Memorial Titans, Port Neches-Groves Indians battle in Week 1 of 2023 season

Published 10:44 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

Junior Amante Martin provided the offense, and the Titans defense smothered the Indians as Memorial pulled away in the second half for a 24-7 win over Port Neches-Groves in non-district football action Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

Martin rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns.

Ja’coryn Baker added 34 yards on seven carries.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Cobe Stoever completed 22 of 30 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown.

“We have a lot to get better at, but it was a good start,” said Memorial coach Brian Morgan. “I thought the kids played really hard. We were obviously in really good shape as we weren’t really affected by the weather or with cramps.

“It took a while go get going. They (PNG) have a really good defense and they are hard to run against. They have a lot of people in the box which makes it difficult to get the ground game going.”

The Memorial sideline celebrates during the Week 1 contest with Port Neches-Groves. (Chris Moore/The News)

After a defensive oriented first half, Memorial’s offense got going in the second half. After the defense forced a quick three-and-out on PNG’s opening drive of the third quarter, the Titans offense put together an 11-play scoring drive.

Stoever hit with Payton Chaney for 21 yards on third and 22. He converted the fourth-and-one with a six-yard completion to Amir Young.

Stoever had back-to-back completions to Jaquan Holmes of 11 and 17 yards.

Stoever hit Chaney on a 19-yard scoring strike as the Titans reclaimed the lead at 10-7.

PNG struggled in the punting game all night, mostly with snaps from center. It finally cost the Indians some points late in the third quarter.

MORE COVERAGE — VIDEO and PHOTOS — Memorial principal Dr. Jeremy Small receives key to city, then performs

A high snap over the punters head resulted in a loss of 27 yards to give the Titans first down at the PNG 12.

Martin scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 12-yard run to extend Memorial’s lead to 17-7 with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. The tide seemed to change a little when Martin was lined up at quarterback some in the second half, which seemed to ignite the running game.

“We gave them (PNG) a bit of a different look and something they hadn’t seen before,” said Morgan of the adjustment. “Amante’s been a quarterback his whole life, so it wasn’t anything new for him. He ran the ball well.

“I thought we could throw the ball on them since they put so many guys in the box. Our advantage was getting our receivers the ball in space and making them tackle consistently. That’s really a run play in our mind.”

PNG was thwarted again on a drive early in the fourth quarter.

Shea Adams was sacked for a 13-yard loss on third and 13 by Michael Riles, who was in the back field all night for the Titans.

READ MORE — Nederland gets into shootout during Week 1 battle with Mustangs

Memorial wasted little time in mounting another scoring drive on their ensuing possession.

Baker rushed for 15 yards to the PNG 43 on first down.

Martin scored on a 43-yard scamper to put the game away. That gave the Titans a 24-7 lead with 4:48 left in the game.

“PNG can really run the ball and they operate the offense well with a lot of formations,” said Morgan. “Our defense didn’t have any real mental lapses. We are also really good on defense. We see it every day in practice.”

Adams led the way for the Indians, rushing for 96 yards on 19 carries. He completed 8 of 18 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown. Isaiah Nguyen added 25 yards rushing on 11 carries.

After a scoreless first quarter, Memorial struck first late in the second quarter. The scoring drive was set up when the Titans defense stuffed the Indians on fourth and inches. After stopped for no gain on third and one, Adams tried another quarterback sneak on four and inches but bobbled the snap, which was recovered by Memorial at the PNG 27.

The Titans offense wasn’t able to muster much of a drive. After a pair of incompletions, Memorial had to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Oscar Salgado to give the Titans a 3-0 lead with 2:10 left in the second quarter.

PNG answered right back on its ensuing possession. Aided by a person foul penalty against the Titans on the kickoff return, the Indians took over at their own 45. Isaiah Nguyen carried the ball for 16 yards on first down.

Nguyen was stopped for a two-yard loss and Adams rushed for 2-yards setting up third-and-10. Adams hit Reid Richard on a 39-yard scoring strike to give the Indians a 7-3 lead with 27 seconds left in the first half. That’s how the teams went into the locker room at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS…Cobe Stoever’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Payton Chaney in the third quarter. It gave the Titans a 10-7 lead never trailed again.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO…Junior Amante Martin who rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns. His rushing at tailback and especially at quarterback is what sparked the Titans offense in the second half.

KEY STATS…Memorial rushed for 152 yards and passed for 151 for 303 yards of total offense. Jaquan Holmes caught 11 passes for 74 yards. Payton Chaney added 61 yards on four catches and one TD. PNG was held to 208 yards of total offense, 103 rushing and 105 passing. Reid Richard had one reception for 39 yards and a TD. London Nunley had three catches for 30 yards.

UP NEXT…Memorial hits the road for a non-district game next Friday at Nederland. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. PNG returns home to host Beaumont United next Friday at 7 p.m. from The Reservation.

— Written by Daucy C. Crizer