With nine local players representing Galveston County in the Bayou Bowl at Challenger Columbia Stadium on Saturday night, the East team fell just short in a 31-21 defeat to the West team.
The Bayou Bowl is a showcase for some of the top football players in the Houston area.
Galveston County athletes invited to the East team roster were Santa Fe quarterback Nathan Kruger and receiver Austin Lamb, Clear Creek quarterback Hunter Smith, Clear Falls receiver Brandon Woodson and offensive lineman Emery Gallia, Texas City defensive back Mykahl Brow, Friendswood offensive lineman Michael Gibson, Dickinson offensive lineman Torrey Lastice and Clear Springs offensive lineman Chris Aldridge.
Also serving as an offensive coach for the East team was Clear Falls head coach Zach Head.
“Overall, it was a really cool experience,” Lamb said. “It was cool playing with the best of the best.”
“It was cool to be selected to play, but things didn’t turn out quite how we wanted it,” Kruger added. “It was really cool going to practice and meeting all the really good players from around the area.”
After a slow start to the game, the county contingent led the East team from a 10-0 deficit to a 14-10 halftime lead.
A turnover on downs with a personal foul penalty against the West team tacked onto the end of the play gave the East favorable field position at the West 36-yard line, and four plays later (and aided by another West personal foul), Smith (142 passing yards total) connected with Woodson with a terrific throw and catch for a 9-yard touchdown to trim the West’s lead to 10-7 at the 2:57 mark of the second quarter.
On the West’s next possession, a bad snap was pounced on by Klein Collins’ Kyler Williams, and two plays later, Santa Fe quarterback Nathan Kruger found Indians teammate Austin Lamb for a 13-yard TD pass to give the East a 14-10 lead with 45 seconds left in the first half. For the two seniors, it was a final TD connection between a quarterback and his favorite target
“I’ve got goosebumps right now talking about it,” Kruger said. “This is my boy right here, forever. And that connection is going to last forever.”
The West got out to an early lead with a 30-yard field goal from Cy Lakes’ Joseph Staiano on its opening possession of the game.
On the West’s next possession, the team capped a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with a 25-yard TD pass from Alvin Shadow Creek’s Ja’Marian George to Katy Mayde Creek’s Jason Strong for the 10-0 lead at the 4:21 mark of the first quarter.
The second half was pure West, as the team rattled off 21 unanswered points in response to the East’s late first half charge.
The West embarked on an eight-play 67-yard drive capped off by an 11-yard TD pass from Alief Hastings’ Javon Williams to Richmond Foster’s Shadeed Ahmed to retake the lead, 17-14, on the opening drive of the second half.
Following an East team fumble, George pushed the West lead to 24-14 on a 2-yard QB keeper midway through the third quarter, and a 6-yard TD run by Fort Bend Kempner’s Jordan Shelton put the West up, 31-14, at the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter.
The East added a late score on a 22-yard rumble up the middle from C.E. King’s Rodrick Crumedy for the final tally.
The West was often hamstrung by penalties, committing 13 for 140 yards, while the East was flagged just five times for 49 yards. The West team won the first downs battle, 18-8.
George (124 all-purpose yards, two TDs) claimed the game’s offensive most valuable player award, which was presented by last year’s winner and Clear Creek alum Sam Mathews. Jarred Jones of Cypress Ranch won defensive MVP.