Katy Taylor exploded for 60 points and overpowered Ft. Bend Kempner in a 60-42 ground and pound showdown Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium. It was the Mustangs seventh consecutive victory and their first playoff win since 2014.
Both teams put up monster rushing yards just as they have been all year long. It was simply a matter of which rushing attack could further exploit the opposing defenses’ struggles against the run.
District 19-6A’s leading rusher and Mustangs running back Ean Beek could not have picked a better time to have one of his best performances of the season. The anchor of the Mustangs backfield ran with purpose, averaging a dominant 11 yards per attempt against the Cougars. Beek lashed for 284 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns on his way 2,134 yards for the season. Katy Taylor head coach Trey Herrmann marveled at what his running back has been able to accomplish for his offense.
“He has big play ability and he makes key first downs” Coach Herrmann said of Beek’s contributions. “I think the offense is gelling very well right now and I hope he gets to 3,000.”
Cougars running back Billy Reagins Jr. shares similar big play ability as he was also the preeminent rusher in his district. Reagins ran for 108 yards and one touchdown on Saturday, but it wasn’t quite enough to hang in punch-for-punch with an unstoppable Katy Taylor ground assault. Correspondingly, Kempner was forced to throw an uncharacteristic amount of passes to keep the game within reach. Heading into Saturday’s game, Cougars quarter back Alec Carr was averaging just over 85 yards a game. But with Kempner playing from behind for most of the game, Carr had to shake off the rust and air it out for 128 yards and one touchdown. Catching Carr’s touchdown pass was his favorite target Jacob Landry. The Cougars wide receiver caught three of Carr’s five total completions for 64 yards.
Katy Taylor controlled all three phases of the game in the first half, but Kempner special teams’ blunders exacerbated the apparent mismatch. A blocked field goal kept the Cougars off the board in the first quarter, and a woeful zero-yard pooch punt put the Mustangs in position for their first touchdown. As anticipated, Katy Taylor relied on the run game to establish an early lead. 258 yards pounded on the ground lead to 39 first half points for the Mustangs.
Despite being shutout in the opening frame, Kempner was able to cut Katy Taylor’s lead to nine with 31 seconds remaining in the first half. At the expense of the Cougars budding momentum, however; the Mustangs added 14 quick points in the span of 11 seconds to close out the half.
One of the two late second quarter scores saw Ean Beek eclipse the 2,000-yard season rushing mark in emphatic fashion. Beek broke free for 74 yards and a touchdown on a “Statue of Liberty” play that no one on the Kempner defense saw coming. Special teams’ miscues continued for the Cougars on the ensuing kickoff. Either unawareness or indifference on the part of the return team allowed the Mustangs to recover what was essentially an extended onside kick at the Cougars 27-yard line. A 21-yard touchdown pass from David Perkins to wide receiver Robert Shelton extended the Mustangs lead and sunk the Cougars into a 39-16 hole at intermission.
Special teams, which had been the Achilles heel for Kempner in the first half, took a favorable turn for the Cougars in the second half. In fact, 14 straight Kempner points scored at the end of third quarter were the result of improved special teams play. A blocked punt by linebacker Jacob Mangum-Farrar gave the Cougars the ball on the Mustangs one-yard line and provided for a Reagins one-yard touchdown burst. Following the score, linebacker Desmond Hall recovered an onside kick and got the ball back to his grooving offense. Facing a 3rd & 1 on the consequent drive, Kempner quarter back Alec Carr snuck his was up the middle for a not-so-subtle 27-yard touchdown run. A Reagins two-point-conversion brought Kempner’s total to 36, but the Cougars deficit was only reduced to 17. It was strong showing for the Kempner offense, but their porous defense was incapable of stopping the run and unable to keep the Cougars season alive.
Katy Taylor improves to 9-2 and advances to the Area Round for just the fifth time in its history to face the 9-2 Cy-Ridge Rams. Katy Taylor head coach Trey Herrmann already has an idea of what to expect from his next opponent.
“I got to watch them last night (Friday)” Herrmann said of the Rams. “They’re a good football team; another up-tempo offense. They have a phenomenal tailback and his little brother does a great job out of the slot. I think the quarterback is a playmaker and they got a talented receiver on the edge. A big offensive and defensive line; we’ll have our hands full.”
The Mustangs and Rams will face off Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m. at Waller Stadium.