LITTLE CYPRESS —
Riding the legs of Alex Sezer, the arm of Caleb Harley and a fierce defensive effort, the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears clobbered the Port Neches-Groves Indians 35-6 in front of a capacity crowd at Battlin’ Bear Stadium Friday night in District 20-4A play.
Sezer chewed up the Indians for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Harley completed 8-of-10 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Two of the TDs went to receiver Dalton Doyle, who has hauled in 10 receptions for 277 yards and four TDs in the last two games.
Defensively, the Bears (2-3, 1-1) put the clamps on PN-G quarterback A.J. Smith, picking him off five times. Smith completed 16-of-31 passes for 112 yards.
It was a nice bounce-back win for the Bears, who lost a tough 42-35 decision at Livingston last week.
“The kids really were focused and played hard tonight, especially after losing a tough game on the road last week,” said Crouch. “We really played well in all phases of the game and they showed what they’re capable of tonight. We moved the ball extremely well on offense, cashing in on some turnovers. What we’re really proud of the most is our defensive effort. It was by far our best effort of the season and it truly is something to build on.”
LC-M piled up 424 yards of total offense while limiting the Indians (2-3, 1-1) to 191.
Smith’s favorite target was receiver Jeremiah Rose, who hauled in 11 receptions for 74 yards. Tim Clopton led a sluggish Indians run game with 49 yards on 14 carries.
The Bears dominated the Indians in every fashion in the first half.
LC-M piled up 274 yards of total offense, 154 on the ground and 120 in the air.
Meanwhile the Bear defense held the Indians to just 77 yards to go along with the four picks of Smith.
Bear defensive back Dylan Gruber netted the first turnover when he picked off Smith at the LC-M 39 with 7:38 left in the first period.
On the ensuing play, Sezer strutted his sprinter speed that led him to back-to-back state track trips by taking a carry off right tackle and then hitting the sidelines for a 61-yard touchdown gallop. Kicker Trent Manuel booted the extra-point as the Bears snared a 7-0 lead with 7:27 in the first.
“We really got some momentum with that Gruber interception,” said Crouch. “With Sezer, we know we have a X-factor that can take it to the house on any play. He was truly amazing tonight. Harley was very efficient and is making great decisions. Him and Doyle have been quite the combination of late and Billy Jones had a great catch for a touchdown tonight.”
Sezer, despite battling cramps, had 146 yards on 15 carries in the first half.
Teondre Gant picked Smith off at the PN-G 45 with 2:29 in the first but the Bears returned the favor when Harley fumbled the ball over to PN-G defensive lineman Steven Mangini at the Indian 40.
Gruber got in on the act again, netting his second pick of the game when he intercepted a Smith toss at the Bear 40 with 1:22 in the first.
The Bears drove all the way down to the Indian 6 in six plays and Sezer had a six-yard touchdown up the middle called back due to a holding call. The Indian defense stiffened up and the Bears failed to score when Manuel missed a 22-yard field-goal attempt with 7:52 in the half.
The Bears made up for it on their next series, going 83 yards in six plays. It was capped by Harley and Doyle as they hooked up on a 52-yard touchdown strike. Harley hit a wide-open Doyle down the left sideline at about the Indian 40 and Doyle sprinted to the end zone untouched to up the margin to 14-0 with 3:21 remaining in the half. Doyle finished with 118 yards on three catches.
Harley finished the first half 6-of-8 for 120 yards and two scores.
After the Bears sacked Smith twice, they got nice field position at the Indian 43 at the tail end of the half. Two plays later Harley hit receiver Billy Jones on a perfect pass over the middle over the outstretched arms of an Indian defender and Jones cashed it in for a 44-yard touchdown pass to make it a 21-0 game with 1:21 left in the half.
The Indians marched from their own 31 to the Bear 28 in the waning seconds but LC-M defensive back Brandon Toliver picked off another Smith pass intended for receiver Jeremiah Rose in the end zone.
“The defense buried them (Indians) back deep with those big sacks and punching in that late touchdown and closing the half with another pick really put us in excellent shape going into the field house at the half,” said Crouch.
Smith completed 8-of-16 passes for 55 yards in the half with Rose hauling in six of them for 44 yards. Tim Clopton led the Indian running game with 25 yards on eight carries.
The Bears hit paydirt on their first series of the third period, navigating 61 yards in six plays with Sezer getting 53 yards on five carries, including a 36-yard touchdown jaunt off right tackle to make it 28-0 with 7:14 in the third.
After linebacker Troy Angelo picked off a Smith pass and returned it to the LC-M 42, the Bears struck again when Harley found Doyle along the PN-G sideline. After an Indian defender slipped, Doyle darted down the right sideline for a 55-yard yard score, making it 35-0 with 3:21 in the third.
The Indians got on the board early in the fourth period, completing an 11-play, 58-yard scoring march when Smith connected with Rose on a beautiful 11-yard touchdown pass over the middle in the back of the end zone. The extra-point kick failed as the Indians trailed 35-6 with 10:42 left.
The Bears will host another Mid-County squad next week when the Nederland Bulldogs visit Battlin’ Bear Stadium while the Indians head to Beaumont to face Central.
“It doesn’t get any easier, not in this league,” said Crouch. “There’s no rest, we’ve got the Bulldogs coming in here next week. They’re the district favorite and our kids are eager for the challenge.”
LC-M 7 14 14 0— 35
PN-G 0 0 0 6 — 6
LC-M: Alex Sezer 61 run. Trent Manuel kick.
LC-M: Dalton Doyle 52 pass from Caleb Harley. Manuel kick.
LC-M: Billy Jones 44 pass from Harley. Manuel kick.
LC-M: Sezer 36 run. Manuel kick.
LC-M: Doyle 55 pass from Harley. Manuel kick.
PN-G: Jeremiah Rose 11 pass from A.J. Smith. Kick failed.
First downs 14 14
Rushes-yards 36-241 27-79
Passing 183 112
Comp-Att-Int 8-10-0 16-31-5
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-40 3-20
Rushing: LC-M, Alex Sezer 23-217, Brandon Toliver 7-18, Casey Viator 3-9, Andrew Meyers 1-3, Caleb Harley 1-0, Trent Manuel 1-(-6); PN-G, Tim Clopton 14-49, Diego Medina 1-11, Kaleb Clark 4-8, Spencer Wommack 1-7, A.J. Smith 1-4.