Looking for a big upset in Friday night’s Region III-5A, Division II area round playoff game, the Texas City Stings lost in heartbreaking fashion, 24-17, against the heavily-favored Port Neches-Groves Indians.
“I’m proud of everything they’ve accomplished this year,” Texas City head coach Leland Surovik said. “You hate losing a game, you hate worse losing like this.”
After PN-G got the go-ahead score on an 18-yard touchdown run by Jose Ceja at the 5:50 mark of the fourth quarter, Texas City began marching down the field from the 25-yard line on its ensuing possession.
Just when it looked like the Stings were going to coast for the game-tying score on a wide-open run, running back Jonathan Jones (81 rushing yards) collided with teammate Ra’Vion Oliver-Haynes at the Indians’ 3-yard line, forcing a fumble recovered by PN-G in the end zone.
With a heavy dose of star quarterback Roschon Johnson (67 yards passing, 193 rushing yards) running the ball and moving the chains, PN-G was able to drain the remaining 3:01 off the clock to seal the game.
Facing an explosive Indians offense led by Johnson (a Texas commit who scored a combined 10 touchdowns in PN-G’s 72-69 bi-district win over Crosby last week), the Stings couldn’t have scripted a much better start to the game.
Texas City’s defense forced a three-and-out on PN-G’s opening possession and then the Stings’ offense kept the ball out of their purple-and-white-clad counterparts’ hands for 7:05 on a 14-play drive that resulted in a 20-yard Alex Paz field goal for an early 3-0 lead.
The Stings defense forced a turnover on downs, but the offense couldn’t keep up the momentum, and an 11-yard punt gave the Indians favorable field position at the 39-yard line.
PN-G wasted little time, scoring in five plays with a 32-yard TD run by Johnson putting the exclamation point on the quick drive.
A nice pass defended by Stings safety Kenny Smith kept PN-G out of the end zone, holding the Indians to a field goal for a 10-3 lead with 9 seconds left in the first half.
PN-G went ahead 17-3 at the 8:16 mark of the third quarter on a 19-yard pass connection from Johnson to Preston Riggs, but the Stings rallied to get back into the game — beginning with one electrifying play.
Multi-position athlete Zion Davis took a handoff on the first play of a Stings drive 82 yards for a touchdown to get the score to 17-10 midway through the third quarter.
Texas City couldn’t take advantage of recovering a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Stings managed to tie the game, 17-17, on a long drive capped by an 18-yard TD run by Jo’Vel McDaniel (43 rushing yards) at the 9:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
“I told them at halftime we have to do is go out there and play our game and do our thing and let the chips fall where they may,” Surovik said. “We did that. It just wasn’t meant to be, for some reason. It wasn’t that one fumble’s fault. It’s just part of football; the ball bounced a different way.”
The teams were about even as can be in total yards, with Texas City racking up 346 to PN-G’s 353.