Cloverleaf (Galena Park), Texas–The Holiday Season is almost upon us and one the most charitable groups of all is based in La Porte.
The Bulldogs of La Porte might as well have been called the Salvation Army as untimely fumbles and penalties slowed or ended a number of drives all game long and the Clear Creek Wildcats defense did the rest in their 16-0 shutout of the Bulldogs in a UIL 5A Division II high school football playoff game at Galena Park ISD Stadium Saturday night.
Creek is set to take on Cypress Woods next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Turner Stadium in Humble in the Division II Region III Semifinals.
“People always talk about how Creek’s defense is iffy but we don’t listen to it,” said Creek defender Matt Seale, who scored the game’s first touchdown as he stripped the ball away from Bulldogs quarterback Jeremy McNeal for a 31 yard TD. “We just fly to the ball, [make big hits] and hope good things happen.”
Although the Wildcats (9-3) defense certainly made themselves a major factor, La Porte (9-3) did nothing to help themselves as their 8 fumbles (four lost) led to the Wildcats two touchdowns. Including Seale’s TD return, both scores came after the Bulldogs fumbled the ball inside their own 35 yard line.
In addition, the District 21-5A runner-up had 15 penalties for 115 yards, including 10 false start penalties. Due mostly to their untimely mistakes, the Bulldogs only managed to get into scoring position one time when Eric Medina missed a 36 yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the first half.
The Bulldogs offensive woes squandered an impressive performance from it’s defense, which allowed only 9 points, 11 first downs and 196 yards of total offense, including only 74 yards on 24 carries by star running back CJ McElroy.
“Our defense played their ass off, bottom line” said La Porte head coach Jeff LaReau. “We just didn’t help them out offensively and committing turnovers as well as penalties when we were trying to keep drives going killed us.”
Down only two touchdowns and a couple two point conversions in the first half of the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the Bulldogs offense was in no hurry to try and score.The Bulldogs eventually punted near midfield instead of going for a 4th-and-7 with about four minutes to go.
“We wanted to huddle up and be able to call some things and not put it in the quarterback’s hands and force him to make some decisions in the two minute,” he said. “That’s not really our forte and that’s why we did that.”
While La Porte had plenty of bad luck on this night, Creek seemed to be the beneficiary of lots of good luck.
Because of wind shifts, the Wildcats had their back to the wind no matter which side of the field they faced until the fourth. It was a huge factor in Tanner Graber’s 46 yard field goal barely sneaking over the crossbar to make it 3-0 in the second quarter. The only offensive touchdown came when McElroy picked up a bad option pitch that bounced off the ground and somehow eluded defenders on the right side of the field for a 16 yard TD with 4:35 remaining in the third.
“It was a good win, we made school history,” said Creek running back Colby Davis.
Davis is referring to the fact that the win was the Wildcats fourth playoff win in it’s 80 year history and sent them to their first ever trip to the third round. Creek head coach Darrell Warden has 3 of the 4 playoff wins.
“That’s what we talked about all week,” Warden said. “[I said] let’s make history–and the kids bought into it.”
In the losing effort, the Bulldogs were led by Jeremy McNeal’s pasing and running, as he ran for 108 yards on 21 carries and went 13-22 for 111 yards. Anthony Webb had 63 yards on 18 carries. La Porte had 288 yards of total offense and 17 first downs.