Quirante’s conversion ends Ned’s home dominance against Vidor

Published 1:31 am Saturday, September 24, 2016

NEDERLAND — It had been a long time coming, and for Vidor, it came Friday night.

Quarterback Maverick Quirante completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kolbie Humble on fourth-and-goal and ran in the extra two points to give the Pirates a 29-28 overtime victory at Nederland, their first such win in at least 31 years.

Vidor (4-1, 3-0 in 22-5A) beat Nederland in 1982, 1983 and 1985, but it was unknown where those games were played. The Pirates’ previous wins over the Bulldogs, in 2001, 2006 and 2010, all were in Vidor.

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Victory found more than one way to dodge Nederland (2-3, 2-1 in 22-5A).

After being iced by two Vidor timeouts, Travis Wiedenfeld pushed a 38-yard field goal wide left as time expired in regulation. The Bulldogs nearly finished off a comeback from being 21-7 down late in the third period.

But Nederland made good on its first offensive drive in overtime. Ryan LeLeux made carries of 12, 11 and 2 yards to give the Dogs the 27-20 advantage.

Quirante, who finished with 95 yards on 18 carries, was not to be outdone.

He ran for 6 yards on fourth-and-1 to the Nederland 10. Nederland’s defense stopped Humble for a loss of 3 yards, deflected a halfback pass in the end zone and forced fourth-and-4 after holding Haylon Leckelt to a 4-yard carry.

Quirante’s completion to Humble was just his second of the night. Quirante completed 2 of 3 passes for 25 yards — 15 more than the Pirates threw for in their first four games combined.

The missed field goal and Vidor’s winning conversion won’t be all the Bulldogs rue. They turned the ball over three times, including a fumble from the Vidor 10 that ended a 74-yard drive to open the second half.

Marshall Lange took over for Blaysin Fernandez, whom coach Larry Neumann said sustained a concussion, at quarterback late in the first half and completed 12 of 21 for 159 yards and a touchdown. Dean Fisher caught five passes for 98 yards.

Lange also tossed two interceptions.

Vidor collected 260 rushing yards on 41 carries, well below its 448.75-yard average, but many of the yards came after missed Nederland tackles.

The Pirates took 9 minutes, 29 seconds off the clock on their opening drive, covering 77 yards in 15 plays. Quirante led the Pirates with 53 yards on 11 first-half carries, scoring from a yard out on that opening drive.

The Bulldogs seemed to make a big stop early in the second quarter before Leckelt broke a tackle and turned a third-and-8 run into a 23-yard carry to the Pirates’ 35. Two plays later, slot man Hogan Stogner bounced off a pile and broke a 56-yard scoring run.

Fernandez, who won in his first start last Friday at Baytown Lee, went incomplete on his first three attempts before connecting with Fisher on passes of 24 and 23 yards.

Lange, who started Nederland’s first two games, took over on the Bulldogs’ next-to-last series of the first half and led them 83 yards in 11 plays to get them on the board. Connor Perkins’ 7-yard carry sliced the Pirates’ lead in half.

Lange was 3 for 3 before throwing an interception in double coverage to William Fawcett. That was after Vidor fumbled on a kickoff return.

Quirante broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and went 34 yards to pad the lead to 21-7 with 4:48 left in the third. Nederland cut the margin in half 3 minutes later after Lange connected with Kory Guidry from 14 yards out.

A lucky bounce allowed Nederland to tie it with 8:08 left in the game. LeLeux carried 22 yards before fumbling at the 3, and Nicholas Kingston recovered the ball in the end zone.

Nederland’s defense held Vidor to two three-and-out sets before starting its final regulation drive with 1:27 left.

LeLeux had 128 yards on 26 carries, getting the majority of Nederland’s touches in absence of Devon Simmons, who missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle.

This was just the first of many potentially pivotal games in the District 22-5A race for the five-time defending champion Bulldogs. They visit Port Arthur Memorial for the first time ever next Friday.

Sunday: Reaction from the game.

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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