Dominant second half highlights Titans’ road battle with district foe Porter

Published 10:47 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

NEW CANEY — After a disastrous final 1:49 of the first half, Memorial regrouped at halftime and shut out Porter in the second half en route to a 45-28 win over the Spartans in District 8-5A Division I action Friday night at Randall Reed Stadium.

Trailing 28-21 at halftime, Memorial scored on the opening possession of the third quarter and never looked back.

The Titans outscored Porter 24-0 in the second half.

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“Offensively, I thought we played really good all night,” said Memorial coach Brian Morgan. “I was really proud of the guys in the locker room at halftime. How they handled it and what their demeanor was. I was impressed by that, considering we have a bunch of young guys. They never panicked.”

The Titans were sparked by the running of Amante Martin.

He didn’t get his first carry until second quarter, but he made the most of his opportunity when he got into the game.

His first carry went for 64 yards. He ended up with 163 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns.

“We’ve kind of been fortunate in that it’s been a different back that’s had a good game for us each week,” said Morgan. “We’ve been waiting for Amante to break out. We see it all the time. He’s super talented. It’s been just a matter of when were we going to see it on a Friday night.”

Memorial (3-0, 1-0) took the second half kickoff and marched down the field to tie the game at 28-28.

The six-play drive was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Martin.

Martin started the drive with back-to-back runs of 11 yards. Alex Eugene added a 34-yard run and had three carries for 43 yards on the drive.

Porter (2-2, 1-1) fumbled the ball on its first snap of the second half, which was recovered by the Titans’ Nolan White at the Spartans 13.

Memorial had to settle for an Oscar Salgado 23-yard field goal to retake the lead at 31-28 with 8:47 left in the third quarter.

The Spartans had a promising drive on their ensuing possession. The drive featured all running plays, and a 30-yard scramble by quarterback Payton Evans-Pickens gave them a first down at the Memorial 30.

That’s where the Titans defense stepped up. Evans-Pickens was sacked on two consecutive plays. On fourth-and-16, the snap sailed over Evans-Pickens’ head and was downed all the way back at the Porter 47.

Memorial put together a quick three-play scoring drive. Cobe Stoever hit Semaj Pierre for a 32-yard gain. Martin scored on a 6-yard TD run to push the Titans lead to 38-28 on the final play of the third quarter.

The Titans iced the game with a 10-play scoring drive that took 5:21 off the clock midway through the fourth quarter. Eugene capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run to make the score 45-28 with 3:57 left in the game.

Memorial opened the scoring on its first possession of the game. The drive opened with a 42-yard completion from Stoever to Semaj Pierre to the Porter 1.

Ja’coryn Baker scored a play later on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a quick 7-0 lead with 6:14 left in the first quarter. The drive was set up by a Daevon Iles interception.

The Titans added to their lead early in the second quarter. Stoever hit Amir Young on a 21-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 14-0 with 8:59 left in the second quarter. That drive was set up by a Jekelbe Joseph interception.

Porter responded with its first scoring drive of the game, and first of four in the second quarter. Evans-Pickens hit Hudson Martin for a 29-yard completion. Mairon Lewis had a 19-yard run to the Memorial 9. Evans-Pickens scored on a 3-yard TD run to make the score 14-7.

Memorial answered with back with a quick two-play scoring drive. Amante Martin raced 64-yards up the middle on his first carry of the game to the Porter 3. Martin scored on the next play for a 3-yard TD run to extend the Titans lead to 21-7 with 4:05 left in the first half.

That’s when things went sideways for the Titans. After Evans-Pickens converted a third-and-one with an 8-yard run, Lewis raced 70-yard down the left sideline to pull the Spartans within a touchdown at 21-14 with 1:49 remaining in the second quarter.

The Spartans forced a quick three-and-out by the Titans and a big punt return gave Porter the ball at the Memorial 38. Landon Binford went virtually untouched up the middle for a 38-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21-21 with :48 left in the second quarter.

Memorial was trying to make something happen on its final drive before halftime, but it was not meant to be. Trying to hit Baker on a screen pass in the left flat, Anthony Portonova intercepted the passes and raced 35 yards for a touchdown. That gave Porter the lead at 28-21 heading into the locker room at halftime.

“They’re (Porter) a good team. They play hard for four quarters,” said Morgan on the end of the first half. “They got us on a couple of long plays that we don’t typically give up. We just had some busts with guys out of position and that’s all it takes.”

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … Memorial’s Nolan White recovered a fumble at the Porter 13 early in the third quarter. The Titans had just tied the game, and that was Porter’s first play of the second half. It led to a 23-yard Oscar Salgado that gave Memorial the lead for good.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … Memorial’s Amante Marting, who led all rushers with 163 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns. The offense seemed to hit another gear when he entered the game.

KEY STATS … Memorial’s Cobe Stoever completed 11 of 16 passes for 136 yards and one TD. Semaj Pierre hauled in four passes for 80 yards. Amir Young had three catches for 34 yards and 1 TD. Ja’coryn Baker rushed for 27 yards on six carries and 1 TD. Porter’s Payton Evans-Pickens completed just 3 of 8 passes for 36 yards and was intercepted twice. He rushed for 102 yards on 24 carries with 1 TD. Mairon Lewis rushed for 99 yards on six carries and 1 TD. Landon Binford rushed for 54 yards on seven carries and 1 TD.

UP NEXT … Memorial returns home to host Baytown Sterling next Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Porter has a bye next week before continuing its season on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Baytown Sterling.

— Written by Daucy Crizer