Here’s how Memorial-Sterling game went from close to one-sided in 2nd half

Published 11:32 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

The Port Arthur Memorial Titans won Friday night’s district matchup against the Sterling Rangers, 52-10, at Memorial Stadium.

The Titans excelled on both sides of the ball during the homecoming win.

The defense forced multiple turnovers to create extra possessions. Memorial’s high-powered offense took advantage and never looked back after halftime.

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“Our kids play really, really hard,” Memorial head coach Brian Morgan said after the game. “Over time, our guys just wear other teams down. They did a good job of playing with high effort tonight.”

The Titans captains approach mid-field before Friday’s district game. (Keagan Smith/The News)

Sterling received the opening kickoff and put together a long drive into Titans territory. Memorial’s defense forced an early turnover as Noah White recovered a fumble at their own 26-yard line.

The Titans capitalized on the turnover and needed just a handful of plays to get into scoring range thanks to a 27-yard rush by Ja’Coryn Baker. Memorial eventually settled for a 31-yard field goal by Oscar Salgado to take a 3-0 lead.

The Titans extended their lead to begin the second quarter. Quarterback Cobe Stoever threw a pass over the middle to receiver Keavon Roberts, who took it 51 yards to the house for a touchdown.

MORE COVERAGE — Points hard to come by during PNG’s district opener against Fort Bend Marshall

Just before halftime, the Rangers booted a field goal through the uprights to make it a 10-3 game.

While the first half was competitive, the Titans opened the floodgates and began to pour on the points once they retook the field.

A bad snap on a punt attempt gave Memorial great field position at the opponent’s 26. Two plays later, Baker rushed for a touchdown.

On the following kickoff, a Sterling fumble was recovered by Port Arthur’s Synsae Harper inside the five. Amante Martin took a direct snap across the goal line for the Titans TD.

Memorial’s defense recovered yet another fumble on Sterling’s next possession. This time, Tank King came up with the loose ball. After a short drive downfield, Stoever again connected with Roberts for his second touchdown of the night — this one a completion of 26 yards.

The flurry of scores continued. Several minutes later, Stoever threw a 19-yard TD to Jaquan Holmes. By the end of the third quarter, the Titans had completely taken over the game and held a commanding 38-3 lead.

“I thought we didn’t handle the first half very well,” Morgan said. “We talked about that at halftime. I think we’ve got a mature team, and they understood what I was talking about and went out there and fixed it.”

The Titans’ dominant defense finally gave up their first touchdown to begin the fourth quarter as Sterling’s Will Key rushed for a 65-yard score.

However, Memorial made up for it with 14 more points of their own in the final quarter. Halfback Alex Eugene broke free for a 57-yard TD, then followed it up with a 25-yard scamper to the end zone on the next possession.

When the dust settled, the Titans secured a 52-10 win to cap off the homecoming festivities.

Stoever finished with 173 passing yards and three touchdowns in just three quarters of play. Roberts tallied 77 receiving yards and two TDs, while Eugene finished with 113 rushing yards and two scores.

Memorial remains undefeated with a 2-0 district record (4-0 overall). Port Arthur looks to keep the winning streak alive next Friday as they travel to Crosby for another district matchup.

— Written by Keagan Smith