The Hitchcock Bulldogs clinched a share of the District 12-3A-I title with a 44-24 win over the East Chambers Buccaneers on Friday night in Winnie.
In a battle between the last two undefeated teams remaining in the district, it was Hitchcock’s offense that powered the Bulldogs while the Bulldogs’ defense managed to shut down the Buccaneers’ offense in the second half.
Hitchcock improved to 5-3 overall and 4-0 in district play while the Buccaneers fell to 5-3 and 3-1.
“It’s huge,” said Hitchcock acting coach Cody Carney. “This is the first time in school history that we ever had back-to-back district titles. We’ve preached it all week. We probably had the best practice of the season this week. The kids were very focused and I’m proud of them.”
The Bulldogs built a 22-17 halftime lead before Hitchcock’s defense allowed only one score from East Chambers in the second half.
“We just talked to them at the half and said that the game wasn’t over just yet,” Carney said. “They were going to have to play with bigger intensity and they came out did what we asked them to do.”
The Buccaneers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game when running back Ernest Ceaser took the opening kickoff all the way for a 60-yard touchdown.
Hitchcock running back Deonza McCardell answered back with a 31-yard touchdown run on the Bulldogs’ second drive of the game before the 2-point conversion run came up short with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
“After they opened up with a kickoff return, everyone kept their heads up,” Carney said. “They stopped us on our first drive but the kids were still motivated and we were able to get on the board.”
Facing fourth down on Hitchcock’s side of the field, Buccaneers quarterback Peyton Bertrand hooked up with wide receiver Kordell David for a 38-yard touchdown pass to put the Buccaneers ahead at the 3:47 mark in the opening quarter.
Hitchcock fullback Xavian Hampton tied the game with a 13-yard touchdown carry and converted on the 2-point conversion run at the start of the second quarter.
Kicker Jose Chavez knocked in a 32-yard field goal to give the Buccaneers a 17-14 lead with 5:10 remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs went in front for the first time off a 24-yard touchdown run by running back John Paul Lowe and after Hampton’s 2-point conversion, Hitchcock had a 22-17 lead at the half.
Cornerback Chris Richardson-Williams picked off Bertrand on the Buccaneers’ first drive of the second half at East Chambers’ 35-yard line. It was the only interception of the night from either team.
The Bulldogs took advantage with the change of possession by scoring on a 35-yard touchdown run by McCardell followed by a successful 2-point conversion, extending Hitchcock’s lead to 30-17.
Fullback Tyger Turner’s 49-yard dart down the field capped off a Hitchcock scoring drive with 2:42 in the third quarter.
The Buccaneers turned the ball over on downs at Hitchcock’s 35-yard line at the end of the third quarter and Bulldogs quarterback Pacey Jones added a touchdown run from 1 yard out soon after for a 44-17 advantage.
East Chambers running back Nolton Shelvin broke free for a 43-yard run to Hitchcock’s 9-yard line to set up his touchdown run on the following play with 7:46 remaining.
The Bulldogs will next face the La Marque Cougars 7:30 p.m. next Friday at home to close out their regular season, while the Buccaneers will travel to face the Anahuac Panthers.