The Port Arthur News
BEAUMONT — Central’s Michael Jacquet scored on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal with six seconds remaining in the game to give the Jaguars a 24-23 come-from-behind win over Memorial Friday night at the Thomas Center.
Jacquet’s 1-yard plunge capped an 8-play, 58-yard drive that started with 3:13 remaining on the clock and left the Titans with just :06 remaining. Tayylor LaBrie’s Hail Mary pass on the game’s final play was knocked down by the Jaguars defense to preserve the win.
“Central came out and played a good game and did what they had to do to win,” said Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison. “One of our key goals was to come out and get off to a fast start and we didn’t do that. We had a couple of early turnovers and things that you can’t have happen to you that happened.”
After a sluggish first half, both teams came out and played much better in the second half, especially offensively. Neither team had 100 yards of total offense at halftime, but changed in the second half.
The Jaguars rushed for 160 yards on 43 carries and passed for another 187 for a total of 347 yards. Memorial, who had just 88 yards of total offense in the first half, finished with 268 yards, 66 coming on the ground and 202 through the air.
Trailing 12-7 at halftime, Memorial (0-1) came up with a big turnover on Central’s opening drive of the third quarter. The Jaguars had moved the ball to the Titans 31 before Dante Lovilotte intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 36 yards to the Central 36.
However, the drive stalled at the Jaguars 7 and Memorial had to settle for a Ricardo Estupinan 25-yard field goal to make the score 12-10.
After each team exchanged fumbles, LaBrie hit Roderic Rucker for an 86-yard scoring strike on a middle screen pass to give the Titans a 16-12 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Central (1-0) answered right back. Jacquet hit Garrison Mitchell for a 54-yard completion on the drive’s first play to put the ball at the Titan 21. On fourth-and-six, Jacquet bought some time by scrambling to his left before hitting Carnell Seals in the corner of the end zone as the Jaguars reclaimed the lead at 18-12.
Memorial’s Corey Dauphine returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to give the Titans good field position at the Central 44. On the very next play, Rucker took the handoff on a reverse and connected with Trenton Swinton on a 44-yard scoring strike to put the Titans back in front at 23-18 with 10:00 left in the fourth quarter.
The Titans forced Central to punt on its next possession. Taking over with 6:47 left in the game, Memorial was unable to run out the clock and had to punt the ball back to the Jaguars with 3:13 remaining. The Titans drive was thwarted by a high snap from center that resulted in a 15-yard loss.
“Eliminate the mental mistakes and turnovers,” said Harrison on what his team needs to work on for next week. “If we could eliminate both of those things, we’ll be in good shape.”
Making his first career start, LaBrie finished the game completing 9-of-17 passes for 158 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed eight times for 24 yards.
“He played well in spurts,” Harrison said of LaBrie. “Not bad for his first start. He’s got a lot of learning to do. We have to get back to work and get it done.”
Kameron Martin led the Titans with 34 yards on eight carries. Swinton hauled in two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Rucker caught a touchdown and threw for another score. Memorial, though, managed only seven first downs.
Central’s first three possessions of the game were all in Memorial territory, but it took the Jaguars until the third drive to finally put some points on the board. Taking advantage of a 9-yard punt by Estupinan, the Jaguars needed just three plays to punch it in the end zone from 24 yards out.
Thomas carried the ball twice for seven and four yards to put the ball at the 13. Jacquet scored on the very next play on a 13-yard quarterback keeper. The Titans blocked the extra point to make the score 6-0.
Memorial was able to flip the field position to its advantage in the second quarter. A 64-yard punt by Estupinan pinned the Jaguars at their own 4. The Titans forced a three-and-out. Following a 35-yard punt, Rucker’s 22-yard punt return set up Memorial at the Central 13. It didn’t take long for the Titans to score as Martin ran it in from 13 yards out on the very next play to put Memorial up 7-6.
The Jaguars, aided by a pair of untimely Memorial penalties, were able to score right before halftime to take a 12-7 lead into the locker room.
Taking over at its own 48, Jacquet hit Garrison Mitchell on a screen pass that went for 15 yards. A 15-yard personal foul penalty put the ball at the Titans 22. Jacquet scrambled to the 15 two plays later and another late hit penalty gave the Jaguars first-and-goal at the 8.
The Titans defense held strong for three plays, stopping Kamon Darby at the 4 on third down. The Jaguars decided to go for the touchdown instead of attempting a short field goal. Jacquet hit Mitchell for a 4-yard scoring strike with 2.9 seconds left in the half.
Jacquet completed 13-of-18 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 37 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. Mitchell caught eight passes for 136 yards and a score and Thomas led all rushers with 64 yards on 18 carries.