Purple rush stopped: Cougars too much for PNG

Published 1:45 am Saturday, November 26, 2016

BAYTOWN — Home away from home was so good to Port Neches-Groves this season.

The Indians were 3-0 at Stallworth Stadium and for one stretch matched unbeaten College Station drive for drive. But College Station capitalized on PNG’s miscues and missed tackles Friday night on their way to a 52-28 victory in the 5A Division II Region III semifinals.

PNG finished its furthest playoff drive since 2010, coach Brandon Faircloth’s second season, at 11-2.  College Station (13-0) will face Fort Bend Marshall, a 28-21 winner over A&M Consolidated, next weekend in the regional final.

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The Cougars’ opening touchdown appeared to be a bad omen for the Indians. A low snap in punt formation deep in the Indians’ territory, was recovered by Brandon Joseph and returned for a touchdown as Joseph had to stretch out of a tackle to break the plane.

That was the first of two costly bad snaps. With the Cougars up 28-21, a snap sailed over punter 

Preston Riggs’ head into the end zone, and Riggs, on the run, punted but did not get the ball across the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Marquez Perez snuck in on third down to expand the lead.

The night belonged to Perez, a junior and converted wide receiver who ran 14 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns and completed 11 of 17 passes for 109 yards and another TD. CS junior DaDa Anderson rushed 17 times for 159 yards and a touchdown, a 65-yard dash to break a 21-all tie in the second quarter. Anderson also had a 10-yard scoring reception.

PNG sophomore quarterback Roschon Johnson turned in the longest play, however. His 73-yard keeper came early in the second quarter and tied the game at 21. Anderson’s long run was the very next play from scrimmage.

Johnson threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-30 passing with an interception, and added 116 rushing yards, ending a three-game streak of 200 or more in that category. He made a 78-yard strike to Dylan McGough late in the first quarter that tied the game at 14.

PNG’s Preston Riggs caught 12 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown. McGough had five catches for 111 yards and two scores.

College Station scored on six straight drives going into the third quarter and built a 45-21 lead following a 60-yard Perez keeper. PNG had scored TDs on three straight drives following the bad snap on the opening possession.

Down 35-21, McGough dropped a wide-open receiver pass from Riggs that likely would have gone for six points. The Cougars then drove 67 yards and had two touchdowns called back for penalties before settling for a Ryan Bowersox field goal to fashion the halftime score.

Johnson threw his second interception of the playoffs in the third quarter, leading to Harrison Wellmann’s 47-yard receiver-to-receiver strike for Eric Peterson. That would be the Cougars’ last score of the night.

PNG went 75 yards in 11 plays going into the fourth quarter to pull within 52-28, as Johnson fed Riggs from 19 yards out.

College Station, which outgained PNG 498-376 in total yards, is in the regional final for the first time in its school history, which dates back to 2012. The first Cougars varsity team was fielded the next fall.

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

**CORRECTS number of interceptions Johnson has thrown in playoffs**

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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