The Port Arthur News
Indians head coach Brandon Faircloth has never experienced a losing season before, and the hurt was evident on his face, but the Port Neches-Groves boss refused to lay any blame. He chose, instead, to praise his young group of players.
“Sure, it’s disappointing,” said Faircloth, following the Indians’ 28-7 defeat Friday night at Livingston. “But I’m proud of this team. They fought hard, worked hard, never gave up, and never hung their heads.”
PN-G, missing the playoffs for the first time in Faircloth’s four seasons, finished the year 1-6 in District 20-4A and 2-8 overall. It was the Indians worst record since going 1-9 in 1994.
Backup quarterback Tyler Napier, playing for standout University of Texas commit Chevoski Collins, who was benched for disciplinary reasons, threw a pair of touchdown passes to Anfernee Wilson, and Marquis Thomas and Damion Collins each rushed for over 100 yards as Livingston improved to 5-2 in district and 5-5 overall.
PN-G, after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter and trailng by the same score at halftime, started the third period by marching into Livingston territory. But the drive ended when A.J .Smith’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Wilson. The next time the Tribe had the ball, they kept it for 18 plays but turned the ball over on downs at the Livingston 37.
The Lions, headed to a playoff matchup with Barbers Hill, marched 63 yards in seven plays, scoring on a two-yard run by Xavier Hutchinson with 11:02 left in the game. The Lions benefited from a personal foul penalty against PN-G, one of nine the Indians had for 94 yards.
“The penalties really hurt us, tonight,” said Faircloth, whose team dropped its sixth straight game. “We’ll have to improve on that, but this kind of thing happens with a young team.”
The Lions scored their final touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Napier to Wilson with 6:23 left in the game.
PN-G had success on the ground with Spencer Wommack contributing 67 yards rushing. Smith completed 18 passes for 158 yards, but once the Tribe got close to the end zone they self-destructed.
“I really thought we moved the ball well,” Faircloth said. “We just had trouble once we got close to the goal line.”
The Tribe, which moved the ball well enough to roll up 17 first downs and 312 total yards, finally put points on the scoreboard with 1:51 left on a five-yard run by Tim Clopton. It capped a 10 play, 63-yard drive.
The Lions wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. On the second play from scrimmage, Damion Collins gashed the Purple defense for a 62-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed but Livingston had a 6-0 lead after only 52 seconds had elapsed.
The Indians marched quickly into Livingston territory on several nice runs by Wommack, but the drive stalled and a 31-yard field goal attempt by Dylan East was no good.
Livingston used its running game and when the Indian defense crowded the line of scrimmage Napier completed a 27 yard pass to Thomas to the PN-G 33. Four plays later, Napier found Anfernee Wilson behind Dillon Hebert for a 16-yard scoring strike. Collins ran into the end zone for a two-point conversion and the Lions increased their lead to 14-0 with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
A.J. Smith marched the Tribe into Livingston territory and even threw an apparent 18-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Rose. However, an offensive interference penalty wiped out the play. Smith’s pass on fourth down was broken up and Livingston took over on downs.
On the Lions next possession, a touchdown run by Collins was called back on a holding penalty, and the Lions faced a fourth and five from the PN-G 40. The Indians defense stiffened and several defenders nailed Thomas for a three yard loss that turned the ball back to the PN-G defense.