UPDATE — The Indians are state champs, top South Oak Cliff for crown
Published 12:43 pm Saturday, December 16, 2023
ARLINGTON — Port Neches-Groves High’s quest for a state title ended in the same place against the same team as last year.
This time it was a happy ending.
The Indians won Saturday afternoon over the South Oak Cliff Bears 20-17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the 5A Division 2 championship.
The Indians finish the season at 15-1, while the Bears finish at 13-3.
Isaiah Nguyen finished the game with 19 rushes for 111 yards.
Gio Oceguera was named offensive MVP after connecting on four field goals.
PNG’s last state title before this season was 1975.
The game was sealed when the Bears’ hook-and-lateral attempt was snuffed out on a fourth-and-26 prayer with just 36 seconds remaining.
That was all set up after a huge third down sack from Andres Fuentes.
It was with only 3:32 left in the fourth quarter that PNG took its first lead of the second half.
The winning play was delivered by Shea Adams from 2 yards out on a quarterback keeper on third down.
Nguyen added a two-point conversion run to put the Indians up 20-17.
The game-winning drive started in Bears territory at the 48 yard line thanks to a beautifully called and better executed Indians onside kick that saw Maxwell Scroggs make the recovery with 7:37 left in the game.
PNG was trailing 17-12 at that point after just scoring a field goal (23 yards from Oceguera, his fourth of the day) with 7:39 seconds left in the game.
The Indians entered the fourth quarter trailing 17-9.
There was only one score in the third quarter — a 44-yard Bears touchdown run from Danny Green Jr. (his second of the day) with 6:21 left in the third frame.
The run was immediately preceded by completed passes from 13 yards and 24 yards by South Oak Cliff quarterback William Little.
Unfortunately for Bears fans, that was all the second half offense they could muster.
Following the game, Adams told the post-game television audience that it’s great to play in front of the best fan base in the nation.
Adams finished with 5 receptions, 43 yards receiving, six rushes, seven rushing yards and one all-important touchdown.
Connor Bailey completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 179 yards and zero turnovers.
Stay with panews.com for continuing coverage of today’s game.
— first half —
The first half proved the be a field goal-heavy approach for Port Neches-Groves.
The Indians put the first points of the game on the scoreboard when senior Giovanni Oceguera connected on a 32-yarder.
South Oak Cliff answered with a touchdown to end the first quarter with a 7-3 advantage over PNG.
The Indians were determined and methodical on their next scoring drive, going for 8-plus minutes and earning two fourth down conversions.
One included a Shea Adams dive, another was a slick conversion pass from quarterback Connor Bailey to Adams that gave the Indians a first down on the Bears’ 12 yard line.
That drive ended with a fourth-and-two on the 4 yard line. That led to a 21 yarder for Oceguera with 8:21 left in the second quarter.
The Indians quickly recovered a fumble 57 second later when Maxwell Scroggs got ahold of the football at the Bears 14 yard line.
Unfortunately for the Port Neches-Groves faithful, PNG had to settle for a Oceguera field goal four plays later (41 yards), giving the Indians a 9-7 lead with 6:22 left in the second quarter.
The Bears then went ball control on their own, possessing the pigskin for just more than six minutes and ending with a 31-yard field goal by Diego Varela with 17 seconds left in the first half.
South Oak Cliff took a 10-7 lead into halftime despite being outgained by PNG 132 to 78 in total yardage.