The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Baytown Sterling controlled the clock, but the Titans controlled the scoreboard as Port Arthur Memorial authored its first shutout since 2010 in a 35-0 victory over Baytown Sterling Friday at Memorial Stadium.
The last time Memorial’s defense shut a team out was in Week Zero of 2010, when the Titans blanked Beaumont Central 38-0. It was the fifth shutout in school history.
“Matthew Romar and Walter Oliver wanted to come out and get a shutout, ” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “That was big for them. We let them play a little bit (in the second half) so they could secure their first shutout. They did a tremendous job and we’re real proud of them tonight.”
Both Romar and Oliver did their parts, as the pair of defensive tackles combined for 12 tackles. However, it was senior quarterback Ricky Fisk who stole the show for the Titans.
Fisk completed his first 11 passes on his way to a 13-for-15 night with 190 yards passing and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 129 yards on seven carries, including a brilliant 63-yard scamper down the sideline in the third quarter.
“Ricky has come a long way,” Harrison said. “He’s a leader and a hard-working kid. He’s the leader of the offense and he does a good job of running it. He makes some good decisions out there. I think at one point he was 7 for 7. That’s just Rick. He does such a good job on that.”
In a game that was never really in doubt, Baytown Sterling worked both the time of possession and the number of plays it ran. The Rangers ran 63 plays on the night, 30 more than the Titans. On the first drive of the game, Sterling ate up over seven minutes of clock before punting to the Titans.
But, when the Titans did have the ball, they were able to work magic. Of their seven offensive possessions in the game, Memorial scored on five of the. One of the unsuccessful drives came when Memorial fumbled at the Sterling 10 as the Titans were about to go up 42-0.
After the game, Harrison said that turnover stood out, as his team tries to play at a level worthy of the playoffs.
“We have a lot of things we have to correct,” Harrison said. “When we’re playing against a serious contender and in the playoffs, we have to get better. We have to eliminate mental mistakes. I’m disappointed in the one turnover. You just can’t have stuff like that. I thought we’d gotten away from that stuff. That’s one thing we have to point out and minimize. There’s no excuse for that.”
The defense was strong all night, even as Sterling seemingly gashed the Titans up the middle. Sophomore running back Elijah Chenier took the fullback dive on the triple option the Rangers used and picked up at least five yards on 12 of his 20 carries. Chenier finished with 20 carries for 113 yards as the Titans gave up over 200 rushing yards for the second straight game.
However, the Titans allowed the Rangers to move the chains a few times with the option attack, while closing down drives when necessary. The biggest example was when Sterling advanced into the red zone for the only time in the game.
After a 10-play drive moved the Rangers to the Memorial 20, Sterling took a shot into the end zone at a wide open Richard Zeno. James Jenkins broke on the pass, though, and closed quickly enough to break the play up in the end zone and prevent a touchdown.
On the next play, Gregorie Johnson tackled wingback Jaime Acosta for a 5-yard gain and then tackled quarterback Archie Moyers for a 2-yard gain. That brought up fourth-and-3, but a false start pushed the Rangers back to the Memorial 18. Moyers tried for the end zone again, but sophomore safety C.J. Levine was able to jump up and break up that pass and end the scoring threat.
On offense, one of Fisk’s strengths in this one was spreading the ball around to many of his receivers. All four of the starters on the outside caught a pass, with no one catching more than seven. Junior Roderic Rucker continued his prolific season, catching five passes for 78 yards and scoring two TDs.
Rucker kicked off the scoring in the first quarter. After that long Sterling drive to open the game ended with a 15-yard punt from the Titan 45, Memorial took over 70 yards away from the end zone. Six plays and 1 minute, 56 seconds later, Fisk found Rucker on a 10-yard pass in the middle of the end zone to make it 7-0 Memorial.
Rucker scored again in the second quarter on a 24-yard middle screen, weaving his way through almost the entire Sterling defense and accelerating into the end zone. That made it 28-0 with 1:46 left in the first half.
“We work extremely hard in the passing game, ” Harrison said. “We’ve gotten better each and every week. (Ricky) is very comfortable back there. Our offensive line is getting better at picking up blitzes. He’s getting more comfortable with his offensive line at this point.”
Fellow receiver Albert Jacobs scored on a similar screen six minutes earlier, going 40 yards up the middle of the field on a pass from Fisk. Jacobs finished with two catches for 49 yards, with both of his catches going for first downs.
Memorial scored two rushing TDs in the game, but neither were by the district leader in TD runs, Ricky Fisk. In the second quarter, freshman Kameron Martin scored his fourth career TD on a 4-yard run up the middle to make it 14-0.
In the fourth quarter, receiver John Leday took a reverse and showed off his speed by racing around the end 14 yards for the fifth and final score of the game. Leday finished with 67 all-purpose yards, catching seven passes for 53 yards.
Memorial (7-1, 3-1) will travel to Beaumont West Brook next week while Baytown Sterling (1-7, 1-4) is off next week before hosting LaPorte to close the season on Nov. 9.
Port Arthur Memorial 35, Baytown Sterling 0
Tipping point: Ricky Fisk’s 34-yard run on the Titans’ fifth play from scrimmage put Memorial on the Sterling 10 and set up a TD pass to Roderic Rucker one play later. It was one of three runs for Fisk that went for 19 or more yards.
“Special” teams: Sterling punted twice, averaging 11.5 yards per punt. The second only went for 8 yards. Memorial had 15 offensive plays that gained more yards than that one punt.
On defense: Eight different Titans had at least five tackles in this one. Junior linebacker Dante Lovilotte led the way with 11, while senior bandit Darius Lemora had nine.
Missing in action: Junior defensive end Melbrodrick Matthews missed the game with an injury head coach Kenny Harrison termed as “day-to-day.” In some sets, he was replaced by senior defensive tackle Mike Reynolds with Matthew Romar moving to end. In others, Romar remained inside and sophomore Terry Oliver took over for Matthews.
Imperfect outing: Junior quarterback Torian Lott saw his second action of the season, completing 2 of 3 passes for 5 yards. The first incompletion was on his first pass, a screen to John Leday. It was his first incompletion of the season, as he was previously 4 for 4 for 52 yards.