File Photo: Chris Brown/Texas HS Football

SPRING, Texas — Some nights, it’s nice to be lucky and good.

Thursday night at Memorial Stadium Klein Collins High School got a little of both, winning its fourth consecutive game and remaining undefeated after Thursday’s 21-10 victory against Klein Oak’s Panthers behind Isaiah Spiller and a stout defensive effort.

Associated Press No. 10 Klein Collins (4-0, 2-0) rumbled toward first in 15-6A and a three-way, first-place deadlock with Klein and Stratford High Schools — dependent on where the district stands after the smoke of Friday’s Klein-Memorial and Stratford-Northbrook battles play out.

And though one rival was state-ranked facing a non-ranked adversary, it took more than a modicum of grit to stay in the AP’s top 10.

After a quick three and out on the game’s first drive, Klein Collins would give the ball to Klein Oak. A fumble on the kick return, however, gave the ball back to the Spiller and the Tigers with a short-field advantage. The Tigers sidestepped early disaster when Spiller’s fumble at the end of a 10-yard rush was recovered by wide receiver Joseph Cordova in the end zone for an ensuing score.

The Tigers used Spiller to attack the edges of the Panthers’ defensive line, as well as run the ball between the tackles in the second quarter. A long and drive-sustaining pass and catch that led Klein Collins to its second score nearly landed a knockout blow if not for the play of Tyler Hudson, a 2019 four-star receiver.

Hudson had key catches early for Klein Oak and added a long punt return which gave the Panthers their best field position of the night and led to a Klein Oak field goal that whittled the deficit to 14-3 by halftime.

After both teams exchanged punts to start the second half and the strong defensive play of the first two quarters carried into the third, Spiller scored a 2-yard touchdown and gave the Tigers a 21-3 lead. With nine minutes left in the game, Klein Oak scored their first touchdown on a 57-yard touchdown run by running back Bennie Smith and followed it up with a fourth down stop. Seven minutes later and with less than 120 seconds left on the clock, Klein Oak drove all the way to the opposing 20-yard line but were stopped seven points short of a comeback bid.

Klein Oak quarterback C.J. Ward helped the Panthers rally against rival and district foe Klein Collins, as well as shrink the deficit in the waning moments of the first half and early in the second (File Photo by John Glaser/Texas HS Football).

Klein Oak may have shown its playoff capability despite the loss, falling to arguably one of the best UIL 6A teams in the Houston area. The defense — led Air Force commit Hanin Rakrouki, a tough, hard-nosed linebacker and Miles Oldacre, a 3-star defensive back — may have cemented itself as a powerful unit and one capable of slowing the state’s most high-octane offenses. Offensively, CJ Ward showed leadership and poise while running the Panthers’ zone-read offense.

For Klein Oak, Smith, as well as fellow all-purpose running backs Juan Urrea and Kendal Taylor, were dangerous both in the backfield and on the outside as receivers. Junior Tyler Hudson showed speed and length and may be a name to watch in his junior and senior seasons ——especiallly if the Panthers can sneak into the playoffs as a possible dark-horse to watch.

Defensively, Isaac Barron and Donavan Mutin, a University of Houston commit, led Klein Collins. Mutin had two sacks. Barron was in on seemingly every tackle.

Klein Collins will face Klein Forest High School at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 while Klein Oak (1-3, 1-1 district) will look to rebound from the loss when they face Klein High School at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at home.

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