The Orange Leader
BRIDGE CITY —
The Buna Cougars aren’t known for their “air raids” but they sure got it done against the Bridge City Cardinals in the District 21-3A opener for both teams Friday night at Larry Ward Stadium.
Buna quarterback Joseph Clark completed just 4-of-8 passes but they went for 128 yards and two touchdowns as the Cougars went on to defeat the injury-riddled Cardinals 36-7.
Buna (4-1, 1-0) finished with 326 yards while limiting the Cardinals (1-3, 0-1) to just 141.
The Cardinals also shot themselves in the foot with four turnovers.
Tailback Matthew Biddle had 76 yards on 11 carries and hauled in a 56-yard TD pass from Clark.
Cardinal quarterback Chase Shugart gave it a shot despite nursing an injured shoulder. He completed 7-of-20 passes for 56 yards and had two interceptions.
Jhett Simmons and Jonah Lemoine led the Cardinal ground game with 29 yards a piece.
Shugart played despite the shoulder injury. Hunter Uzzle, a key component on offense and defense was out with a concussion and starting receiver and playmaker Malcolm Busby was also out. And of course, 1,000-yard rusher of a year ago Ashton Hunter is out for the season.
“It’s tough when three of your best players are standing on the sidelines,” said Cardinal coach Cris Stump. “But we can’t use that as an excuse. Buna got after it tonight and beat us up physically up front. Give them credit, they’re a big, strong football team and they got after us.”
The Cougars definitely had the momentum going in the first half with 28 unanswered points, using a surprising passing game.
Buna outgained the Cardinals 235-44 in the first 24 minutes.
Clark was 4-for-7 for 128 yards and two touchdown passes. The Cougar defense was stiff, limiting BC to just two first turnovers and a pair of turnovers.
After pinning the Cardinals deep on BC’s first series of the game, the Cougars navigated 46 yards in eight plays to hit paydirt.
The key play came on fourth-and-6 from the 25 when Clark connected with McCrea Lopez with a 15-yard pass to keep the chains moving. Two plays later Mason Lopez took it into the end zone, going five yards off left tackle. The point-after kick failed as the Cougars led 6-0 with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals moved from their own 29 all the way to the Buna 33 but on fourth-and-9, Shugart lost the ball to Cougar lineman Aaron Hardy at the Buna 39.
The Cougars responded by going on a six-play, 61-yard scoring march.
Tailback Matthew Biddle keyed in with a 37-yard run to the Cardinal 24 and five plays later fullback Justin Kennedy bolted into the end zone from two yards to make it 12-0 with 1:08 in the first. The two-point conversion run failed.
The Cougars upped their advantage to 20-0 with 10:10 left in the half when Clark hit Biddle with a nice pass over the middle and Biddle did the rest to complete a 56-yard touchdown pass. Mason Lopez added the two-point conversion run.
“Buna made some tremendous plays in the passing game and usually don’t think about them doing that,” said Stump. “Give their quarterback and receivers credit, those passes were accurate, the receivers made good plays on the ball because we were right there on each one of them.”
Buna finished the half with a five-play, 58-yard scoring drive and capped it when Clark hit McCrea Lopez in stride down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown dart. Biddle ran in the two-pointer to make it 28-0 with 0:36 in the half.
The Cougars made it 36-0 on their first series of the second half. Perry Smith finished off a nine-play, 47-yard drive with a four-yard blast up the middle then he converted the two-point conversion with 7:14 left in the third.
The Cardinals got on the board with 4:04 remaining in the game when quarterback Byron Trahan found receiver Cade Mosely in the right corner of the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown pass. The four-play, 49-yard drive was set up nicely by a 22-yard run by back Jhett Simmons.
Bridge City got inside the Buna 30 on two occasions in the third quarter but Shugart had two passes picked off.
“Offensively, it was a struggle all night,” said Stump. “We’ve got to come out here Monday and bounce back with a good practice. We’ve got Jasper next and five more of these district games to try to make some improvements.”
The Cardinals return to non-district action next week when they play host to the Jasper Bulldogs.
Bridge City 7
BC 0 0 0 7 —7
Buna 12 16 8 0—36
Buna: Mason Lopez 5 run. Kick failed.
Buna: Justin Kennedy 2 run. Run failed.
Buna: Matthew Biddle 56 pass from Joseph Clark. Mason Lopez run.
Buna: McCrea Lopez 38 pass from Clark. Biddle run.
Buna: Perry Smith 4 run. Smith run.
BC: Cade Mosely 18 pass from Byron Trahan. Thomas Findley kick.
First downs 8 17
Rushes-yards 19-67 46-198
Passing 74 128
Comp-Att-Int 8-23-2 4-8-0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-27 9-75
Rushing: Bridge City, Jonah Lemoine 10-29, Jhett Simmons 2-29, Byron Trahan 1-3 Chase Shugart 6-6, Buna, Matthew Biddle 11-76, Mason Lopez 7-19, Jonah Jackson 3-15, Justin Kennedy 9-37, Perry Smith 10-43, McCrea Lopez 2-6, Cody Ireland 1-3, Joseph Clark 3-(-1).
Passing: Bridge City, Chase Shugart, 7-20-2 56, Byron Trahan 1-3-0 18; Buna, Joseph Clark, 4-8-0 128
Receiving: Bridge City, Riley Harris,1-13, Blaine Slaughter 1-11, Byron Trahan 1-9, Cade Mosely 2-26, Corbin Davis 1-6, Colby Trahan 2-9; Buna, McCrea Lopez 2-53, Matthew Biddle 1-56, Cody Ireland 1-19.