The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Ky Walker hit Jeremiah Rose for a 21-yard scoring strike and Kaleb Sparks’ run for a two-point conversion provided the final margin in Port Neches-Groves’ thrilling 31-29 triple-overtime win over Central Friday night at the Reservation.
The Indians defense needed to come up with a big stop on the Jaguars ensuing possession of the third overtime. After quarterback Michael Jacquet scrambled for 13 yards, he connected with Ian Bramble on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Needing to convert a two-point conversion to force a fourth overtime, Jacquet was flushed out of the pocket, scrambled to the right and was taken down in the backfield by Michael Hughes to preserve the hard fought win for the Indians.
“We were fortunate to make a play at the end,” said PNG coach Brandon Faircloth. “It’s a two-half game. We made some good adjustments and we were able to put some points on the board in the second half. This is District 20-4A now, it’s like this every Friday night. We’ve got to strap it on because we have Nederland next week and it goes on and on from there.
“Great win tonight and we’re going to really enjoy it, but in 20-4A you’ve got to come to play every week or you could lose.”
PN-G improved to 4-2, 2-1, while Central dropped to 3-3, 2-1.
Both teams missed field goals in the first overtime period. Dylan East was wide right on a 24-yard field goal attempt for PNG and Jose Cadlera missed wide left on his 30-yard attempt for the Jaguars.
Central struck first in the second overtime. Damon Thomas scored on a 12-yard run around left end and a Juan Perez extra-point gave the Jaguars a 23-16 lead.
PN-G responded with a dramatic score of its own. On fourth-and-nine, Walker hit Brant Halfin for a 24-yard touchdown toss to tie the game at 23-23 and set up the third overtime.
Halfin was a workhorse for the Indians all night. He led all rushers with 197 yards on 39 carries. Walker completed eight-of-24 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m just proud of him. He settled down and made some plays when he needed to,” said Faircloth of Walker. “I’m really excited for him. He’s a good player and he needs to just stay with it.”
Central sent the game into overtime with a clutch drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Trailing 16-8, the Jaguars took possession from their own 25 with 3:29 left. Jacquet hit Kamon Darby for a 40-yard completion to the PNG 35 on the drive’s opening play.
Jacquet connected with Carnell Seals for 12-yards to the Indians 20. Jacquet scrambled for eight yards and a 2-yard run by Darby gave the Jaguars first-and-goal at the 10. An 8-yard run by Darby put the ball at the 2 and Jacquet scored two plays later on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 12 seconds remaining. Jacquet hit Garrison Mitchell for the two-point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Prior to that drive, the Indians defense had held the Jaguars scoreless in the second half.
“I’m proud of them and they did great,” said Faircloth of his defense. “They played with heart and that’s what we had to do. We made some adjustments that maybe slowed them down a bit, but Central’s a great team and well coached.”
PN-G reclaimed the lead on the opening drive of the third quarter. Halfin carried four times for 23 yards and the Indians were aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Jaguars. Walker capped the drive with an 11-yard scoring strike to Reece Wordlow to give the Indians a 9-8 lead.
The Indians extended that to 16-8 midway through the fourth quarter. The drive featured nine straight runs by Halfin, the last of which was a 3-yard touchdown run. The nine carries covered 61 yards and took 3:20 off the clock.
PNG took advantage of a Central miscue to start the scoring. Forced to punt from the Indians 34, the snap from center sailed high over the head of the Jaguars punter and out of the back of the endzone for a safety and a quick 2-0 PNG lead.
Central scored the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter on Mitchell’s 26-yard touchdown reception from Jacquet. The short scoring drive was set when Sparks fumbled the handoff on an end around. It was recovered by Andre Morris and returned to the PNG 22.
Jacquet completed 11-of-26 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 56 yards on 11 carries and a TD. Darby led the Jaguars with 88 yards on 22 carries and Thomas carried the ball 10 times for 57 yards.