Thursday’s Class 5A-II bi-district playoff game between Texas City and Houston Waltrip proved that regular season records can be thrown out when it’s postseason time, as the Stings toppled the previously undefeated District 24-5A champion Rams, 24-14, at Delmar Stadium.
“Everybody’s records are the same once you start the playoffs — 0 and 0,” Texas City head coach Leland Surovik said. “You’ve got to win one game at a time, and you’ve got to do it six times.”
The Stings (4-5 overall, 4-3 in District 23-5A during the regular season) move on to the area round of the playoffs with a game at 8 p.m. Nov. 24 at NRG Stadium, where they will face the winner of a marquee Class 5A first-round matchup tonight between Crosby and Port Neches-Groves.
“This team wants to win, and we’re going to ride it as long as we can,” Surovik said.
The Stings took advantage of golden opportunities to get on top of Waltrip in the first half.
After a punt blocked by safety Nicholas Bell, Texas City’s Alex Paz put a 23-yard field goal through the uprights for a 3-0 lead with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.
A big hit by defensive end Yvan Andrew (who was a force all game long with four sacks and multiple QB pressures) popped the ball out on a Waltrip running play, and linebacker Markez Demeyers plucked the ball out of the air to set up another score.
“Our D-line did a great job of pass rushing with just three down,” Surovik said. “Sometimes there were just four rushers, but they were still putting pressure on them, still getting to them. … Yvan had a great game, and the entire defense, I’m proud of them.”
On the offense’s first play after the turnover, receiver Nicolas Milburn (three receptions, 46 yards) ran a reverse 14 yards to the end zone for a 17-0 lead with 3:41 left on the second-quarter clock.
Texas City’s other touchdown in the first half came on a 61-yard drive to start the second quarter. Stings quarterback Phillip McDaniel (8-for-18, 99 yards) threaded the needle, and multi-position athlete Zion Davis made a tremendous catch for 26 yards to help set up a 4-yard TD pass from McDaniel to tight end Ra’Vion Oliver-Haynes for a 10-0 lead at the 8:15 mark of the second quarter.
On their first possession of the second half, the Stings saw a 41-yard connection from McDaniel to Milburn set up a 1-yard TD plunge by Jonathan Jones for a 24-0 lead at the 8:54 mark of the third quarter.
But, Waltrip regained life thanks to big plays.
“Our offense did a great job of putting up points early, and they we just kind of sat on it,” Surovik said. “I wish we could’ve put more points on and made it a little easier for us.”
A 34-yard pass connection from Cameron Howe (29-for-52, 332 yards) to Semaj Sims (five receptions, 78 yards) helped set up a 7-yard TD pass from Howe to Jordan Washington (eight receptions, 76 yards) midway through the third quarter.
Then, a 57-yard TD pass from Howe to Orvis Fowler (seven receptions, 98 yards) got Waltrip to within 10 points with 3:25 still left to go in the third quarter.
After that, the Rams shot themselves in the hooves by turning the ball over on downs on trick plays (a fake punt and a fake field goal), and interceptions by defensive backs Tarrance Brooks and Zach Henry helped seal the deal for Texas City.
“We got up, but that’s an explosive offense, an explosive team,” Surovik said. “They’re one heck of a team. I’m proud of my guys, the way they fought the whole game.”
Jo’Vel McDaniel led Texas City’s rushing attack with 94 yards on 14 carries. Paz had a solid outing punting the ball, averaging 40.1 yards per punt on seven kicks.
While Waltrip got chunks of yards through the air, Texas City completely shut down the run, holding the Rams to minus-8 yards on 21 rushes.
Thursday night marked Texas City’s first playoff win since 2013 — the twin stars D’Onta and Armanti Foreman’s senior seasons.
“It’s a huge step,” Surovik said. “We have a bunch of youngsters, and I’m proud of what they’ve done. You can’t say enough about them. They played well on both sides of the ball.”