Six-score soirée: Indians take home trophy behind Johnson’s big night

Published 1:44 am Saturday, November 5, 2016

PORT NECHES — The streak is over and the Bum Phillips Bowl Trophy is headed to Port Neches-Groves High School for the first time ever.

PNG defeated Nederland 41-21 in a thrilling match of the long-time rivals who met for the 93rd time Friday.

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Coach Brandon Faircloth and his Indians also claimed a share of the District 22-5A title with Port Arthur Memorial and Vidor. Vidor defeated Memorial on Friday.

PNG moves on to face Barbers Hill at 7 p.m. next Friday at Lamar’s Provost Umphrey Stadium in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Region III playoffs. Nederland was eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

The Indians had lost six straight times to the Bulldogs, but Friday night was different thanks to the play of sophomore quarterback Roschon Johnson. He had 245 yards and six touchdowns on 30 carries. The 245 yards are tied for fourth-most in a single game in PNG history. Gordon LeBouef had 245 against Texas City in 1953.

Johnson tied three other players for most rushing touchdowns in a single game in PNG history.

“Bringing home that trophy means everything,” Johnson said. “We did it for the seniors. That is what I felt like I had to do.”

Friday’s win was huge for Faircloth, who had only beaten Nederland once since he came to PNG in 2009.

No matter how many games he had won, fans still wanted to see the Indians take down the Bulldogs.

“It does feel that way,” Faircloth said when asked if it felt like a monkey was lifted off his back. “We have had some close losses to those guys. Credit to them because they made the plays over the years. Tonight our defense stepped up in the second half and got some turnovers. Give Nederland all the credit in the world. Coach [Larry] Neumann is an amazing coach.”

This was your typical Mid-County Madness game between the two schools that have been playing since 1925 when it was just Port Neches High School.

“I don’t see how you can play with that much energy from both teams and it be a blowout,” Faircloth said in reference to the game being closer than a 20-point victory. “It was the kind of game we knew it was going to be. Our defense got some stops and we made some plays on offense in the second half. We got the breaks in the second half.”

Nederland held a 14-13 lead at the half after two first-half touchdowns by Devon Simmons. He finished with 78 yards on 18 carries and only touched the ball once in the second half. It was not reported if Simmons had an injury.

The Bulldogs grabbed a 21-13 lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter when Sean Nguyen scored on a 21-yard flea flicker from Marshall Lange.

Nederland’s lead did not last long as Johnson scored on the very next play.

Johnson ran it in from 70 yards out to put PNG within a point at 21-20.

PNG then held Nederland to a three-and-out and after a 53-yard punt return by Jacob Vaughan.

Johnson, two plays later, gave the Indians the lead for good at 27-21 with a 2-yard touchdown run.

PNG’s defense stepped up its game in the fourth quarter thanks to two interceptions by junior Austin Bost.

The two turnovers led to 14 points for the Indians, both touchdowns coming on the legs of Johnson.

“Tonight was unbelievable,” Faircloth said of Johnson’s performance. “He is a special player surrounded by some really great players that help him out. He’s the complete package and wants the ball in his hands. Tonight he came through.”

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

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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