By JOHN BLACK
BEAUMONT (Sp) - The La Porte Bulldogs dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball from the start here Saturday night and rode the strong arm of quarterback Jordan Jackson and the strong legs of running back Keith Whitely, on their way to a convincing 52-7 victory over the Beaumont West Brook Bruins.
The victory was the fifth of the 2012 season for the Bulldogs, against one loss. Head coach Jeff LaReau's squad now gets a week to rest and further recuperate, getting ready for their annual showdown with the Deer Park Deer. Kickoff for that contest is 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 at Bulldog Stadium.
The Deer and the Dogs are once again in the same district, so this one will carry more significance than the most recent meetings. Of course, when it's La Porte versus Deer Park, the records and stats and post-season positioning matters little.
La Porte is 2-0 thus far in District 21-5A play, and 5-1 overall. After Deer Park, the Dogs travel to Channelview; entertain unbeaten North Shore; and end regular season play on the road against unbeaten Port Arthur Memorial.
But let's not worry about all that now. Before we take that week of rest, let's focus on the success Saturday against West Brook - not always an easy place to play.
The Bulldogs took control in the trenches from the start. The offensive line welcomed Tony Briones back from injury, and still awaits the return of Maurice Morris. Word is he has a chance to get back on the field in time for the Deer. Stalwarts Jose Garcia and Justin King and Michael Leagan and Jared Howard and Trevor Nelson and Michael Rodriguez took the fight to the Bruins from the first snap, and the result was room to run and time to pass.
La Porte took a fairly quick lead in this one, starting from the Bulldog 28. Johnathan Lewis went wide right for 23 yards; Keith Whitely added two yards; Britt Grant went wide left for 13; Whitely took a pitch right for seven; and after a loss and a missed pass, the Dogs faced fourth and six from the 30. So Jackson went back and fired into the end zone. David Terrebonne was well covered but the pass was on the mark and David made a great effort to get to the ball, catch it and hold on. TD Bulldogs! Eric Medina booted the extra point, and the Dogs were up, 7-0, with 9:35 left in the first quarter.
So now turn it over to the D. With a brisk north wind churning up from their backsides, the Bruins tried to respond. But two missed passes and a stop by Corey Lee and Trevor Nelson forced a punt, and the Dogs got the ball back on their own 20.
Lewis went wide left for 13 yards; Whitely ran hard up the middle for seven; and Keith took a pitch right, broke free and was finally stopped at the Brook 25 - a gain of 35. On first and 10 Johnathan took a handoff going right to left, made a great cut up the middle of the field and sprinted into the end zone for TD No. 2. Medina made it 14-0 with 7:12 still left in the first period.
On the next defensive stand, Lane Albertson made a tackle; a Bruin pass was overthrown; and an end-around try was snuffed by Nelson and Mark Guzman and Hoza Scott, forcing another punt.
The next Bulldog possession did not result in a touchdown but did produce good field position as Medina had a nice punt into what was developing into a strong wind out of the north. The great field position was also the result of a combination tackle by Alex Jones and Albertson and Guzman; a snuff by Corey Lee; an incomplete Bruin pass; and a short punt into that strong wind, early in the second quarter after the teams had exchanged ends of the field.
The scoring drive started at the West Brook 26. It lasted one play, as Jackson lofted a beautiful pass to Jahvey Mark in the end zone. Jahvey had a defender on his shoulder but the pass was on the mark and the catch was a fine one. Medina made it 21-0 with 11:44 remaining before halftime.
Hoza Scott made a big stop for a loss of six on the next Bruin possession; Lee and Scott and Jones combined for a stop; and after the Bruins got their first first down of the night, Albertson made a stop and Guzman made a stop and Jones made a stop, forcing a punt. Grant scooped it up inside the La Porte 10 and returned it for decent field position at the LP 30.
What followed were two fumbles by the Bulldogs, but also some more fine defense. Credit John Nelson and Victor Holmes and Jesse Hickman and an interception by Whitely to stop the Bruins after the first fumble; and credit Justin Pickell and Jones and Pickell again and Garrett Green and an interception by Holmes after the second fumble. When all that smoke had cleared, the Dogs had the ball on the West Brook 41.
Whitely went up the middle for seven yards; he added a run of nine for a first down at the 25; and after a chop block cost La Porte 10 yards, Jackson threw a quick strike to Mark on the left wing. Jahvey made a great run, dancing and darting and fighting all the way to a first down at the West Brook 13.
Grant got two yards and Whitely added one, and the Bulldogs called a timeout with 35 seconds left before the half. When play resumed Jackson calmly lofted a pass into the left back corner of the end zone and Scott, in as a receiver on offense, went higher than anyone else and snagged it with 31 seconds remaining before the bands marched. Medina's fourth extra point made it 28-0.
Credit the Mighthy Bulldog Marching Band and the Chatos Drill Team with great halftime performances that drew loud applause from the West Brook fans, and credit the Bulldogs with taking up right where they left off once play resumed.
Touchdown No. 5 did not take long. After West Brook had mild success offensively, aided by a strange personal foul call against the Dogs on a third down run, the Bulldogs took possession on their 29. Whitely took a handoff right, saw a huge hole open up, burst through it and rambled 63 yards to the Bruin eight. On the next play Keith went wide left for the final eight yards, and Medina's kick made it 35-0 with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period.
Lee and Jones and Holmes led the defense to another stop, and the offense took over. A penalty backed the Dogs up to the West Brook 49, and from that spot came perhaps the play of the season thus far for the Bulldogs. Jackson, given plenty of time by the offensive line, fired a missile toward Johnathan Lewis, streaking down the middle of the field, behind two Bruin defenders. The pass appeared to ride the north wind just a bit too long - but Lewis reached out his left hand, grabbed it with that one paw, gathered it in and scored the touchdown. It was a beauty, igniting the crowd on both sides of the stadium and throughout the press box. Medina's kick was of course good and the Dogs had a 42-0 lead with 5:52 left in the third period.
Garrett Green had the third La Porte interception of the game on the ensuing Bruin possession, setting up two huge plays for La Porte. The first was a massive block by sophomore Grant that ignited the Bulldog sideline. The second was another school record by Medina.
Eric, one of the best kickers in the state, already owned the LPHS field goal record with a 55-yarder last year. Saturday night, with 1:47 left in the third period, he lined up for a 57-yarder. True, there was a brisk wind behind him. But this kick would have been good from 67. The three-pointer made it 45-0.
Jackson, having thrown four touchdown passes in the game, was replaced by Hunter Bozant to wrap things up offensively, and the Bulldogs used a ground attack that featured Whitely, driving to yet another touchdown. This one was credited to Clifton Figaro from two yards out with just over eight minutes left in the game. After Medina's kick, the score stood at 52-0 in favor of the Dogs.
The Bruins managed a meaningless TD late, but the stadium was still buzzing because of Jackson's impressive throwing performance; Whitely's excellent running; Medina's record kick; and the fabulous catch by Lewis.
It was a fine night to be a Bulldog.