The cold weather wasn’t the only thing that chilled La Marque’s four-game winning streak Friday night.
East Bernard quarterback Peyton Bertrand rushed for two touchdowns while the defense smothered the Cougars’ ground game in a 28-7 win that gave the Buccaneers the driver’s seat in District 12-3A-1. Ernest Ceasar and Kam Smith added touchdown runs to improve East Chambers’ record to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in district play while the Coogs fell to 4-4 and 2-1 in district.
“They showed why I felt they would be perhaps the toughest team we’d face this season,” said La Marque coach Mike Jackson. “They got after us and really did a great job of keeping our run game in check. We just weren’t able to establish anything for most of the night.”
It wasn’t as if the Cougars didn’t have chances.
The Cougars trailed 14-7 at the half after Norvan Saldaña’s 1-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left before intermission. The Cougars had three chances inside the Buccaneers 30-yard line in the third quarter and failed to cash in on each occasion. La Marque twice had the ball inside the 15-yard line that also included a 1st-and-goal at the East Chambers’ 8-yard line yet were denied.
East Chambers held La Marque to just 110 yards on 38 carries.
“When you have issues running the ball in the red zone, you’re going to struggle to win games,” said Jackson. “That was the game in a nutshell.”
The Buccaneers used a 62-yard catch from Smith on the game’s second play to set up Ceasar’s 11-yard touchdown run just 1:59 into the first quarter before Bertrand’s 1-yard plunge extended the margin for East Chambers at the 4:07 mark of the second quarter.
Only a stubborn La Marque defense kept the game from getting out of hand, holding East Chambers twice inside the red zone before Saldaña’s run cut the gap.
Bertrand broke the game when he carved through the Cougars’ defense for a 58-yard score that gave them a 21-7 edge with 9:31 left in the contest, while Smith’s 1-yard run provided extra security with 2:14 remaining.
“This is a hard-working group of young men who will shake this off and get focused on the next game,” said Jackson, whose team plays Hempstead at Etheredge Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.