PORT ARTHUR — Don’t let first impressions fool you. The Memorial Titans came to play football.
In spite of a sporadic first half that saw missed opportunities and a plethora of penalties, the Titans rebounded to defeat Deer Park 19-16 in the opening week of District 21-5A play at Memorial Stadium.
“When we went in at the half, we told our kids that there wasn’t anything Deer Park was doing to stop us; we were stopping ourselves,” said Memorial Head Coach Kenny Harrison. “I told our guys that we needed to settle down and play football.”
The Titans, now 3-2 for the season, ran deep into Deer Park territory but couldn’t convert for touchdowns, settling for a pair of Ricardo Estupinan field goals for a 6-0 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Already up 3-0 after a 47-yard kick by Estupinan, it appeared the Titans would go up big after a blocked Deer Park punt. Meldrick Matthews broke through the Deer Park line for the block, which caromed all the way back to the DP 8 yard line where Memorial’s Dante Lovilotte fell on the ball.
True to PAM’s luck in the first half, three consecutive penalties forced the Titans backwards and the home team had to settle for the 25-yard FG from Estupinan and a 6-0 lead.
That’s when Deer Park’s offense came to life, scoring on touchdown runs of 25 yards by Connor Means and 1 yard by Trey Farmer to give the Deer a 14-6 advantage heading into the halftime break. Means finished as Deer Park’s top offensive worker, finishing with 100 yards on 12 carries.
“Our guys had a lot of jitters,” Harrison said. “It was the first district game after coming off a tough loss last week. We had guys pressing, trying to do too much. We were up against a tough opponent and our kids were excited. They made some mistakes.”