Bobcats battle Buccaneers Thursday night with playoff seeding implications

Published 12:16 am Friday, November 3, 2023

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ORANGEFIELD — The East Chambers Buccaneers overpowered the Orangefield Bobcats in the district finale Thursday night, claiming a second place seed with a 28-6 victory.

The Bobcats started the game strong and took the opening kickoff downfield on a 12-play drive that consumed 5:32 off the clock and covered 69 yards.

It was Mason Manning punching the ball in on a 6-yard run to give Orangefield a quick 6-0 lead over the Bucs.

The Buccaneers took the lead back on the ensuing drive as East Chambers answered with a 68-yard drive in just over four minutes. The drive featured a heavy dose of running back Hayden Reeves as he carried the ball on seven of eight plays, which included the 1-yard touchdown run to give East Chambers a 7-6 lead following the Eric Davila extra point.

East Chambers made it 14-6 on its next drive after the defense forced the Bobcats to punt.

This time the Buccaneers moved the ball 86 yards in just seven plays in a brisk 2:43 as running back Ja’den Thibodeaux scored on a 3-yard run.

Orangefield responded on its next possession and moved into the Bucs red zone before turning the ball over on downs as the Bucs defense stiffened.

East Chambers showcased its speed and quick strike capabilities next. On the second play of the drive, running back and receiver Jarrell Smith took the handoff and outraced the Bobcats defense 83 yards for another Buccaneers score for a 21-6 lead at halftime.

The first-half featured big plays and quick drives, but the second-half was about ball control and time-consuming possessions for both teams.

Orangefield only had two offensive possessions in the second half.

East Chambers took the kickoff to start the third quarter and methodically moved the ball down the field on a drive that consumed 7:29 and covered 63 yards in 13 plays.

Reeves scored his second touchdown of the night on a 6-yard scamper into the end zone, giving the Bucs a 28-6 lead.

Orangefield used its running back tandem of Manning, Kane Smith and Fernando Sandoval-Rodriguez to great success much of the season, but East Chambers kept the Bobcats potent ground game in check much of the night.

The Bobcats finished the night with 178 total yards.

Rodriguez led the Orangefield attack with 65 yards on 10 carries.

East Chambers had 343 total yards of offense and Smith led all rushers with 113 yards on the ground, one touchdown and five yards receiving. Reeves added 82 yards on 19 totes.

The Bobcats (5-5, 4-2) finish the regular season as the third place seed in District 10-3A Division I and face the Woodville Eagles, the second place seed from District 9-3A.

Woodville beat Orangefield earlier this season, 19-7.

The Bi-District round of the playoffs will be held Thursday/Nov. 9 through Saturday/Nov. 11.

The exact time, date and location of the Orangefield and Woodville game is still to be determined.

— Written by Tommy Mann Jr.