Memorial’s final regular season game goes down to wire against Kingwood Park

Published 10:40 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

Kingwood Park scored the final 17 points of the game to grab a come-from-behind 24-17 win over Memorial in the final regular season game for both teams Friday Night at Memorial Stadium.

Memorial finishes the regular season with an 8-2 overall record and a 6-2 mark in District 8 play. The Titans already clinched a playoff spot but now have to travel next Friday for the first round of the Region II Class 5A-Div. I playoffs.

Memorial’s likely opponent is Forney, but game details will be provided once they are finalized.

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“Didn’t play well enough,” said a clearly frustrated Memorial head coach Brian Morgan after the game. “Didn’t play well enough up front on both sides of the ball to win the game and play good football. Struggled up front to block them when they gave us a lot of pressure. Defensive line took too many penalties. Just didn’t play good.

“I thought we struggled the whole game, really. We had a big play here and there, but I don’t think we ever really got going offensively. We couldn’t run the ball, which is what we really want to do. We couldn’t protect when we wanted to throw it.”

Leading 7-0 to start the third quarter, Memorial took the second half kickoff and marched down the field. The Titans converted several big plays to keep the drive alive, including Cobe Stoever hitting Jaquan Holmes for a 6-yard completion on fourth-and-four.

Stoever also scrambled for 20 yards to the KP 20 on fourth-and-one.

That’s where the drive stalled out and the Titans had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from Oscar Salgado. That extended Memorial’s lead to 10-0 with 7:55 left in the third quarter.

Kingwood Park (7-3, 5-3) started its first scoring drive at the end of the third quarter. The 10-play, 68-yard drive culminated with an 8-yard touchdown run by Aiden Troost. All 10 plays were on the ground for the Panthers. That made the score 10-7 with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter.

Memorial answered right back with a scoring drive of its own. On third-and-13, Stoever connected with Semaj Pierre on a 56-yard touchdown. The ball was tipped by a KP defensive back, and Pierre was in the right place at the right time to grab the deflected pass and race to the end zone.

That put the Titans up 17-7 with 8:21 left.

That score didn’t last long; however, as Kingwood Park’s Ky’ell Sheffield returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to make the score 17-14 with 8:09 left in the game.

The Panthers defense forced a quick three-and-out by the Titans offense. KP’s offense then went to work on the go-ahead drive, taking advantage of good field position at the Memorial 47 following a 31-yard punt.

Jaxon Sims hit Ryell Bush for a 20-yard completion to the 26 to get the Panthers in scoring position. Following a 7-yard run by Troost, Sims scrambled to his right and hit Sheffield for a 22-yard touchdown. That gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 21-17 with 3:32 left in the game.

Memorial got the ball back looking to put together a game-winning drive. However, the Titans offense was unable to get anything going.

Facing fourth-and-10 following three straight incompletions, the Titans had no choice but to go for it. A low snap led Stoever to getting sacked for a 13-yard loss and Memorial turned the ball over on downs at the 12.

Kingwood Park ran the ball three straight times and Wyatt May came on to kick a 23-yard field goal to push the Panthers lead to 24-17 with 1:28 left in the contest.

Trying to squib the ensuing kickoff, May’s kick hit one of Memorial’s players and was recovered by May. Kingwood Park was able to just run on the clock to secure the win.

“We have to and don’t really have a choice,” said Morgan on shaking off this loss heading into the playoffs. “We have to try and get better from this game. It’s two weeks in a row that we didn’t execute. We just have to figure out what we can do well and try to execute next week.”

Game Start

KP did it’s best to control the clock in the first half. The Panthers’ first drive featured nothing but running plays but stalled at their 45.

Memorial’s first possession started at the KP 45 after punt of zero yards. Ja’coryn Baker had a 14-yard rush to the KP 23. Amante Martin followed with a 10-yard run to the 13.

An Alex Eugene 8-yard run put the ball at the 6. On third-and-three, Martin rushed for 2. The Titans decided to go for it on fourth-and-one, but Martin was stuffed for a minus-2 yard run.

The Panthers went back to the running game on their second possession. Another steady diet of Brayden Moronko advanced the ball from their own 6 to the 33. KP decided to go for it on fourth-and-two and the Titans jumped offsides to give the Panthers a first down on the first play of the second quarter.

Sims entered the game at quarterback for the Panthers, who started to throw the ball. Sims hit Ethan Elliott for 9 yards and a first down to the Titans 31.

The drive stalled at the 26. On third-and-five, the snap from center went wide of Sims and resulted in an 18-yard loss and the Panthers were forced to punt.

It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that Memorial was finally able to break through. Taking over at their own 15, Baker started the drive with a 5-yard run to the 20. Cobe Stoever hit Jaquan Holmes down the left sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.

Holmes had to make one defender miss and then it was nothing but open space. That gave the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:23 left in the second quarter and how the teams would enter the locker room at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … Kingwood Park’s Ky’ell Sheffield’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Memorial had just taken a 10-point lead at 17-7 with 8:21 left in the game and his kickoff return changed the game’s momentum to the Panthers.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … Memorial senior Jaquan Holmes who caught four passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. His 80-yard TD late in the second quarter was the game’s first scoring, giving the Titans the lead heading into halftime.

KEY STATS … Memorial’s Cobe Stoever completed 10 of 18 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Semaj Pierre caught three passes for 51 yards and one TD. Ja’coryn Baker rushed seven times for 13 yards and Amante Martin rushed seven times for 12 yards. Memorial rushed for just 27 yards for the game.

KP’s Jaxon Sims completed 10 of 14 passes for 109 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed five times for 20 yards. Aiden Troost rushed 18 times for 86 yards and one touchdown. Brayden Moronko rushed 17 times for 51 yards. Ky’ell Sheffield caught three passes for 37 yards and one touchdown.

— Written by Daucy Crizer