Nederland’s Hubert Thomas scores 4 touchdowns during district battle with Santa Fe

Published 10:53 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

NEDERLAND — Hubert Thomas scored four touchdowns, and the defense came up big as Nederland extended its winning streak to three games with a 34-20 win over Santa Fe in District 9-5A Div. II action Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

Nederland improved to 3-3 overall and 3-0 in district play. The Bulldogs had 303 yards of total offense, 221 rushing and 82 passing.

“Coming off last week, I was a little worried about a let down,” said Nederland coach Monte Barrow. “We made sure to let the kids know that’s not how championship teams react the next week. The way they came out and played tonight, they left no doubt about that.”

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Thomas rushed for a game-high 211 yards on 21 carries and had touchdown runs of 13, 40, 28 and 55 yards. He also caught three passes for 7 yards.

Ayden Sunday completed 11 of 20 passes for 82 yards. He also rushed 11 times for 29 yards and one touchdown.

“Our offensive line plays hard, no doubt about it, and they gave him (Thomas) some opportunities,” said Barrow about Thomas’ running. “And a lot of them, he just made on his own. The offensive line gives him that first cut and then he has chance to go make plays on the guys in the secondary. He did just an outstanding job of doing that tonight.”

Trailing 21-14 to start the second half, Santa Fe drove down the field looking to tie the game. Ryan Wainscott took and end around 43 yards to the Nederland 23. But a fumbled snap was recovered by the Bulldogs’ Cade Hollyfield at the 9 to thwart the drive.

Sunday completed a 6-yard pass to Thomas to the 15. The Bulldogs were unable to advance any further and were forced to punt. A high snap led to Lance Resch’s punt being blocked in the end zone, which was recovered by the Indians Jackson Smith for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked to make the score 21-20.

That score remained until late in the fourth quarter. Clinging to a one-point lead, Nederland was trying to put together a drive to run some clock. A steady diet of Thomas running the ball, including a 15-yard run to put the ball at the Indians 28. Thomas scored two plays later. The extra point was no good to give Nederland a 27-20 lead with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs defense forced a three-and-out by the Santa Fe. Thomas iced the game with a 55-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 34-20 with 2:21 left in the game.

“We knew where we were with our schedule,” said Barrow after opening with three tough non-district games. “We went into those games trying to win for sure, but I think we’ve grown from those games. We were able to pinpoint some things as coaches and players. Right now, I think that’s paying off with our start to district play.”

It was nearly a scoreless first quarter before Nederland’s offense finally broke through with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Sunday hit Drew Babin for 11 yards on third-and-10 to keep the drive going. Sunday drew the Indians offsides on four-and-four to convert another first down to keep the drive alive.

Thomas rushed for 28 yards to the Santa Fe 1.

Sunday followed with a 1-yard quarterback sneak to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 1:40 left in the first quarter.

After stopping the Indians, Nederland’s offense went back to work for another scoring drive, taking advantage of good field position at the Indians 41. Sunday had a 14-yard run to the 25. Thomas capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 14-0 with 8:37 left in the second quarter.

Santa Fe (3-3, 0-3) responded with its first scoring drive of the game. Joseph Floyd carried the ball seven times for 52 yards on the drive. Kase Albrecht also had completions of 8 and 10 yards to Ryan Wainscott and 7 yards to Floyd.

Floyd capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-7 with 4:07 left in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs’ Jaedon Ned returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the Indians 40. Thomas scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 40-yard TD run to extend the lead to 21-7.

The Indians responded with their own quick scoring drive. Floyd ran for 63 yards to the Bulldogs 12 on the drive’s first play. Floyd followed with a 12-yard TD run to make the score 21-14 with 3:28 left in the second quarter.

After Nederland had to punt the ball away, Santa Fe was putting together another scoring drive. However, the drive stalled at the 11 and Micah Eanes’ 28-yard field goal was wide left. Nederland went into the locker room with a 21-14 lead at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … Hubert Thomas’ 28-yard touchdown run with 4:19 left in the game. The Bulldogs were clinging to a one-point lead at the time and that provided some much needed cushion.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … Nederland’s Hubert Thomas who rushed for a game-high 221 yards on 21 carries with four touchdowns. His touchdown runs were from 13, 40, 28 and 55 yards.

KEY STATS … Nederland’s Drew Babin had two catchers for 23 yards and KJ Tezeno had two for 22 yards. Santa Fe’s Kade Albrecht completed 10 of 16 passes for 64 yards. Joseph Floyd rushed for 188 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns. Greggory Garcia rushed seven times for 28 yards. Ryan Wainscott caught five passes for 40 yards. Santa Fe had 311 total yards of offense, 247 rushing and 64 passing.

UP NEXT… Nederland remains home to host state-ranked Fort Bend Marshall next Friday at 7 p.m. Santa Fe returns home to host Galena Park next Friday at 7 p.m.

— Written By Daucy Crizer