BEAUMONT - Rain or no rain, Orangefield Head Coach Josh Smalley wanted to play football. And on a night when so many Southeast Texas games were canceled due to the torrential rains across the area, the Bobcats may well have claimed one
of their biggest wins of the season in a 19-14 decision over Beaumont Kelly on Friday night at Bulldogs Stadium.
"The rain didn't really bother us. We were just happy to be able to play," said Smalley, whose Bobcats moved to 3-1 in non-district play, flipping last year's 1-3 season start upside down. "We have Silsbee next week and you always want to go into district with a win," Smalley said.
"This year we are 3-1 and you gotta take that for what it is. Wins are always hard to get, so when you get one, you take it and enjoy it."
For a while Friday night, though, it appeared that Kelly might enjoy an upset, as the Bulldogs - coming in as the underdogs - overcame a 13-point deficit to take a 14-13 lead with 9:03 left in the third quarter.
"Our defense played well the whole game," Smalley said. "That score before the half was really an offensive mistake. We missed a block and they hit us in the mouth and we fumbled the ball. They picked it up and the kid made a great play and scored a touchdown. But you have to give our defense a lot of credit for
the work they did tonight."
That hard work finally paid off in full late in the fourth quarter as Kelly started moving against the Bobcats after Orangefield scored to take a 19-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs managed to reach the OF 14 yard line behind the running of quarterback Allonte Wingate. As the Orangefield defense stiffened, Kelly was faced with a fourth-and-3. Darius McMahon took the ball off tackle but was met by the Bobcats in full force and Kelly turned the ball over on downs.
Ultimately, it was the play that secured the win for Orangefield.
"I'm proud of our kids," Smalley said. "It looked bleak at one point when we were down 14-13 but we found a way to get it done."
From the opening kickoff, it appeared Orangefield would indeed get it done in a big way. Keyed by a 44-yard kickoff return by Matthew Watkins to start the game, the Bobcats marched 64 yards in eight plays with Carl Wiley capping the drive with a 20-yard TD run.
Working most of the clock in the second quarter, the Bobcats scored their second touchdown for a 14-0 lead after a 17-play, 67-yard drive ended with a 1-yard run by QB Carmichael Wiley. The OF quarterback accounted for most of the Bobcats offense in the game, running for 135 yards to lead all rushers.
Carl Wiley added 95 yards rushing. The Bobcats' final TD came early in the fourth quarter when Carmichael Wiley split the center of the Kelly defense nearly untouched as he went 41 yards to
the end zone to cap an 8-play, 65-yard drive.
Orangefield now travels to Silsbee for the District 21-3A opener, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, while Kelly hosts Houston Kinkaid at Bulldogs Stadium.
Kickoff for that one is 7 p.m.