What started off as a bright, sunny day at Buddy Morehead Stadium in Conroe, Texas, ended as a dark, looming loss over the Magnolia Bulldogs in their 5A Division II Region III Area Round playoff game game versus the College Station Cougars. In what began as slow, time consuming drives for both teams turned into a fast paced, single handed offensive onslaught by College Station’s offense. The Cougars scored at least twice in three out of four quarters. That, along with a 627 yards of total offense and a pick six, propelled the Cougars to an impressive 63-25 win over Magnolia.
Magnolia received the opening kickoff, beginning at their own 25 yard line. Senior quarterback Jacob Frazier looked as spectacular as ever, threading passes through narrow windows and appearing calm in the pocket. The Bulldogs offense marched 75 yards down the field and scored nearly five minutes later on a quarterback sneak from the 2-yard line, making it 6-0 Bulldogs favor. Rather than kicking the extra point, Bulldogs head coach Sterling Doty opted to try the swinging gate and failing to convert the two point conversion.
College Station answered back two minutes later though as senior receiver Eric Peterson managed to keep his foot in bounds on a 12 yard pitch and catch from junior quarterback Marquez Perez. Next drive, Frazier threw a pick to Cougars sophomore defensive back Brandon Joseph. This led to the last score of the first quarter, this time a dump pass on a slant route to senior receiver Braden Tschirhart lead to a tackle breaking 68 yard touchdown, making it 14-6 at the end of the first.
“It’s been a next man up mentality,” said College Station head coach Steve Huff on the adversity of his squad. Perez was the backup quarterback at the beginning of the season, but rose to a starting role due to star quarterback Ty Brock’s season ending injury. Perez showed great poise and leadership throughout the season and especially in his post-season play.
Opening up the second quarter, Magnolia junior receiver Michael Woods completed what seemed to be an other worldly, Odell Beckham-like catch over a defender for a 23 yard gain. However, just moments later the momentum shifted entirely for the rest of the game.
Standing in the pocket, Frazier, pressured from both sides, stepped up and threw the ball. That throw lead to a touchdown— a defensive touchdown that is. Deflected by Cougars senior linebacker Anthony Flores, the ball landed in fellow teammate Mark Wagner’s hands. Wagner then rumbled a long 57 yards to the end-zone, avoiding tackles and barreling through Frazier en route to a pick six.
When asked if he was impressed by plays like this, College Station head coach Steve Huff said, “[Flores] deflects those all the time.”
Concluding that score, the air seemed to be sucked out of the Magnolia sideline. Huff’s Cougars were just warming up.
Following the first punt of the half, College Station senior running back Chris Monroe left defenders in the dirt as he trounced his way 71 yards down the field, setting up a 4-yard score for Perez and expanding the lead to 28-6. Magnolia answered back with a rushing score from 32 yards out. Later on, Perez scores again, this time on a 65 yard read option keeper.
Going into the second half, Magnolia showed great resiliency and was hoping to prove that the 35-6 Cougar lead wasn’t insurmountable. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, not only was the lead insurmountable, it also grew.
Not being able to score on offense every series killed whatever chance Magnolia had in the second half of the contest. The Bulldogs were forced to punt multiple times and never seemed to get great field position. This lead to two more scores in the third and another in the fourth from College Station.
Magnolia never backed down from the challenge presented to them. Michael Woods scored midway through the second on a questionable touchdown catch. Then, later on in the third quarter, Woods scored again, bringing the score to a competitive 42-25 game. Had you taken away two or three big plays from College Station and the Bulldogs need not worry about a blowout. College Station’s defense proved to be the X factor in this game as they shut out for the most part an elite offense. Frazier & Co. couldn’t account for the pressure brought all day long on the edge and from the interior.
The second half seemed to be a non-factor as Magnolia failed to score as often as it needed to in order to stay in it. The Cougars added on three touchdowns, essentially sealing the game after a 21 yard ground and pound touchdown from running back DaDa Anderson. The buzzards (literally) began to circle at this time.
Though most teams are all about themselves, a rather touching moment occurred following the game as players and coaches from both sides took extensive time to greet and salute each other for each teams’ outstanding play and grit during the game. Both Magnolia and College Station stood before each other quietly and patiently as the other’s school song played. It was quite refreshing to see such leadership and sportsmanship, even more so after a game so intense and one that turned into a blowout.
College Station (12-0) will play Port Neches-Groves in the 5A Division II Region III Semifinals next Friday at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown.