By JOHN BLACK
BEAUMONT (Sp) -- It's called taking care of business, and that is exactly what the La Porte Bulldogs did here in the beautiful and spacious Butch Thomas Stadium Saturday night. They jumped to an early lead against always dangerous Beaumont West Brook and sprinted to a 38-20 victory in their last league game before post season play gets started.
The Bulldogs, under the direction of head coach Jeff LaReau, are the 21-5A champs. They are ranked fifth in the Houston area, and they have a 9-1 record thus far. But none of that matters now, because the second portion of the season is upon us -- the playoffs.
Up first on the post-season chart in the 5A Small School Division is a contest set for either this coming Friday night against Pasadena Memorial. The game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at Abshire Stadium in Deer Park. The Bulldogs will be the No. 1 seed out of 21-5A and Memorial the fourth seed out of 22-5A.
Against West Brook Saturday, the Bulldogs wasted very little time in getting on the scoreboard. After the Bruins hit a pass for a first down, the Dog defense stiffened as Ellis Hutchinson and Aaron Nance-Garrett and Hoza Scott and Chad Sutherland led the way. The Dogs took the punt and set up on their own 27.
On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Josh Vidales faked a handoff to Keith Whitely going right and instead handed off to Johnathan Lewis going left. Lewis went wide, broke past the Bruin defense, and sprinted down the sidelines and into the end zone, covering the 73 yards to paydirt very quickly. Eric Medina booted the extra point and La Porte was up by 7-0 with 10:30 still left in the first period.
Again the defense was up to the task. This time Malik Graves picked off a long aerial attempt, giving the Dogs great field position at the West Brook 34. This drive took a little longer, but it resulted in seven more points.
Lewis stepped off six yards; Whitely went up the middle for six more as the offensive line started taking control. Lewis then got three, and on second and seven Whitely took a handoff and burst up the middle untouched and into the end zone. The play covered 19 yards, and with the Medina extra point the Bulldogs had a 14-0 advantage.
The Bruins tried to get something going offensively. They hit a big run to the Bulldog 24, but that's when the LP defense stood its ground. A pass missed; a quarterback keeper got six yards as Chris Hickey was there to make the tackle; a pass missed as Victor Holmes and Nance-Garrett were there to break up the aerial attempt; and a short pass on fourth down was not good enough as Nance-Garrett stopped the receiver a yard from a first down and the Dogs got the ball back, on their own 15.
The offense got a first down before Vidales had to punt, and the defense was ready again. Sutherland made a stop; Malik Graves made a tackle for a loss of four yards; Corey Lee made a tackle for a loss of three; and a big rush by Alex Jones and strong pass defense by Hickey forced another punt.
Starting at their own 26, the Dogs marched to a 21-0 lead. Lewis ran for seven and then for two, and on third and one Whitely ran for the first down with a gain of eight. Victor Holmes then took a pitch and went wide left and ran all the way to the West Brook 44, for another first down.
Minutes later the Dogs went deep into the playbook. Facing a fourth and four, they spread the field in what looked like a punt formation but Vidales took the snap and darted right straight up the field to get a first down at the West Brook 20.
From that point Whitely took that same counter handoff to the right as on his previous touchdown and went virtually untouched into the end zone for the score. Medina made it 21-0 with 10:46 left in the first half.
There was no more scoring in the second period, but we need to point out a few things. First, Tommy Banda made a fine tackle on the ensuing kickoff. Also, when it appeared the Bruins were about to mount a successful offensive push, Holmes picked off a West Brook aerial attempt and returned it to the Bruin 40.
Also, what would have been a nice run ended up as a disaster for the Bruins as Hoza Scott stripped the ball out of the runner's hand and ran it back to the West Brook 42.
We should note as well that the offensive line was once again up to the task in this game. Credit Maurice Morris and Justin King and Tony Briones and Jose Garcia and Trevor Nelson and Michael Leagan and Blake Turlington and Jared Howard. We will add that Chris Webendorfer was ill and unable to play.
After a first-class halftime performance by the Mighty Bulldog Band and Chatos Drill team, the Bulldogs extended their lead early in the third period. The Dogs had a fairly nice drive to open the period, but it ended with a 33-yard field goal try by Medina that was wide left. It was a rare second miss for Eric in the game, but he would redeem himself later.
At any rate, the offense got the ball back quickly as Scott knocked down a pass try; Mark Guzman and Alex Jones and others had a sack and a loss of eight yards; and a short punt gave LP the ball at the WB 30. The Dogs were not there long as Whitely took a pitch right, was hit, broke free, and raced down the sidelines, diving into the end zone for the score. Medina kicked true and it was 28-0 with 6:55 left in the third stanza.
After a nice tackle by Conniel Lloyd on the ensuing kickoff, the defense was again too tough for Brook, and the offense got the ball back at the Bruin 46. Taejon Wearen ran for six yards and Whitely got a first down at the Bruin 34, before Jordan Jackson threw to Jahvey Mark for a first down at the 23. The drive stalled, however, so Medina came on and booted a 48-yard field goal with 2:03 still left in the third stanza to up the lead to 31-0.
Credit Sutherland and Corey Lee and Cameron Whilley and others with continued fine defensive efforts, and Scott put the icing on the cake with just under seven minutes left in the game when he perfectly timed a Bruin pitch, stepped in front, grabbed it and raced some 65 yards to the end zone. Medina's kick made it 38-0.
The Bruins took advantage of three La Porte fumbles to get a trio of meaningless touchdowns with under five minutes left in the contest, but by then the home team stands were mostly deserted and the Bulldog faithful was thinking of the first playoff match-up.