Special teams leads West Orange-Stark past Bridge City
The special teams for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs were a little bit more “special” than that of the Bridge City Cardinals Friday night at Hooks Stadium.
The third phase of the game paid dividends for the host Mustangs, who capitalized on a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns from Quinton Tezeno that helped lead WO-S to a 21-16 victory and sole possession of first-place in the District 21-3A race.
Tezeno brought back a punt 37 yards for a score and a kickoff back 73 yards for another touchdown in the first period and Mustang quarterback Jimmy Salter connected with sure-handed receiver Larry Sonnier on what was the game-winning points on a 34-yard touchdown strike early in the fourth period.
“The third phase of the game really paid off for us,” said WO-S coach Cornel Thompson. “We’re really happy for Quinton Tezeno. That kid has tremendous talent and we’ve been telling him that he needs to have a little more confidence in himself and I think he gained some tonight. This win was a much-needed victory and it can only help our confidence when we head to Silsbee next week.
“We defeated a very talented Bridge City unit tonight. That offense is so hard to contain but we made some stops in some critical situations when we had too.”
The Cardinals (6-2, 2-1) piled up 367 yards of total offense against a solid WO-S (5-3, 3-0) defensive unit. Bridge City senior quarterback Matt Menard had a stellar all-around performance, completing 12-of-25 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, both to wideout Cameron Dishon, and Menard also rushed for 87 yards on 18 totes.
The big-play receiver, Dishon, hauled in five receptions for 148 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
Cardinals tailback Hunter Clark earned 70 yards on 20 tough carries.
“We knew coming in that we had to make some stops on special teams because WO-S has such great speed,” said Cardinal coach Cris Stump. “Each one of those returns really haunted us because we really felt like we had some momentum going before each one of those returns.
“We’re really happy with the way our kids battled all night. We moved the ball pretty well against an excellent defense. We just couldn’t quite cash in on a couple opportunities when we had the chance.”
The Bridge City defense, ranked No. 1 in 21-3A, showed their might again, limiting the Mustangs to 211 total yards.
“Our defense played excellent football with the exception of that one touchdown pass,” said Stump. “That was just a great pass and a great catch on top of it.”
Salter completed 9-of-18 passes for 100 yards for the Mustangs while Sonnier hauled in three catches for 60 yards.
WO-S regained the lead with 10:39 left in the contest when Salter, on second-and-27, hooked up with Sonnier on a perfect 34-yard touchdown strike over the top and into the end zone to make it 21-16.
“Larry Sonnier proved why he has the best hands on the team,” said Thompson. “Jimmy put one out there for him and led him well and Larry hauled it in. That was a great play on both of their parts.”
The Cardinals defense came up with a huge stop on fourth-and-2 from the BC 31 as they stuffed Mustang tailback Britton Lindsey with 2:22 remaining.
Menard then started working his magic, bolting on a 40-yard keeper that went to the Mustang 23 on a fourth-and-4 from the Cardinal 37 to keep the Big Red hopes alive.
The Mustangs slowed the Cardinals on back-to-back one-yard runs by Menard. Heavy pressure forced the Cardinal standout to throw an incompletion on third down and Mustang linebacker Jhayllien Monette sealed the Mustang victory with a sack of Menard back at the WO-S 30 with 0:18 left.
“A game is never over with Menard out there,” said Thompson. “He got off that big run and thank goodness we didn’t let him get to the end zone on that one. We hunkered down defensively when it counted the most and the kids certainly deserve the credit. This was a tremendous football game.”
“Our kids made a great stop to get us the ball back,” said Stump. “They fought and fought to the end. We sure thought we had a chance to punch one in there but give WO-S credit, they made some tough stops there at the end. The kids, they have to bounce back from this one. They’ll regroup and get after Hamshire (Fannett) next week.’’