‘Dogs come up short in shootout

Published 6:19 pm Saturday, September 16, 2006

By Tom Halliburton

The News Sports Writer

WALLER – Colton Johnson and Micah Mosley waged a one-of-a-kind individual shootout. Waller and Nederland did too, delivering a game for the ages.

The Texas Longhorns probably could have used this 240-pound freight train from Waller last week against Ohio State. A very strong UT pledge, Johnson dashed for a career-high 342 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries to guide Waller to a come-from-behind 41-38 victory over Nederland.

They were scrambling around midnight, guessing that each tailback not only established a career-high but also wondering if each earned a school record for single-game rushing superiority. Mosley followed up last week’s four-TD, 284-yard rushing night with a four-TD, 318-yard display on 32 carries.

What a remarkable Nintendo-type smorgasbord of fast-break football that each side produced. When statisticians finished counting, each side compiled 531 total yards in one of the classic modern-era Southeast Texas high school football shootouts.

The only element that hurt for Mosley, determined receiver Josh Cabra and company was that coach Larry Neumann’s team departed Bulldog Stadium at 1-2. Meanwhile, coach Jim Phillips and maroon-clad hosts celebrated their homecoming night on the high side of a 2-1 ledger.

“I definitely feel I could do better,” said Mosley, with his helmet atop his soaken-wet forehead.

Micah just delivered a virtual 48-minute display, working hard from his safety position, returning a punt for 23 yards, punting twice for 45 yards apiece and catching two passes for eight yards. That’s in addition to 32 carries for 318 yards, including touchdown runs of 1, 20, 77 and 58 yards.

As well as Joe Isbell, Adam Westbrook and Blaine Daniel blocked on the left side of Nederland’s line, maybe those three should share Nederland’s player of the week nominee, too.

“Our line did a great job,” Mosley said. “Personally I believe they’re the best line in the district. But everybody would trade the 318 yards for a win.”

Then in an act of sheer class, the thoroughly worn-out Mosley complimented his counterpart Johnson, who committed to the University of Texas last spring. The Waller senior countered with scoring runs of 41, 54, 47, 51 and 7.

The final scoring burst gave Waller the night’s final points with 1:38 to play, capping a 11-play, 82-yard winning drive which began with 6:22 left in the game.

“That guy is just a great back,” Mosley said. “He’s a hoss. He’s a real train at 240. He reminds me a lot of (former Port Neches-Groves running back) Josh Cook.”

While the pain of losing did not sit real well with Nederland’s head coach, Larry Neumann was quite proud of his team’s effort.

“It’s a tough loss and I don’t think our players feel very good about it, but there’s no blame on anybody’s part,” Neumann said. “Me and Jim (Phillips, Waller’s head coach) thought this game could go that way with all the high scoring. It was an extraordinary game. I don’t think either defense had the other offense figured out.”

Neumann was enormously disappointed that his defense was unable to keep better containment against Johnson, both inside and outside, but he dished the credit to Waller’s tailback for that problem.

“Our inability to contain him obviously was our biggest problem,” the Nederland head coach said. “His athleticism was the difference. Even our good tacklers couldn’t stop him. He was just an outstanding back and he was breaking tackles much like Micah did to them… We’re not going to beat ourselves up the way we played tonight.”

A former fellow assistant with Neumann at Clear Creek in mid-80s, Waller’s 17th-year head coach expressed his love for his coaching counterpart and insisted that the rough night at the office would help both teams.

“I love that guy,” Phillips said. “Larry Neumann is a coach’s coach and he does a helluva job over there. That was two hellacious running backs putting on one terrific shootout. They couldn’t stop our guy and we couldn’t stop theirs, but I guarantee you that game will help our defense to get better.

“People don’t always understand that, but I know it will. Our line did a great job but I didn’t think they would be able to control things as well as they did.”

If Mosley stayed on the field all night for NHS, Johnson duplicated it for the Big W. He chased Mosley frequently from his outside linebacker spot and also tried to pressure NHS passer Alex Moshier, who completed 12 of 25 passes for 176 yards. Moshier’s most prolific receiver was the ever-improving Cabra, who led all pass catchers with five receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Waller lacked Nederland’s statistics as well as its offensive balance. The Old Gold and Black led in first downs, 25-19; and possession time, 28:43-19:17. Junior quarterback Jeremy Phillips was a mere 2 of 4 for 16 yards. Without the ability to throw, Waller had to run, run, run.

Yet the hosts always managed to gain the necessary rushing yards play after play against a Nederland defense which had four new starters and struggled badly to maintain outside containment whatsoever.

A perfect example of that struggle occurred on the winning touchdown drive when Waller used 10 rushing plays out of 11 to cover 82 yards.

Phillips (11 for 68 rushing overall) kept the ball twice on the final drive for 15 yards. Fullback Don Nash (9 for 112) carried three times for 15 yards. The big freight train Johnson added 5 for 40, running his total to 20 for 342.

When it ended, all the Waller tailback could do was lean over and try to catch his breath.

“I’ve never been so tired,” he said with a big smile on his face. “That was my best game by far. Nederland was really good. They have an outstanding team and they can go far. They’re real disciplined. We had to play great as a team tonight…. Not just one individual but our whole team.”

With the tempo resembling a tennis match, Johnson gave Waller the lead three different times in the second half. His 47-yard dash around the left side erased a 24-19 halftime deficit. His 51-yard bolt lifted Waller up 34-31 with 8:38 to play. Then he took a pitchout to the right side and put in the game-winner with 1:38 to go. Those were touchdowns 3, 4 and 5 of the night.

Mosley hurt Waller’s defense mostly with a counter here and a counter there. His 20-yard counter gave Nederland a 21-13 edge with 6:19 left in the first half. When Johnson cut the gap to 21-19, truefooted kicker Logan Theriot hit a 41-yard field goal with six seconds left in the half for a 24-19 intermission advantage.

Mosley led Johnson in rushing yards at half, 128-115. Micah wasn’t done either. He popped the counter 77 yards on his first second-half carry. It was the first of two second-half occasions when Mosley got the lead back for the visitors. He also ripped out a 58-yarder for a 38-34 Nederland edge with 6:22 to play.

The Nederlanders have an open date next week. They will begin the District 22-4A schedule on Sept. 29 at Vidor.

“That’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen,” Waller’s weary coach said long after the night had quieted down.

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