The Port Arthur News
Immediately after his team’s momentous win, as he weaved his way through cameras and reporters, Nederland head coach Larry Neumann talked about the game being a collection of fragments for him.
Here are a few of the fragments that made up a 22-19 overtime victory against the No. 1 team in Class 4A:
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Senior wideout Seth Barrow’s catch of Carson Raines’ rope at the front corner of the end zone in overtime was the play of the game, but it may not have been the most touching moment of the game.
That came after all the Bulldogs had stampeded over to congratulate Barrow in the end zone, when they slowly trickled out of the victory mob, it was Seth and father Monte, the team’s offensive coordinator, walking side by side in close conversation that proved an enduring image.
“The design was a roll right,” Monte Barrow said. “Carson got flushed, extended the play and I was thinking we’d make some yards running it. When he let go of it, everyone’s eyes went to the end zone. Seth made the catch and I don’t remember the next 15 seconds.
“Someone told me that Seth put on Facebook or Twitter that not many boys get to play catch with their dads at Reliant Stadium. Not many dads get a chance to see their son make the winning catch in the third round of the playoffs.”
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The agony and the ecstasy. As Nederland ran over to celebrate in the end zone, Pearland Dawson cornerback Mario Thomas collapsed at midfield. He was attended by trainers, but it was unclear whether he had actually hurt his leg or was just overcome with emotion.
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The GOATs went on a stampede all game long. Nederland’s defensive line, nicknamed the Greatest Of All Time in The News last week, made its presence felt early and often. Each of the four starters also got to shine in the spotlight on at least one play in the game.
Koby Couron was disruptive off the edge all game, but made no play bigger than his stop on Dawson’s two-point conversion try after Tony Upchurch’s 75-yard TD catch. Couron knifed upfield as Dawson tried to run a pitch play outside to running back James White, snaring White and forcing a fumble that Dawson fell on to end the try unsuccessfully.
Brock Pryor made one of the biggest hits of the game on Dawson QB Josh Sharp. As Sharp tried to scramble away from the Nederland defenders who raced upfield, Pryor came down the line and hit Sharp from the side with a resounding smack. He had help finishing off the tackle, but definitely caused Sharp to wobble a bit as he got up to run the next play.
Caleb Malveaux made maybe the biggest stop of the game, putting White on the ground in overtime on a third-and-10 play from the Nederland 12. White had slipped at least one tackle before Malveaux got his paws on him, but the junior made sure he didn’t slip another and forced Dawson to kick a field goal.
Lastly, De Shawn Washington made his own impressive tackle for a loss, shooting through the Dawson offensive line to hit running back Brett Winnegan in the backfield for a five-yard loss. Washington moved quickly and powerfully to end the play before it began on a key third-and-14 from the Nederland 18 in the fourth quarter.
Couron finished with nine tackles, including three for a loss, and one sack. Pryor also had nine stops, with two for a loss, and a sack. Malveaux had five tackles and a sack while Washington had six tackles, including two for a loss.
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A ravaged Nederland offensive line proved just how resilient it has been all year in this game. Starting right tackle Dannis Latiolais was injured in practice on Thursday and missed the game. Junior Chris Henry got the start for Latiolais after spending most of the season on the sidelines himself with a broken foot.
In the preseason, it looked like Henry might lock down the starting center job, but his injury allowed Cole Brown to move into that role. Still, Henry proved capable when called upon in this game, with two of Kendrick Hopkins’ biggest runs coming on the right side of the line.
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After the game, one of Nederland’s assistant coaches was so fired up, he tried to lift up another coach, but the two ended up falling to the ground in a sort of tackle instead. They both popped right up, though, and got right back to celebrating the victory.
Another assistant coach was yelling afterwards that, “No one picked us. No one believed in us, and look at what we did. We shocked them all.” Everyone loves the Nobody Believes In Us team, and those are usually the teams that end up playing for championships.
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One of the game’s strangest moments happened in the third quarter. Dawson defensive back Josh Moten picked up consecutive personal fouls to give Nederland 30 yards of field position and two first downs. After the second, he appeared to get in an argument with teammate Mario Thomas.
Moten then was taken off the field by the Dawson coaching staff after taking his helmet off and throwing it to the ground. After going to the sideline, Mouton threw his helmet again, before taking off his pads and throwing them on the ground as well. He did not come back into the game.
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It wouldn’t be a Nederland game recently without Zach Taylor trying to hurdle someone. The supremely athletic all-purpose player for Nederland was inserted at tailback when Kendrick Hopkins banged up his shoulder again in the third quarter.
On a first-and-10 play from the Dawson 13, Taylor took the ball and ran towars the left side of the Nederland line. He broke into the clear and tried to jump over the Dawson safety coming to meet him. He mostly made it over him and picked up six yards on the play.
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Then there was Neumann himself, ball cap backwards as he waded through interview after interview in the post-game. He admitted how emotionally draining the game had been, saying that Dawson almost “gave him a heart attack,” but that his team was not surprised in the least by the outcome.
“Our team expected to win this game,” Neumann said. “We knew how well we could play and we know what we needed to do to get it done. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
Next week, Nederland will try to make it back to the state semifinals for the first time since 2001, when the Bulldogs lost to Smithson Valley. Bulldog fans can only hope that the fragments of next week’s game add up to as satisfying a tapestry as Friday at Reliant did.