PORT ARTHUR —
Area high school scouts were impressed in pregame as Ricardo Estupinan was booming field goals from 57 yards out.
Estupinan, however, missed his only kick with under a minute left on the clock,ending the hopes of a miraculous rally by the Port Arthur Memorial Titans.
Houston Bellaire left town with a 45-42 victory in a game in which the day's stormy weather was surprisingly almost a non-factor.
Estupinan can hardly be blamed for the loss as Memorial turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, helping the Cardinals build get out to a 31-7 halftime lead.
Memorial reeled off 21 unanswered points and did take a lead late in the fourth quarter when Kameron Martin ran in a 33-yard touchdown to give the Titans 42-38 with 5:12 remaining on the clock.
Bellaire promptly responded with a six-play drive that ended with a
seven-yard touchdown hookup from Trevon Smith to Ryheem Malone with 2:48 left in the game.
Estupinan almost never even got the chance at the potential game-tying field goal. Memorial had a fourth down pass fall to the ground with 1:44 remaining, yet a pass interference call gave the Titans new hope.
Three running plays moved the Titans down to the Cardinals 25-yard line and the 42-yard field goal sailed to the right.
“We fought the entire game tonight,” Titans Coach Kenny Harrison said. “We let ourselves get put in a huge hole to start the game. You cannot get down 31-7 and expect to win. We showed some character by battling back. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Memorial fumbled on the opening drive of the game which led to Bellaire scoring on its first play on a 33-yard run by Xavier Campbell.
Bellaire later fumbled but the Titans could not turn the misfortune into points as Memorial Tayylor Labrie was intercepted by Chris Woka.
Martin was a workhorse for the Titans with 20 carries for 217
yards and four touchdowns. Corey Dauphine rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries while Labrie added 22 yards on the ground. The Titans rushed for 305 yards as a team.
“Our running game is starting to take shape,” Harrison said. “Both our running backs both ran hard tonight and credit our offensive line.”
Labrie threw for 198 yards on 14-for-19 passing with one interception. Trenton Swinton hauled in five receptons for 75 yards while Torian Lott had four catches for 54 yards and Albert Jacobs had four receptions for 52 yards.
Another huge problem for the Titans on the night was in the rush defense category. The Cardinals gashed Memorial's defense for 329 yards. Bellaire quarterback Trevon Smith threw for 92 yards on just five completions. The Cardinals only passed the ball nine times in the game.
Xavier Campbell led the Cardinals with 120 yards on 16 carries while Reshard Waddel added 89 yards on 12 totes.
The best news Harrison brought out of Friday’s loss was the fact
Memorial’s 2-2 record means nothing for the rest of the season. The Titans start District 21-5A play next week at Memorial Stadium against Deer Park.
“Next week we are 0-0 and that is all that matters,” Harrison said. “We still had a lot of bright spots in this game. Our players must understand the fact this doesn’t define our season. We have to continue to keep pushing forward and we can get the wins in district play.”