The Port Arthur News
With his defense playing well, and his offense having turned the ball over three times, Nederland head coach Larry Neumann knew some changes had to be made with the Bulldogs trailing 7-3 at halftime. So Neumann summoned his ground game.
Kendrick Hopkins rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown and Tanner Noel kicked three field goals Friday to lift the Bulldogs to a 23-7 victory over Goose Creek Memorial at Stallworth Stadium.
“We were having some success running the football,” said Neumann, after the Bulldogs outscored Memorial 20-0 in the second half. “But most of the stuff we do offensively and defensively is generated off things we do positively. In the second half we took control of the line of scrimmage.”
The determined Bulldog defense, rebounding from a mugging at Crosby last week, limited GCM to a pair of third quarter first downs, one coming on a penalty, and didn’t allow the Patriots to move the sticks again until the final drive.
“I was really pleased with our team’s second half of the game on both sides of the ball,” said Neumann, whose 1-1 team will face Angleton in the home opener next week. “The defense really rose up in the second half.”
Noel kicked field goals of 36, 24, and 23 yards and Preston White threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Colton Kimler with 2:09 left in the game to eliminate any possibility of drama.
Nederland stormed down the field on its first possession of the second half, with Hopkins providing a first down after an 11-yard run to the GCM 46. On the next play, Brandon Dial carried on the end around for 31 yards to the Patriots 15. Two plays later, Hopkins scored on a six yard run that gave Big Ned a 10-7 lead.
GCM fumbled on the third play after the kickoff and DeShawn Washington recoved at the 50 yard line. The Dawgs marched to the GCM 7 before running out of downs and Noel kicked a 24 yard field goal to increase the lead to 13-7.
Nederland held GCM and forced a punt on the second play of the fourth quarter. White completed a 19- yard pass to Dial and then the Dawgs turned to Hopkins and the running game. The drive stalled and Noel kicked a 23 yard field goal that increased the lead to 16-7 with 4:33 left in the game.
Travis Gallier intercepted a Conner Sollock pass and returned the ball to the GCM 22. On fourth down, White connected with Kimler on a 22-yard touchdown pass to increase the Nederland lead to 23-7.
The Nederland defense, shredded for 35 first half points in last week’s season-opening loss at Crosby, kept the Patriots offense in check in the first half. GCM running back, Legend Choudry, who had 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week against Lumberton, was limited to no yards on seven carries in the first half, and GCM finished the half with 8 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“We’ve got two big guys up front that have a lot of experience and we’ve got some younger players who are getting better every game,” Neumann said. “You can see it happening and it’s fun to watch.”
After a pair of interceptions in GCM territory, White directed Big Ned on a 12 play drive into GCM territory. But the drive stalled at the 19 yard line and Noel kicked a 36-yard field goal with 1:42 left in the half to give the Dawgs a 3-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived. Patriots quarterback Connor Sollock found Coby Schumaker behind the Nederland defense for a 64-yard touchdown pass with 58 seconds left in the half. The drive covered 77 yards in three plays and gave GCM a 7-3 halftime lead.