Indians celebrate Bum Phillips Bowl Trophy win with Wade Phillips

Published 10:58 pm Friday, October 27, 2023

NEDERLAND — The 100th edition of Mid County Madness did not disappoint.

It featured all of the elements fans have come to enjoy about this matchup – big plays on offense, defensive stands, momentum-changing turnovers and gritty, backyard brawl football.

In the end, Port Neches-Groves was just too much to handle at the line of scrimmage for Nederland, as the Indians imposed their will in grinding out a 41-16 win in District 8-5A Div. II action Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

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PNG improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in district play in receiving the Bum Phillips Trophy, which was presented by Wade Phillips after the game.

The Indians secured at least a share of the district championship for the first time in five years. PNG has won five of the last six meetings and leads the overall series with a 54-39-7 record.

Nederland dropped to 4-5 overall and 4-2 in district play. The Bulldogs appear to have secured a playoff spot and will be either the third or fourth seed, depending on the outcome of next week’s game.

“We were competitive and got some stuff fixed that was a little ugly with the run game and some of the fronts we were seeing,” said PNG coach Jeff Joseph. “Isaiah (Nguyen) ran the ball hard like he always does, and the offensive line created some creases.

“We were able to make some plays on offense. Our defense kept us in the game early. (Nederland) made one big play at the end of the first half that you worried about losing some momentum, but we showed some fortitude and mental toughness in the way we responded and the way we came out and got stops in the second half.”

The Indians provided a familiar recipe for success, leaning on their big offensive line and running game. PNG rushed for 331 yards with Nguyen leading the way with a game-high 236 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown.

Blair Chatagnier added 66 yards on seven carries and one touchdown.

“It’s awesome. It means so much to our kids and to our community,” said Joseph on what it means to win the Mid County Madness game. “The most import thing for me is that we won a share of the district championship for the first time in five years. That’s a huge deal and is sometimes undervalued. To come out tonight and do that was big.”

Leading 20-9 to start the third quarter, PNG’s defense forced a quick three-and-out and the offense went back to work. The drive was aided by a roughing the quarterback penalty against the Bulldogs.

Connor Bailey hit London Nunnley for 15 yards to the Nederland 13. Nguyen finished the drive with a 10-yard run and a 3-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 27-9.

PNG added to its lead early in the fourth quarter. The Indians dipped into the playbook a little bit when Bailey passed to Nunnley behind the line of scrimmage and Nunnley then threw a pass to Noah Washington for a 56-yard touchdown.

That extended the lead to 34-9 with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter.

Reid Richard intercepted Nederland quarterback Ayden Sunday on the Bulldogs next possession. That set up a 29-yard touchdown run by Chatagnier to push the lead to 41-9.

Nederland closed out the scoring with a lengthy drive mid-way through the fourth quarter. Sunday hit Slade Sheppard on a 29-yard scoring strike to make the score 41-16.

“Tonight, I thought they (PNG) did a great job of using the matchups to their advantage,” said Nederland coach Monte Barrow. “The matchups being their offensive line and the size that they have there and we’re not that way on the other side of the ball. Kind of the same way on the offensive line for us and their defensive line.

“They did a good job of neutralizing Hubert (Thomas) for the most part. He did have that big run at the end of the first half that gave us a shot of adrenaline going into halftime. They made plays, and we didn’t. That’s always going to be the bottom line in a football game.”

PNG received the opening kickoff and marched down the field in nine plays for the game’s first score. As you might imagine, it was a steady diet of the running game featuring Nguyen.

Bailey hit Nunnley for an 11-yard completion to convert on a third down. Nguyen followed with a 48-yard run to the Bulldog 12. Chase Johnson scored on a 12-yard run up the middle for a quick 7-0 lead.

After the Indians forced a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, PNG had another promising drive going. Nguyen ripped off another long run, this time for 40 yards to the Nederland 17.

On fourth-and-one, Johnson rushed up the middle for what would have been a first down, but fumbled on the play, which was recovered by the Bulldogs at the 4.

Sunday was intercepted by Kameron Droddy on the Bulldogs ensuing possession.

Bailey started the scoring drive for the Indians with a 12-yard completion to Nunnley to the Bulldog 18. The drive stalled at the 9 and ended with a 26-yard field goal by Giovanni Oceguera to give the Indians a 10-0 lead with 10:41 left in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs finally put together their first scoring drive of the game. Sunday scrambled for nine yards to convert a third-and-9. Sunday then hit Thomas for a 16-yard completion to the PNG 19.

The drive stalled and resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Lance Resch to make the score 10-3.

PNG answered right back. Bailey connected with Nunnley for a 5-yard completion and 15 more yards were added on for a facemask penalty. Nguyen rushed for 29 yards to the Bulldogs 2. Bailey scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak to push the lead to 17-3.

Nederland’s next drive was thwarted by a Mason Wuenschel interception at the Bulldogs 26.

Nederland’s defense held strong and forced a 38-yard field goal by Oceguera, which made the score 20-3 with 1:11 left in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs were not content to just run on the clock. On third-and-seven, Thomas took the handoff and raced 68 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked to make the score 20-9 at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … PNG’s Kameron Droddy intercepted Nederland quarterback Ayden Sunday on the Bulldogs second possession of the game. With the Indians already leading 7-0, that interception led to a 26-yard field goal by Giovanni Oceguera to increase the lead to 10-0 and PNG was in control the rest of the game.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … PNG’s Isaiah Nguyen who rushed for a game-high 236 yards on 28 carries with one touchdown.

KEY STATS … PNG amassed 435 yards of total offense, 331 rushing and 104 passing. Connor Bailey completed 6 of 7 passes for 48 yards and had a rushing TD. London Nunnley caught five passes for 46 yards and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Noah Washington. Chase Johnson rushed six times for 26 yards and one TD.

Nederland’s Hubert Thomas rushed for 127 yards on 16 carries, including a 68-yard TD run. He also caught four passes for 25 yards. Ayden Sunday completed 14 of 28 passes for 96 yards and one TD, and also had three interceptions. Slade Sheppard had three catches for 40 yards and one TD.

UP NEXT … Port Neches-Groves and Nederland close out the regular season next week. PNG hosts Galena Park Friday at 7 p.m. at The Reservation. Nederland hits the road at Texas City next Friday at 7 p.m.

— Written by Daucy Crizer