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Now that’s a playoff: Broncos gamble pays off for Indians

Indians 42, Broncos 41

Dayton   7    13    8    13   —    41

PN-G    14    7    14    7    —   42
First quarter
PN-G — Jack Giblin 25 pass from Adam Morse (Gunnar Nicholson kick), 9:44

Dayton — Kevin Rideau 46 pass from Hunter Hancock (Hedil Cuatianquiz kick), 7:16

PN-G — Jace Runnels 2 run (Nicholson kick), 0:38
Second quarter
Dayton — Shaq Long 34 pass from Hancock (Kick fail), 10:39

Dayton — Jalen Styner 5 run (Taylor Hall kick), 4:05

PN-G — Morse 4 run (Nicholson kick), 0:20
Third quarter
PN-G — Caisen Sullivan 23 pass from Morse (Nicholson kick), 9:04

Dayton — E.J. Hackett 5 pass from Hancock (Dylan Moore run), 5:19

PN-G — Giblin 34 pass from Morse (Nicholson kick), 2:30

Fourth quarter

Dayton — Hancock 8 run (Hall kick), 7:09

PN-G — Morse 1 run (Nicholson kick), 2:43

Dayton — Styner 54 pass from Hancock (Pass fail), 1:11

Dayton              PN-G
First downs                    16                     21
Rushes-yards                            28-111               32-200
Passing yards                            333                   257
Total yards                    444                   457
Comp-Att-Int                  17-24-1              17-26-1
Fumbles-lost                  1-1                    2-1
Penalties-yards              6-70                  7-65

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Dayton: Styner 15-46, Hancock 7-43. PN-G: Kody Cropper 20-126, Morse 11-72.

PASSING — Dayton: Hancock 16-23-1 305. PN-G: Morse 17-26-1 257.

RECEIVING — Dayton: Hackett 7-94. PN-G: Sullivan 11-160, Giblin 4-86.

BAYTOWN — For the first time since 2010, Port Neches-Groves coach Brandon Faircloth was able to dance and wave his head around after an Indians playoff game.
The Indians defeated the Dayton Broncos 42-41 Friday in the Class 5A Division II Region III bi-district round to advance to next week’s area round to take on Angleton, which defeated Texas City, 21-14, Friday. The Indians (9-2) and Wildcats (6-5) square off at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Barbers Hill High School.
In a game that had numerous plays that could have changed the outcome, pencil in Cole Girouard’s defense on a two-point conversion as the biggest play of the night.
The Broncos (7-4) scored with 1:11 left to pull within a point and decided to go for the win over kicking for the tie. Girouard stuck with the Dayton receiver in the end zone and Hunter Hancock’s pass hit the turf at Stallworth Stadium.
“I knew that play was going to decide my senior year,” Girouard said. “If they make it, we lose and if they don’t, we move on. I am just thankful they didn’t get it.”
Dayton then went for an onside kick but Caisen Sullivan gobbled up the kick. PN-G would have to punt and Dayton had one more play but the Indians defense, which gave up a season-high 444 yards, made a final stop.
“More than anything I am thinking about the kids and how happy I am,” Faircloth said. “You can’t invent this type of celebration and excitement. That is what you want for every one of your teams. To see all their hard work paid off. I am just happy for all our guys and our coaches. Some way we found a way to come out on top by one point.”
This game was back and forth all night.
PN-G led 14-7 after the first quarter behind a 25-yard touchdown from quarterback Adam Morse to Jack Giblin and a two-yard touchdown run by Jace Runnels. Dayton then scored 13 straight points and went ahead 20-13 with 4:05 left in the first half.
Morse, who threw for 257 yards on 17-of-26 passing with one interception and rushed for 72 yards, scored on a four-yard keeper. Gunnar Nicholson, who was perfect on his six extra point attempts, booted his try through and PN-G led 21-20 at the break.
The Indians scored twice in the third on Morse touchdown passes to Giblin and Sullivan. Giblin was left wide open for a 34-yard strike to make it 35-28 PN-G, 7 minutes after Sullivan scored from 23 yards away. Sullivan had a game-high 11 receptions for 160 yards while Giblin had 86 yards on four catches.
Morse scored again in the fourth on a quarterback keeper. It came between two Dayton touchdowns that kept the game as close as it was throughout.
“It took everything we had,” Faircloth said. “[Dayton] coach [Jowell] Hancock and those guys is an unbelievable program. There is a reason those guys have been in the playoffs 20 years in a row. We look up to them, we really do. That is the type of success and consistency we want to have in the playoffs.”
Kody Cropper led all runners with 126 yards on 20 carries.
Hunter Hancock led Dayton’s offense. He finished with 305 yards on 16-of-23 passing.
Girouard was even more pleased to get the win for Faircloth, knowing his coach has taken so much heat over the last several years.
“I love Coach Faircloth,” Girouard said. “I am so glad we could do this for him. He has taken a lot of heat, but tonight we are excited for him.”

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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