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Neumann: Dogs, Pirates fought ‘to bitter end’

NEDERLAND — After more than 30 years of having not won a game at Nederland, Vidor was not going to wait another overtime to fix that problem.

“I knew I was playing it for my brothers,” Vidor quarterback Maverick Quirante said. “I knew I was going to get in the end zone, no matter what. I’ll do anything for them, and that’s one thing I wanted to do for them today.”

Another thought crossed his mind just a few moments earlier.

“I was thinking, ‘Well, our team played the best they could. If it happened, it was meant to happen.’”

Then, a 38-yard field goal attempt from Travis Wiedenfeld sailed wide left with no time left in regulation.

Even after all that drama, Quirante and the Pirates (4-1, 3-0 in 22-5A) had to come back from their first deficit of Friday night to win 29-28 at Bulldog Stadium. Vidor had last won there in the 1980s, although the exact year is not known.

“It’s big for our kids,” 18th-year Vidor head coach Jeff Mathews said, his team having beaten Nederland for the first time since 2010.

“That’s a big weight lifted off our shoulders. It’s been so long since we won here. That’s emotional for our kids to keep fighting and their kids to keep fighting. That’s a game neither team should have to lose. Their kids played with character and heart, and neither team should have to lose. I’m just proud for both teams.”

Quirante put an end to further drama after Nederland took a 28-21 overtime lead on a 2-yard Ryan LeLeux run.

Facing fourth-and-goal from the Bulldogs’ 9, he threw a touchdown pass to Kolbie Humble. For the winning conversion, Quirante patiently moved his feet behind his blockers and found an open gap to waltz into the end zone

“It’s a great football game,” Bulldogs coach Larry Neumann said. “I think both teams left it on the field, and that’s what you like to see in high school football. My hat’s off to Jeff Mathews and the Vidor Pirates, and they played like we expected them to play, and I couldn’t be more proud of our football team, with everything we’re dealing with and how they played. Two teams fighting it out to the bitter end.”

Bitter it was for the Bulldogs (2-3, 2-1).

Besides not having regular starting running back Devon Simmons, Nederland had to bring in Marshall Lange — who like Simmons is dealing with a high ankle sprain — at quarterback late in the first half after Blaysin Fernandez suffered a concussion, Neumann said. Lange completed 12 of 21 for 159 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

“He’s still playing on one leg,” Neumann said. “He did a heck of a job under those circumstances.”

Nederland trailed 14-0 and 21-7 before tying the game with Nicholas

Kingston’s scoop and score of teammate Ryan LeLeux’s fumble with 8:08 left. Mathews said he didn’t look at the potential winning field goal attempt in the final seconds.

“To be honest, I never doubted our kids,” he said. “I had a feeling. I didn’t look, but I didn’t doubt. I was just glad he missed it.”

Nederland was looking for momentum from a big victory but may have gotten good preparation heading into its first-ever meeting with Port Arthur Memorial (3-0, 2-0) this coming Friday in Memorial Stadium. Memorial drubbed Ozen 62-0 in Beaumont on Saturday.

So is life in District 22-5A.

“It won’t be a big negative thing on video,” said Neumann, a former defensive coordinator at Thomas Jefferson. “Every week’s a new week with new matchups. I don’t know how well we match up with Memorial, but it’ll be the first time we played them in a long time [first time in Memorial’s history].

“Maybe both teams will be discovering themselves in that game, I don’t know. They’re a contender, too. Vidor’s a contender. I like to think we are. We haven’t played them all, yet, so when we get to them, we’ll deal with them the best we can.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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