By JOHN BLACK
DEER PARK (Sp) -- With two playoff wins under their belts, the La Porte Bulldogs hope the third time will be the charm this coming Saturday when they go up again an old post-season nemesis -- the Katy Tigers.
The Bulldogs, under the direction of head coach Jeff LaReau, won the right to meet the Tigers this coming Saturday afternoon by virtue of their lopsided 42-6 domination of the Fort Bend Bush Broncos Saturday, here in Abshier Stadium. Katy reached the third round of post-season play Friday by downing Cy Woods.
The Bulldogs and Tigers were originally set to play this coming weekend at Reliant Stadium, but that plan fell through, so they will be back at one of their prior playoff venues -- Tully Stadium in the Spring Branch school district.
La Porte will be 11-1 at the 6 p.m. Saturday kickoff, and the Tigers will be 12-0 and ranked both statewide and nationally.
Against Bush Saturday, the Bulldogs rode a strong wind out of the south and a devastating ground game to demolish the Broncos in virtually every aspect of the game. La Porte scored three offensive touchdowns in the first quarter and had a 28-0 lead after the first play of the second period, enroute to a 35-0 halftime lead.
Let's start this report with praise for the Bulldog offensive line -- and we need to toss in accolades as well for kicker Eric Medina. The likes of Justin King and Jose Garcia and Michael Leagan and Maurice Morris and Corey Lee and Tony Briones and Trevor Nelson and Chris Webendorfer dominated the line play throughout the game, and played a particularly strong role in the early blitz by the La Porte offense.
Also, Medina had four straight kickoffs out of the end zone for the Dogs in the first quarter alone, further pinning the Broncos in hole after hole after hole.
After the defense snuffed Bush on the opening series -- thanks to plays by Chris Hickey and Aaron Nance-Garrett -- the offense got the ball on the Bronco 29 and moved quickly to TD No. 1. After Keith Whitely got nine yards and then added six and a first down at the 14, Taejon Wearen stepped off nine yards to the five. Whitely was held to no gain, but on third and one Wearen took a pitch left and went wide behind blocking from Devan Gay and Johnathan Lewis, scooting into the end zone with 8:40 still left in the first period. Medina booted the extra point and the Dogs were up by seven.
After booming kickoff No. 2 by Medina, the Broncos ran for two yards as Hoza Scott and Hickey made the tackle; got a yard on second down as Chad Sutherland made the stop; and could not run for the first down because a host of Bulldog defenders, led by Cameron Whilley, made the stop.
The Dogs got the ensuing punt at midfield, and the scoring drive was brief. After Whitely got seven yards, he took a handoff from quarterback Josh Vidales and went right straight up the middle virtually untouched. After Medina's second extra point boot the Dogs had a 14-0 lead and there was still 6:04 left in the initial period.
So here comes the defense again. Mark Guzman and Victor Holmes made a stop; Scott and Whilley made a tackle; Whilley made another stop, although the play resulted in first down No. 1 for the Broncos; Alex Jones and Aaron Nance-Garrett were there for a stop; and a strong rush forced an intentional grounding call against Bush. So the Broncos tried to punt and Scott blocked it and Whilley scooped it up and returned it to the Bronco 10. There was an illegal block on the runback, but the Dogs were first and 10 on the Bush 20.
A pass from Vidales to Jahvey Mark was stopped for a five-yard loss, but on second down Josh handed to Keith, who handed off to Johnathan Lewis. He went left behind blocks from Vidales and Trevor Nelson, and covered the 25 yards quickly to the end zone. Medina was true again and the Dogs had a 21-0 lead and there was still 2:32 left in the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Broncos got the ball on their own 15 yard line to start the second period -- finally also getting the strong southerly wind at their backs. It did not help. Ellis Hutchinson stepped in front of a pass in the flats, picked it off and blitzed into the end zone for TD No. 4. Medina's kick made it 28-0, and only six seconds had passed in the second period.
Malik Graves and Chad Hickey and Hutchinson had made key stops on the previous Bush offensive attempt, and on the next one it was Scott and Nance-Garrett and Malik Graves again who kept the Broncos from going anywhere. And when the Dogs could not move on the ensuing possession and had to punt, Whitely went down and made a jarring tackle. And though the Broncos had mild success on their next offensive effort, we will point out that Tyler Davis and Sutherland and Malik Graves and Davis again and Sutherland again and Davis again and Corey Lee and Jones again all made big stops.
Moving from their own 32 late in the second period, the Dogs reached TD No. 5 with 44 seconds left before halftime. Lewis got two yards; Whitely got seven; Keith added four; Johnathan got one; Scott ran for four; Hoza then added six and a first down; Lewis stepped off four; and after two unsuccessful aerial tries, Bush called a timeout. Not a good plan. On fourth down Josh kept left and ran for a first down to the 34 with 52 seconds left before the half, and on the next play Vidales found Wearen deep down the left side and hit him for a touchdown. Medina's kick made it 35-0.
After outstanding performances by the Mighty Bulldog Marching Band and the Chatos drill team, it did not take long for the Dogs to get TD No. 6. But before we tell you about that, we will note that the defense made a stop, led by Hoza Scott and Chad Sutherland and Tyler Davis and Mark Guzman. That last one by Guzman foiled a fourth-down try by the Broncos.
The sixth, and final, TD of the game for La Porte came on a drive of 14 yards, thanks to that Guzman tackle. After Whitely lost a yard and Wearen gained it back, the Dogs faced a third and 10. So Vidales tossed a short pass to Whitely and Keith followed Lewis into the end zone for the score. Medina kicked for the 42-0 lead with 5:03 left in the third stanza.
So now let's talk more defense. Sutherland and Blake Turlington combined for a stop on the next series; Malik Graves was on the spot on a Bush passing attempt; and Scott forced a fumble that the Broncos managed to recover, although they still had to punt.
Bush did manage one score late in the third period to cut the lead to 42-6, but by that time Coach LaReau was able to get a number of players on the field, and give some rest to the starters. On other Bush offensive attempts, Trevor Mouton and Guzman and Justin Pickell and Whilley and Tyrone Graves and Travis Baker all had nice stops.
It was complete domination.
And now comes Katy; 12-0 versus 11-1. Two of the top teams in the Houston area squaring off again, deep into post-season play. It should be quite a show.