Chatagnier, Nguyen help Indians bulldoze way to 455 rushing yards in dominant playoff win

Published 10:48 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

KATY — The one-two punch of Port Neches-Groves running backs Blair Chatagnier and Isaiah Nguyen was too much for Leander Rouse as the Indians owned the line of scrimmage en route to a convincing 51-14 win Friday night at Legacy Stadium in the Region III Class 5A-Div. II Area Round of the playoffs.

PNG improves to 11-1 on the season and extends its winning streak to 10 games.

Rouse finishes the season with an 8-4 record.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Indians will now face Montgomery Lake Creek at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 in the regional semifinals at C.E. King Stadium in Houston (Sheldon ISD).

The date and time are to be determined and will be announced once available.

“We played really well tonight, and I think that was a testament to the way we practiced this week,” said PNG coach Jeff Joseph. “It showed up early in the game with the way we were able to run the ball.”

Chatagnier rushed for a game-high 193 yards on 10 carries and scored four touchdowns.

Nguyen rushed for 149 yards on 16 carries, all in the first half.

As a team, PNG rushed for 455 yards. Connor Bailey completed 5 of 10 passes for 107 yards.

The Indians amassed 562 yards of total offense.

“Blair has really made himself a better football player with the way he’s approached practice and the way he’s worked,” Joseph said. “Isaiah is who he is, and we know what he is. He’s as steady a guy as I’ve seen playing running back at the high school level. He’s consistent, he’s tough, he takes care of the football and does all the little things. Each week, Blair gets a little better than he was the week before. He’s big and strong. He’s fast in the open field once he gets past the line of scrimmage.”

Already leading 31-7 to start the third quarter, PNG went back to work on its first offensive possession of the second half. Chatagnier had runs of 17 and 50 yards. He closed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 37-7 as the extra point was no good.

Jacob Cabrera, right, and Jonathan Hernandez celebrate a stop during a second half defensive stand as PNG halted Rouse during their Area Round matchup at Legacy Stadium in Katy. (Jozlyn Oglesbee/NDN Press)

It didn’t take long for the Indians to score again as Kameron Droddy intercepted London Morgan on the first play of the Raiders’ ensuing drive. Droddy returned the interception 18 yards for a touchdown to extend PNG’s lead to 44-7 with 8:04 left in the third quarter.

The Indians defense stopped the Raiders on downs on their next possession, stuffing Jaiton McLaurin for no gain on fourth-and-one from the Rouse 35.

Chatagnier scored on the very next play from scrimmage for the Indians on a 35-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the game. That pushed the lead to 51-7 with 6:19 left in the third quarter.

Rouse scored the only points of the fourth quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Justin Cannon. That made the score 51-14 with 9:26 left in the game.

PNG was able to grind out five first downs to run out the remaining 9:26 and end the game.

“It’s awesome,” said Joseph on what it means to have another practice on Thanksgiving. “It’s a heck of a lot better than sitting at home all week of Thanksgiving and thinking about what could have been. I’m excited for our guys and our seniors that they get to play again next week.”

PNG took the opening kickoff and drove straight down the field to the Rouse 5. Nguyen ripped off four consecutive runs of 23, 22, 10 and 5 yards. The drive stalled and the Indians settled for a 22-yard field goal by Giovanni Oceguera for a quick 3-0 lead.

Rouse had a promising drive going to answer the Indians score. A 33-yard completion from Morgan to Leland Smit put the ball at the PNG 23. Two false start penalties and two incompletions led to the Raiders having to punt the ball.

PNG’s offense went right back to work. Again, it was a steady diet of Nguyen running the ball. He opened the drive with runs of 5, 6, 11, 16 and 17 yards.

Chatagnier came on to give Nguyen a brief rest and promptly scored on a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Indians a 10-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders responded with a scoring drive of their own. Morgan hit Keller Rogers for a 40-yard completion to the PNG 7. Morgan threw behind the line of scrimmage to Smit, who then passed to Noah Fabila for a 7-yard touchdown to make the score 10-7 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

It didn’t take long for PNG to respond. Reid Richard returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the Rouse 39. Bailey hit Nunnley on the first play from scrimmage for a 39-yard scoring strike. That pushed the lead to 17-7.

“When they put those safeties close to the line of scrimmage, it makes it one-on-on on the outside and our guys know that they have to win some of those opportunities,” said Joseph of taking some deep shots during the game. “We were able to hit a few of those tonight and it just makes our running game that much more effective.”

PNG put together another scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Bailey hit Nunnley for 12 yards on third-and-10 to keep the drive going. Chatagnier broke through the line for a 36-yard touchdown, his second of the game. That made the score 24-7.

The Indians weren’t done yet. After forcing a Rouse punt, Chatagnier started the drive with a 21-yard run. Bailey and Nunnley connected again, this time on a 49-yard touchdown pass. That gave the Indians a 31-7 lead with 1:26 left in the second quarter and the score remained that way as the teams went to the locker room at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … Lots of good plays to choose from, but Reid Richard’s 49-yard kickoff return after Rouse scored to make it a 10-7 game was what the Indians needed to keep the momentum on their side. Following his return, Connor Bailey hit London Nunnley for a 39-yard touchdown that put PNG up 17-7 and it was all Indians after that.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … Junior running back Blair Chatagnier, who rushed for a game-high 193 yards on 10 carries and four touchdowns.

KEY STATS … PNG’s London Nunnley had three catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Several underclassmen made the most of their opportunities running the ball led by Chris Diaz with 38 yards on four carries.

Aibel Jomon rushed seven times for 29 yards and Tyson Henry added 22 yards on four carries. Rouse was led by quarterback London Morgan who completed 17 of 31 passes for 199 yards. Justin Cannon rushed 12 times for 17 yards and caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown.

Keller Rogers had five catches for 71 yards. Leland Smit had four catches for 46 yards and also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fabila, who had three catches for 22 yards.

UP NEXT … PNG plays the winner of the Montgomery Lake Creek (11-0) vs. Crocket (7-4) game next week in the Region III Class 5A-Div. II semifinals.

— Written by Daucy Crizer