest defense held off two La Porte offensive movements and the Eagles got the ball back with 1:42 left in the first half, at their own 44. They got it there because of lucky break No. 2: one of the refs who was right on the spot ruled that a Vidales punt had hit an Eagle player, and he awarded the Bulldogs the ball in Eagle territory. But another ref, farther away, apparently thought he had better eyesight, and Klein Forest was awarded the ball.
During the 56-yard drive to pay dirt, the Eagles got lucky two more times. First, a Davis pass was NOT caught deep in Bulldog territory. There were 10 seconds left before the half, and had the ball been caught the Eagles would not have had enough time to line up for another play; and secondly and most importantly, the last Davis pass of the half, with no time left on the clock, was tipped by the intended receiver and floated to the back of the end zone where a second Klein Forest receiver gathered it in. The extra point try failed again, and Klein Forest had a 12-10 halftime lead.
We won't have to spend much time on the second half. The Bulldogs had excellent field position twice in the third period but could not take advantage. The defense was still strong for La Porte, however, led by big plays from Whilley and Trevor Nelson and Ellis Hutchinson. And when a Bulldog fumble allowed the Eagles to set up on the Dog 27, here came the defense again.
Whitely had a nice tackle; an illegal block wiped out what would have been a Forest TD; and the entire defense kept Davis bottled up, forcing the ball to go over to the Dogs on downs.
La Porte then moved to its third possession inside Eagle territory in the second half, but the drive stalled and then disaster struck. An errant snap on the punt try resulted in the ball soaring over Vidales' head, and the Eagles got the ball on the La Porte 25 and took it in from there for the score that clinched it.