By JOHN BLACK DEER PARK (Sp) - Well, it definitely was not pretty. But once you get into post-season play, the bottom line is simple - win and you keep playing; lose and you start concentrating on basketball.
The La Porte Bulldogs managed to pull out a nailbiter against Pasadena Memorial here in Abshier Stadium Saturday afternoon in the first round of the playoffs, thus qualifying for the second round, in a game that will be played this coming Saturday. The foe will be Fort Bend Bush, with the game at 2 p.m. Nov. 24 at Pearland High School Stadium.
But none of that matters now. The fact is, with absolutely no disrespect intended, the Bulldogs were ripe for an upset Saturday. Two of their best players were on the sidelines, and human nature tells you they had to be looking past Memorial to the second round.
Why? Well, they were told - for good reason - that a win over Port Arthur Memorial the week before would give them a more favorable start to post-season action. They got that win, and cannot be blamed for taking Pasadena Memorial lightly. But nobody told the Mavericks this was supposed to be an easy one for the Bulldogs.
It was, in fact, far from it. Memorial led early, 3-0, on the strength of a 32-yard field goal booted by a young lady. And the Mavs got a TD as well minutes later to go up by a 9-0 count. The Dogs were trailing by a 9-3 margin near the end of the first half when the Maverick coaches made what turned out to be a disastrous decision.
Memorial had the six-point lead; La Porte had no timeouts left; and there were just 30 seconds left on the clock on third down from about the Maverick 20. So you run out the clock, go to the locker room with the lead, and bask in the momentum, right? Well, apparently not. They chose to run the ball, it was stripped, and Victor Holmes fell on it for La Porte with 24 seconds left in the second period, at the Maverick 20.
The Dogs decided to air it out from there, and quarterback Jordan Jackson lofted one into the left corner of the end zone, where Holmes - the defensive back who also played quarterback and running back and wide receiver in this game - was waiting. Victor out-fought the Maverick defender for position and made a spectacular catch for the score. Eric Medina, who had booted a 42-yard field goal earlier to give La Porte its only score to that point, kicked the extra point and the Bulldogs went into the halftime dressing room with a one-point lead and the momentum they needed.
Not so fast, however. Somebody might have figured that would be a big turning point in the game and La Porte would take control, but that did not happen. The Mavericks went on a scoring drive and took a 15-10 lead midway through the third quarter.
But then the Bulldog offensive line started taking control of the trenches. Tyler Davis came on to join Tony Briones and Michael Leagan and Justin King and Maurice Morris and Jared Howard and Michael Rodriguez to take command up front, and sophomore running back Britt Grant started getting gains in chunks of real estate.
Grant was in the featured back position because senior Keith Whitely was on the sidelines with crutches. He may or may not be available later on in the playoffs. And Johnathan Lewis, another great running back for the Bulldogs this year, was unable to play as well, but could be back in action this coming Saturday.
At any rate, like we said before, the running game started clicking, and the Bulldogs soon had the lead back at 16-15, as both teams missed the extra-point try after their respective TDs. The La Porte touchdown, by the way, was scored by Jahvey Mark as he took a quick strike to the left from Jackson and made a couple of fine moves to get into the end zone.
But once again, here came the Mavs. They faced a third and 10 from their own 30 but hit a long pass straight down the middle of the field to the fullback coming out of the backfield, and though their extra point try missed again, they had a 21-16 advantage.
The offense for La Porte kept clicking, however, and Holmes, in at running back, got the final six yards to paydirt with 10:18 left in the game. The Dogs went for two and it did not work, but they were up by a 22-21 margin.
The Mavericks, however, had no quit in them. They kept making big plays on third down, and actually found themselves trying a 20-yard field goal to take the lead with just over four minutes left in the game. But a strong rush and a long arm hoisted by Hosa Scott produced the block and gave the Dogs the ball and new life.
They took advantage of it. Holmes went left out of the backfield, made a strong cut back toward the middle of the field, and raced 80 yards to the end one to put the icing on the cake. Medina made the extra point and the Bulldogs ended the scoring at 29-21.
When it was over, Jackson totaled 157 yards passing and the Bulldogs had two impressive running performances - 104 yards in all by Grant and another 96 yards by Holmes.
So La Porte dodges a bullet, and now looks to get some more people healthy as the post-season competition gets tougher.