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Back to football: Mustangs being Mustangs, blow out Cardinals

By Van Wade
The Orange Leader

WEST ORANGE — It was great for a little Orange County football to be played Friday night as fans from both West Orange-Stark and Bridge City had a brief respite after dealing with what Hurricane Harvey left the area.

In a game full of good sportsmanship, it was the two-time defending Class 4A Division II champion WOS Mustangs that zipped past the Cardinals 39-6 at Hooks Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

The Mustangs (1-0), ranked No. 3 in the latest Class 4A poll, piled up 333 total yards while limiting the Cardinals (0-1), defending District 10-4A Division I champions to just 102.

“It was a pretty good outing for our first game,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “It was nice to play against someone besides ourselves. The kids have had good practices this week. We made some mistakes due to inexperience. We missed some tackles here and there and a few silly penalties but that was expected. We’re proud of them, especially what they’ve went through the last several weeks. We have room to grow and that’s a good thing. They responded well tonight.”

Bridge City coach Dwayne DuBois was hoping the Cardinals would’ve had a better outing.

“It’s been a tough couple weeks for sure but West Orange was in the same boat we were and we just didn’t get it done tonight,” said DuBois. “Defensively, I thought we played well at times. Offensively, we just didn’t execute very well all night. That totally rests on my shoulders and I’ll take the blame for that.”

The Mustangs used a stout running game and a smooth first-ever start from quarterback Chaka Watson to keep the Cardinals on their heels.

The Mustangs zipped for 231 yards on 30 carries.

Tailback Kavyn Cooper had 114 yards on just nine totes. Watson, meanwhile, completed 9 of 14 passes for 92 yards and a score and rushed for 63 yards on seven carries and two more scores.

“I thought we ran the ball well and controlled the clock, just wish we would’ve executed on first down more but we made some big plays on second and long and third and long,” said Thompson. “Our offensive line played well and they’ll continue to get better. I thought Chaka (Watson) had a solid outing. He did what we asked him to do and he was patient. We’re really proud of him.”

The Mustang defense limited the Cardinals vaunted running attack to just 63 yards on 33 carries and forced two fumbles.

The Mustangs raced out to a commanding 26-6 lead at the half as Watson had the hot hand early. He completed 7-of-11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 58 yards on six carries and scored twice in the first 24 minutes.

The Mustangs put together a season-opening eight-play, 56-yard scoring drive on the first series of the game.

Cooper had four carries for 35 yards on the march, including a four-yard touchdown run off left tackle. Chad Dallas drilled the extra-point kick as the Mustangs snared a 7-0 edge with 8:08 in the first quarter.

Watson completed 2-of-3 passes for 20 yards on the drive, including a 12-yarder to Sibley.

The Mustangs put together a seven-play, 68-yard drive that ate up 3:27 off the clock to go up 14-0.

Sibley broke loose on a 22-yard dart to the Cardinal 44 and Cooper ended up with a 19-yard blast to the BC 24.

On third-and-10, Watson broke one BC tackle and took off along the right side for a 24-yard touchdown gallop to make it 14-0 with 11:15 remaining in the half.

The Mustangs were then able to cash in on a Cardinal turnover after BC back Preston Peterson coughed up the ball at the Cardinal 34 with 8:54 in the half.

The Mustangs had a pair of big plays as Watson teamed up with tight end Kaleb Ramsey over the middle for a 17-yard gain and Watson found Jarron Morris for a 13-yard strike to the Cardinal 3. Two plays later Watson took it around the left end for a one-yard touchdown keeper. The point-after kick failed as WO-S led 20-0 with 4:33 in the half.

The Cardinals had an answer though behind quarterback Caleb Dubois as Bridge City responded with a four-play, 79-yard drive to trim it to 20-6 late in the half.

DuBois cut loose down the left sideline for a 35-yard run down to the Mustang 49. Three plays later DuBois found tailback Max Baker wide open across the middle at about the Mustang 10 and the speedy back took it into the end zone for a 39-yard scored. The two-point conversion run failed as the Cardinals trailed 20-6 with 2:19 in the half.

“We had a couple big plays on that one drive,” said DuBois. “But West Orange is still West Orange. Sure, they lost some kids off the state championship teams but they’re still the Mustangs. They’re fierce on defense again. We just need to settle down and regroup. We’ve got Newton and Jasper next before district so we need to show improvement. We did it last year and hopefully the kids will respond and we can do it again. We just simply didn’t get much done tonight.”

WOS retaliated quickly though behind the legs and arm of Watson on the next series.

Watson scampered for a big 29-yard run to the Cardinal 30. He then hit Cooper on a perfectly executed 18-yard pass to the 5 and Watson capped it with a five-yard touchdown strike to Sibley. The extra-point kick was no good but the Mustangs snared a 26-6madvantage with 1:01 in the half.

The Mustangs piled up 239 yards in the first half while the Cardinals had 83.

Cooper rushed for 71 yards on eight carries while Sibley totaled 45 yards on three rushes and a couple receptions.

DuBois rushed for 23 yards and passed for 39 in the half for the Cardinals as they had 44 yards rushing on 15 carries.

After holding the Cardinals to a quick three-and-out to start the third, the Mustangs zipped 57 yards in just four plays to hit paydirt again.

Cooper had the big play on the jaunt as he broke loose up the middle for a 43-yard romp to the Cardinal 7.
On the next play, Ja’Vonn Ross took it in from seven yards out. The point-after failed as the Mustangs snared a 32-6 lead with 8:35 in the third.

The Mustangs went up 39-6 with 3:24 in the third when Ross had a scoop-and-score from seven yards out after Cardinal Baker fumbled at the BC 7.

The Mustangs will be at home again next week when they host Houston KIPP while the Cardinals return home to welcome Newton.