Down 27 points in the third quarter, the La Marque Cougars could have just rolled over against state-ranked North Forest. Instead, the Coogs clawed back and displayed enough heart for its frustrated fanbase to have hope.
A late rally fell short as La Marque lost to the Class 4A, Division I powerhouse in a 36-31 defeat on Friday night, dropping the Cougars to 0-2 for the second time in the last three seasons.
“We’re not getting together as a team,” said Cougars head coach Mike Jackson. “I’m proud of how they played in the second half, but it wasn’t there in the first half. If we could have made a play or two then we might have had a different finish.”
Running backs Devin Smith and DaMarcus Nelson helped spur La Marque from a 36-9 deficit late in the third quarter. Smith rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown while Nelson, a freshman playing in his first varsity game, added 77 yards and a pair of scores.
The Coogs moved to within five when quarterback Myles Launius scored from 2 yards out with 24 seconds remaining, but the Bulldogs were able to recover the onside kick and whittle down the clock.
North Forest, which was playing in its first game of the season, torched the Cougars with a diverse offensive attack until quarterback D’Mond Joseph went down with an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter. Joseph fired a pair of touchdown passes to sophomore receiver Demond Demas, who finished with three scoring receptions on the evening as the highly sought-after wideout lived up to expectations.
Leading only 7-3 in the second quarter, the Bulldogs — who did not receive their game jerseys until late Thursday night — blew the game open. Jacoby Smith ran for a 26-yard touchdown, while Damond Wiggins followed with a 33-yard scoring jaunt. A blocked punt set North Forest up for the second of Demas’ scores, a 2-yard pass from Joseph with 1:01 left in the first half.
“As a team, we have to eliminate the drama during the week," said Jackson, whose team welcomes Columbia this Friday at 7:30 p.m. “There are no moral victories. We have to learn how to handle our business.”