West Orange-Stark’s Week 3 battle with Port Neches-Groves goes into overtime

Published 11:04 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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PORT NECHES – If you like backyard brawl, smash mouth football, which also featured several big plays, then Friday’s non-district game between Port Neches-Groves and West Orange-Stark at The Reservation was right up your alley.

Four quarters were not enough time to determine the winner. The Indians’ Isaiah Nguyen scored on a 30-yard touchdown run in overtime to give PNG a 26-20 lead.

Kameron Droddy intercepted the Mustangs’ Ja’Mikael Davis in the end to secure the win for the Indians.

“Unbelievable game. We made some adjustments at halftime and our kids just kept battling,” said PNG coach Jeff Joseph. “We had a hard time tackling them (WOS). They have some really good athletes and strong guys that ran through us in space a few times.

“I talked to our kids at halftime about playing with heart and passion because that’s what it was going to take to win a game like this.”

After a defensive struggle in the first half, both teams opened up the offense, especially the big plays, in the second half. Leading 6-3 to start the third quarter, WOS forced the Indians to punt on their first possession of the third quarter.

The Mustangs wasted little time as Tahj Amerson scored on a 69-yard touchdown run on the Mustangs’ first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.

Jalen Gilmore ran in the two-point conversion to extend the WOS lead to 14-3 with 9:47 left in the third quarter.

PNG (2-1) would answer right back with a scoring drive of its own. Isaiah Nguyen scored on a 48-yard run. A failed two-point conversion made the score 14-9 with 8:31 left in the third.

The Indians defense stopped WOS on three straight tries from the PNG 10, forcing incompletions on third and fourth down as the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs.

PNG took its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter. Nguyen busted through the line of scrimmage and raced 70 yards to the WOS 13, which was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty.

Nguyen rushed three more times to the 1 and Connor Bailey scored on a 1-yard sneak to put the Indians up 17-14.

WOS (2-1) would answer right back. Marcus Turner connected with Andrew Cooper on completions of 10 and 4 yards to start the drive.

Turner ran for 15 yards to the PNG 21. Two plays later, Turner scrambled to the right and raced 20 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed to make the score 20-17 with 3:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Needing at least a field goal to tie the game. PNG’s offense went back to work. Nguyen went back to work carrying the ball fives times for 33 yards on the drive, which stalled at the WOS 19.

That set up a game-tying 36-yard field goal by Giovanni Oceguera, tying the score at 20-20 with :39 seconds left in regulation.

More impressive was the fact PNG was playing the entire second half with sophomore Connor Bailey at quarterback. He attempted four passes and didn’t complete any. All of the Indians second half offense was from the ground game.

“Our offensive line buckled down and went to work,” said Joseph. “Isaiah ran super hard. We stayed patient and didn’t try to force things. We just went back to doing what we do best. We are an inside gap running team and that’s what we did.”

It was all about the defenses in the first half. WOS had a promising drive going on the opening possession of the game. The Mustangs picked up a first down on a 12-yard completion from Marcus Turner to Nicholas Crosson to the 44. The drive stalled there, and WOS was forced to punt.

WOS got the offense going on the ensuing possession. The drive started with a 30-yard completion Tahj Amerson on a swing pass out of the backfield. Turner followed with four consecutive runs of 7, 5, 6 and 9 yards.

The last of which went for a 9-yard TD run up the middle, with Turner powering his way across the goal line. The two-point conversion failed to make the score 6-0 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.

PNG put together a strong drive on its next possession. Most of the damage was done on the ground. The Indians moved the ball to the WOS 32, but a false start penalty pushed them back five yards and that derailed the drive.

After the Indians defense forced another punt by the Mustangs, the PNG offense put together its first scoring drive. The big play was a 49-yard run by Adams on a quarterback keeper to the WOS 16.

However, Adams appeared to injure his ankle and would leave the game after two more plays, and he did not come back in the second half.

The Indians stalled there and had to settle for a 36-yard Giovanni Oceguera field goal to make the score 6-3 with 1:35 left in the second quarter. That’s how the teams went to the locker room at halftime.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME WAS … PNG’s Isaiah Nguyen had plenty of big runs that could have been the play of the game. His 48-yard TD run in the third quarter. But his 30-yard TD run in overtime was the game winner.

THE GAME BALL GOES TO … Isaiah Nguyen of PNG who rushed for 205 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.

KEY STATS … PNG completed just one pass for four yards as all of the offense came from its strong running game, which amassed 306 yards. Shea Adams rushed for 61 yards on eight carries. Blair Chatagnier rushed 11 times for 48 yards. WOS was led by quarterback Marcus Turner, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 137 yards. He also rushed for 115 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. Tahj Amerson rushed 11 times for 89 yards and one TD. Nicholas Crosson caught four passes for 75 yards.

UP NEXT… Port Neches-Groves has a bye next week before opening up district play at home against Fort Bend Marshall Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.

West Orange-Stark returns home to host Newton in a non-district game next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

— Written By Daucy Crizer