LUMBERTON — It was a night of total mismatches and the Port Neches-Groves Indians were the beneficiaries of all the mismatches on this muggy Friday night in Lumberton.
Using the passing of junior Ky Walker and the rambling runs of junior Brant Halfin, the Indians dominated Lumberton in every single category in rolling to a 45-0 District 20-4A opening win.
And this was actually a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.
Brandon Faircloth’s Indians move to 3-1 on the year, but more importantly, burst out of the starting gates in league play with their resounding victory. Lumberton, falls to 0-4 and 0-1 in district play.
PN-G scored early, scored frequently and rang up an astounding 34 first downs on the night, including 25 in the opening two quarters when it almost blew out the scoreboard light rolling to a 38-0 halftime lead. The Raiders managed just nine first downs on the entire night.
All in the first half, Walker was flawless through the airways torching the Raider secondary with six-yard and 18-yard touchdown strikes to senior Jeremiah Rose, and another TD toss to a wide-open senior fullback Reece Wardlow over the middle covering 20 yards.
On the night, Walker was 15-of-23 for 191 and no interceptions. He divided his passes to five different receivers in the first two quarters with Rose and Wardlow the main recipents of Walker’s on-the-money passes.
Rose, who played on a couple of minutes in the second half, caught seven passes for 78 yards in the first half, while Wardlow grabbed four for 69 yards also.
Most of the Indian starters played just the first half, but in the time they were on the field, it was a mismatch of major porportions against the outmanned Raiders.
Together with Walker’s passing, fellow junior running back Halfin powered his way for 126 yards on just 12 carries and scoring once on a nifty reverse counter play over the left side early in the second period.
Halfin had runs of 27, 14, 20, and 17 in his two periods of action.
Combining the passing-running combo of Walker and Halfin, the Indians also proved they can score in other ways.
Talented senior placekicker Dylan East booted a 40-yard field goals late in the first period, and was a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs.
Following East’s FG, a kicked that could have easily been good from 50 yards or more, the Indians struck right back on Lumberton’s best and only consistent drive of the night.
As the Raiders had driven to inside the PN-G 30, junior linebacker Michael Hughes threw the knockout punch by intercepting Drew Manley’s pass at the Indian 12-yard line and rambling down the sideline untouched 88 yards for a touchdown and a PN-G 17-0 lead with 0:50 left in the opening quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Adam Morse played the entire second half and capped off the Indian’s scoring with a one-yard plunge with 1:10 left in the contest.
Displaying total domination on both sides of the line of scrimmage, the Indians lead in first downs 34-to 9, yards rushing 213-to-59, and total yards 429 to Lumberton 158. Most of the Raiders’ yardage came in the second half against PN-G reserves.
The Indians were in control of this game from the start and never even punted.
Joining in the offensive slugfest on the ground for PN-G were a pair of punishing running backs in sophomore Kody Cropper and senior Dominique Duhon. Cropper ran nine times for 47 yards and Duhon added 44 yards on seven trips.
Both backs racked up all their yardage in the second half.
When the Indians’ first offensive unit was on the field, linemen like Aaron Orozco, Taylor Hanley, Keaston Benoit, Allan Soriano and Hunter Hanratty manhandled the Raider defense.
Coming into the game allowing 396 yards a contest, the Indian defense was outstanding (especially in the first half when starters were in). On the night, Lumberton had just 59 total yards rushing on 22 tries.
PN-G’s defense was in control all night forcing the home team to punt four times in the first half and never allowing Lumberton to get anything going. Even with reserves playing the entire second half, the Raiders were totally ineffective throughout the evening.
One of the big stories of the night was the big play ability of the Indians. Amazingly, the Indians had 20 offensive plays over 10 yards, including runs of 27, 19, 14, 20, 17, 22 and 19 yards. On the passing side, Walker had completions of 10, 12, 13, 12, 12, 18, 14, 19, 25, 20 and 11. Backup Morse also completed a 25-yarder to add to the night.
The Indians return to The Reservation next Friday hosting Little Cypress-Mauriceville.