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Clutch play, points shape Indians-Cougars classics

CROSBY (1-3, 1-1) AT PNG (4-1, 2-0)

12-5A-II FOOTBALL; 7:30 TONIGHT, INDIAN STADIUM; KCOL-FM 92.5

PORT NECHES — Although Peyton Proenza played the role of hero at Crosby last year, it’s not reflected in Port Neches-Groves’ record from that season.

Still, he played the hero.

“This week, I’m starting to remember it more often,” the senior wide receiver said. “I’m just focusing on the win as a team, not just as an individual.”

Running the same play after he was called out of bounds, Proenza caught the game-winning touchdown in the back of the end zone from Roschon Johnson with 3 seconds left. The victory only lasted 17 days, as PNG was made to forfeit the win because of an impermissible iPad that another team’s scouts discovered in the coaches’ box.

It did not keep the Indians from marching to a share of the District 12-5A Division II championship, and they’ve not lost a district game since.

Lightning could only delay, but not stop, any chance of an Indians’ comeback victory last week in Vidor that wasn’t completed until after midnight.

“Going into the game, we just wanted to win,” Proenza said. “We were playing OK the first half, but the lightning delay just meant everybody went into the locker room and chilled, not knowing the situation. We all wanted to win. We all knew that being in that silence, having time to ourselves in that silence, we were going to have new opportunity and new life in us, and that’s exactly what happened.

“We went out there. We played our best game, and we came out with the W.”

If Crosby (1-3, 1-1 in 12-5A-II) vs. PNG (4-1, 2-0) is anything like the past two years — and if the lightning holds — this game will be far from quiet. PNG beat Crosby 72-69 in the 5A Division II bi-district round two years ago and 48-45 in district play last year.

Despite a tough start to the 2019 season, the Cougars’ offense produces slightly more yards per game than the Indians (358.3-356.5). In each of the past two seasons, neither team has been that modest against each other. Crosby outgained PNG 805-638 in 2017, but the Indians had the upper hand, 410-403, in 2018.

“That’s how it’s just played out,” Indians coach Brandon Faircloth said. “It’s two good teams playing each other. The team with the ball last, that’s kind of been the key the last two years. A lot of that had to do with Roschon, being the guy he is. We anticipate a great game. They’re a really talented football team. They’re big, they’re physical, and they’ve got really good skill players. They’re a tough matchup for anybody.”

Proenza, who is playing big this season with 206 yards on 16 receptions and three touchdowns, welcomes the challenge, knowing he stepped up against the Cougars last year.

“Last year, I thought about it a lot,” he said. “This year, I’m on to bigger things.”

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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