DEFENSE ON DISPLAY — Port Neches-Groves sets sights on Rouse Raiders

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

PORT NECHES — For the third consecutive year, Port Neches-Groves High advances to the second round of the 5A-Division II playoffs.

Coming off a resounding 37-7 win over Brenham in the opening round, the Indians now hit the road to take on the Leander Rouse Raiders at Legacy Stadium in Katy.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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The Raiders (8-3, 4-2 in District 11-5A Division II) are coming off a 55-27 win over McCallum in the first round.

PNG (10-1, 7-1) enters the week on a 10-game streak, playing lights-out defense.

In the opening game of the season, the Indians gave up 24 points to Memorial. Since then, no team has scored more than 23 points on the PNG defense, with three teams (West Orange-Stark, Texas City and Fort Bend Willowridge) reaching the 20-point mark.

And the defense has only gotten better.

Only one team (rival Nederland) scored more than 14 points in the past five games, and the Bulldogs were held to 16 points.

Coach Jeff Joseph speaks with the Indians student-athletes near the end of Tuesday’s practice. (Chris Moore/The News)

“There are not a ton secrets for us on defense,” Indians head coach Jeff Joseph said. “Our coaches come up with good plans and our kids play really hard. We get multiple people to the football at the point of attack. The effort with which we play — the team aspect — has showed up in some of the games this year.”

The offense is also hitting on all cylinders, averaging 41 points per game since the last week of September. Last week, in cold and rainy weather, the Indians leaned on a dominating offensive line.

“We have played well,” Joseph said. “We handled the rain well, I thought. We continue to play with great effort.”

Rouse enters the contest on a two-game winning streak, scoring 42 and 55 points in its last two contests.

“They have good skill players,” Joseph said. “They have a lot of speed at receiver and at running back. He ran for 1,500 yards last year as a junior and is a really good football player.”

PNG’s strength could be Rouse’s weakness.

In Week 7 contest against Chaparral, Rouse gave up 433 yards rushing. The Raiders came away with a 49-36 win but allowed three rushers to reach the 100-yard mark.

Rouse’s worst loss of the season came in Week 1 in a 34-10 blowout to Lake Belton, which lost in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Raiders’ current two-game streak follows a two-game losing streak to University and Pflugerville, respectively. Both teams lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Last year, PNG faced Austin LBJ in the second round and came away with a 24-19 win.