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Nederland Bulldogs earn District 12-5A Division II title share, No. 1 seed

CROSBY — With the District 12-5A Division II crown on the line, Nederland’s trio of Josh Mazyck, Rene Cunningham and Kyndon Fuselier came up big in helping the Bulldogs secure a share of the title with a 29-24 win over Crosby Friday night at Cougar Stadium.

Both the Bulldogs and Cougars finished district play with identical 6-1 records, but Nederland (7-2) will get the top spot for playoff seeding by virtue of its win over Crosby (7-3).

Mazyck finished the game with a game-high 167 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns, which came on runs of 78 and 41 yards. Cunningham completed 18 of 32 passes for 278 yards and one TD. He also had a rushing TD. Fuselier hauled in eight catches for 159 yards and a TD.

Leading 17-15, Crosby received the kickoff to start the third quarter. The Cougars picked up a few first downs but were stopped at midfield in what was a big stop by the Bulldogs defense.

Nederland’s offense responded in its first possession of the second half. Facing fourth-and-three, Mazyck took a direct snap from center and raced 41 yards for a touchdown. Cunningham hit Fuselier for the two-point conversion to make the score 23-17.

Crosby responded with a scoring drive of its own. Adrian Branch had a 41-yard run to put the ball at the Nederland 9. Deniquez Dunn scored on a 3-yard TD run to put the Cougars back up 24-23 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.

It took the Bulldogs just two plays to strike right back. Cunningham hit Fuselier on an 80-yard scoring strike. The two-point conversion failed, and the score remained 29-24.

Crosby was hoping to take advantage of Cunningham’s interception with a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Branch’s 8-yard run gave the Cougars a first down at the Nederland 21. However, Branch fumbled on the next play, which was recovered by the Bulldogs’ Mikey Rangel with 2:18 left.

Nederland showed it came out ready to play, taking the opening kickoff all the way down to the Crosby 21. Cunningham had a 10-yard completion to Fuselier and a 12-yard completion to Kerrington Broussard. The drive stalled and ended with a 41-yard field goal by Ethan Vincent to give the Bulldogs a quick 3-0 lead.

The Bulldogs defense came up with a big initial stop, forcing the Cougars into a three-and-out. Nederland didn’t waste any time as Mazyck scored on the next Bulldogs play from scrimmage with a 78-yard run. The extra point was blocked to make the score 9-0 with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

Crosby put together a scoring drive on its second possession. Dunn had an 18-yard run to put the ball at the Nederland 21. The drive stalled and Trevor Helburg booted a 38-yard field goal to make the score 9-3 with 3:06 remaining in the opening stanza.

Nederland answered with another scoring drive of its own. Cunningham hit Beau Seymour for a 21-yard completion to get the drive started. Fuselier hauled in a 25-yard pass from Cunningham to put the ball at the Cougars 32.

Following an 8-yard completion to Fuselier, Mazyck ran the ball for 21 yards to set up first-and-goal at the 1. Two plays later, Cunningham scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The extra point was blocked to make the score 15-3 with 11:33 left in the second quarter.

This time it was Crosby’s turn to strike quick. On the Cougars first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, Dunn took a pass behind the line of scrimmage and threw it to the end zone, where it was caught by Kameron Kirkwood for a 51-yard scoring strike to make the score 15-10 with 11:24 left in the second quarter.

The Cougars defense forced a three-and-out by the Bulldogs and this time, Fuselier’s punt was blocked. Set up with field position at the Nederland 19, Crosby scored four plays later on a 7-yard end around by E’Monte Williams to give the Cougars their first lead of the game at 17-15 with 4:07 left in the second quarter.

The game changed when …

Nederland’s defense came up with a defensive stop on Crosby’s first possession of the third quarter. The Bulldogs scored on the ensuing drive to take a 23-17 lead on Mazyck’s 41-yard TD run.

The game ball goes to …

Josh Mazyck who led all rushers with 167 yards on 24 carries. He had TD runs of 78 and 41 yards.

Key stats …

Nederland amassed 438 yards of total offense and held Crosby to 377 yards of total offense. Branch led Crosby with 139 yards on 21 carries. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 89 yards. Dunn had 74 yards on 11 carries, caught six passes for 46 yards and completed 2 of 2 passes for 60 yards.

Next up …

Nederland hosts Houston Sterling at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in the bi-district round of the playoffs at Bulldog Stadium. Crosby hosts Fort Bend Willowridge at Cougar Stadium.

— By Daucy Crizer, Special to The News