Port Neches-Groves plays thriller against Fort Bend Marshall in quarterfinal showdown

Published 9:53 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

HOUSTON – Junior Isaiah Nguyen turned in another 100-yard game on the ground, and the Port Neches-Groves defense stymied the Buffalos offense to lead the Indians to a 29-21 win over No. 2-ranked Fort Bend Marshall in the Region III Class 5A-Division II championship game Friday night at Galena Park ISD Stadium.

PNG, which won its 10th straight game, faces the winner of Liberty Hill vs. Corpus Christi Flour Bluff in the state semifinals next week.

Date and time are to be announced.

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Nguyen rushed for a game-high 146 yards on 26 carries. Cole Crippen completed 9 of 16 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. Landon Guarnere caught seven passes for 98 yards and one touchdown. Chance Prosperie had two catches for 50 yards and one touchdown.

Leading 23-14, PNG received the second half kick and put together another scoring drive. Nguyen carried the ball five times for 43 yards on the drive. Andres Sandoval kicked a 37-yard field goal to push the Indians lead to 26-14.

After the Indians defense forced a three-and-out, the offense went back to work looking for more points. Cole Crippen hit Landon Guarnere for a 14-yard completion. A steady diet of Nguyen on the ground pushed the ball to the Buffalos 21. The drive stalled and the Indians had to settle for a 38-yard Sandoval field goal to make the score 29-14.

READ MORE: Indians coach Jeff Joseph shares thoughts following wild night against Fort Bend Marshall.

Marshall put together its lone scoring drive of the second half late in the third quarter. The Buffs went to their passing game as Jordan Davis completed passes of 12 and 13 yards to Ja’Kayden Ferguson. Davis hit Ja’koby Banks for 18 yards. Davis capped the drive with a 34-yard scoring strike to Andre Feast to make the score 29-21 with 11:29 left in the fourth quarter.

PNG’s defense came up huge late in the fourth quarter. Starting at its own 33, Marshall was driving to potentially tie the game. Jonathan Haynes had runs of 12 and 6 yards, and Davis followed with another 6-yard run to put the ball at the PNG 14. However, the Indians tightened up and Davis’ pass on fourth down was incomplete with 2:53 left in the game.

PNG won the toss and elected to defer possession to the second half, which has been a trend of late. The Indians defense forced a quick three-and-out by the Buffalos.

The PNG offense went to work on its first possession of the game. A 41-yard completion from Cole Crippen to Chance Prosperie was the big play, giving the Indians first-and-goal at the 6. Shea Adams scored three plays later on a 1-yard run. A low snap led to a missed extra point to make the score 6-0.

Marshall was forced to punt again after just three offensive plays. The Buffs punt was partially blocked by Kameron Droddy, which went just 1 yard.

PNG took over at the Marshall 25. Crippen was sacked for an 8-yard loss on the first play. The Indians had to settle for a 45-yard Andres Sandoval field goal to put PNG up 9-0 with 4:45 left in the first quarter.

Marshall finally put together a promising drive. Jordan Davis hit Ja’koby Banks for a 54-yard completion. The Buffs moved the ball to the PNG 7, but Davis was stopped on fourth-and-two for a 1-yard loss to turn the ball over on downs.

The Buffalos got on the board on their next possession. Davis ran for 32 yards to the PNG 20. Davis then hit Andre Feast on a 16-yard touchdown pass to make the score 9-7.

PNG answered right back. Crippen hit Adams for a 17-yard completion on third-and-two. The drive was aided by a pass interference penalty by the Buffs. The Indians used a little trickery to score. Crippen pitched the ball to Adams, who then threw the ball to Landon Guarnere in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown to put the Indians up 16-7.

Marshall wasted little time in striking back. On the first play from its own 25, George Kirkland took the hand off on an end around and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. That made the score 16-14.

PNG closed out the first half scoring with a drive late in the second quarter. Guarnere set up the Indians with good field position following a kickoff return out to the 45 and a personal foul, late hit penalty gave PNG the ball at the Marshall 40.

The Indians capped the quick scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Crippen to Prosperie with 1:34 left in the second quarter. That put PNG up 23-14 heading into the locker room at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS…PNG’s Kameron Droddy getting a hand on a Marshall punt in the first quarter. Already leading 6-0, the field position from the blocked punt allowed the Indians’ Andres Sandoval to boot a 45-yard field goal to push the lead to 9-0 and set the tone for the rest of the game.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO…Junior Isaiah Nguyen who rushed for 146 yards on 26 carries. His rushing and the play of the offensive line enabled the Indians to control the line of scrimmage all game long.

KEY STATS…PNG rushed for 142 yards and passed for another 165 for 307 yards of total offense. Marshall’s Jordan Davis completed 12 of 16 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries. Ja’koby Banks caught three passes for 80 yards. Andre Feast had two catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.

UP NEXT…Winner plays the winner of the Liberty Hill vs. Corpus Christi Flour Bluff next week in the state semifinals.

— Written by Daucy Crizer