The Port Arthur News
HOUSTON – It was a busted play in overtime of a game they weren’t supposed to win.
As Pearland Dawson learned, however, none of that matters to this determined Nederland football team.
Seth Barrow caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in OT as he and the Bulldogs shocked the state with a 22-19 victory over No. 1 Pearland Dawson in the regional round of the Class 4A, Division I playoffs at Reliant Stadium on Friday.
“I can’t describe it,” senior receiver Barrow said. “There were so many things running through my head with the ball in the air. I ask every game for God to give me the strength to help my team. He did today and I give all the glory to Him, and secondly to my teammates, because I couldn’t have done this without them. This was a team effort. The best team won this game today.”
Even with the game close and the Nederland offense needing to pick up yardage to avoid a third-and-long, the Bulldogs went to the air on second-and-10 in overtime. That was about the only scripted thing surrounding Barrow’s 25-yard TD catch just inside the left front pylon of the end zone.
“Going into overtime, we knew what we needed to do,” Nederland quarterback Carson Raines said. “Everyone knew we were going for 6 in overtime. It was a busted pass play to the right. I had pressure so I rolled to the left just to try to keep it going. Fortunately enough, Seth Barrow was there, saw me scrambling around and caught the pass.”
Nederland, now 12-1 and riding a 10-game winning streak, will play the winner of Angleton and Georgetown in the Region III finals next week at a site and time to be determined. The location is likely to be either Rice Stadium or Kyle Field. Georgetown and Angleton play at 2 p.m. today at Cedar Park.
Getting to the regional finals was not easy.The Bulldogs led Dawson 13-0 at halftime and were up 16-0 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter. But the Eagles soared back into the game, scoring 16 unanswered points to send the game to overtime.
That included a 75-yard pass from Dawson QB Josh Sharp to junior receiver Tony Upchurch at the end of the third and a QB sneak by Sharp for a TD with just over four minutes to play.
On Dawson’s final drive of regulation, it got the ball at its own 31 with 2:32 left on the clock. After driving down the field, Sharp ran it to the Nederland 10 on third down and, apparently confused, proceeded to spike the ball on fourth down with three seconds left.
The play was negated by a Dawson illegal shift penalty, moving the Eagles back five yards. In the NFL, that play also carries with it a 10 second clock runoff, which would have ended the game in regulation. After the penalty was assessed, Dawson’s Jacob Hood kicked a 32-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
“There are a bunch of fragmented moments at the end of the game, moments of elation and deflation,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “I’m really proud of our kids and how they kept their emotions steady. We went to overtime and our defense played well.
“Our attitude about it was that we were going to try and win it from the first play on (in overtime). Coming into this game, if we had a chance to win it, we were going for it. I’m really proud with how they hung in there with a really good football team.”
After Nederland won the toss heading into overtime and deferred, the Bulldog defense got a big stop on third-and-10 from the Nederland 12. Texas A&M commit running back James White took the ball up the middle for his 23rd carry of the night, but junior defensive tackle Caleb Malveaux knifed through the defense to stop White for a 1-yard gain.
That set up Hood’s second field goal, a 28-yarder that made it 19-16 Dawson. Two plays later, Barrow crossed the end zone and Nederland had knocked off the previously unbeaten, top ranked team in the state.
“I’d say it’s like beating anyone else, but it’s not,” Barrow said. “I love when people doubt us and we do this. I just love that. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t really think. It’s amazing.”
Nederland jumped on the board early with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. Colton Kimler caught his fourth TD pass of the season, and third of the playoffs, on a 24-yard fade pattern down the left sideline from Raines. Kimler finished with three catches for 52 yards.
Running back Kendrick Hopkins also scored a long touchdown, breaking a 32-yard run on a sprint draw and getting a huge block from fullback Brandon Dial. Hopkins had to leave the game in the third quarter after aggravating a shoulder injury he’s dealt with for much of the season. The junior had 58 rushing yards on 13 carries and now has 1,698 yards this season.
“Kendrick got his shoulder tweaked again,” Neumann said. “I hope it’s not too serious. He’s a game kid and he tried to go back in. We held him out because of his ability of his ball security, which was a little in doubt. That changed things for us. Zach (Taylor) came in and did a great job, but it changed our mental philosophy in how we were going to handle the offense.
“We didn’t have a lot of success and put the burden on our defense. Give credit to Dawson. They came back in this atmosphere and tied the game, which is what you’d expect from this kind of game.”
White finished the game with 23 carries for 95 yards, the first time he’d been held under 100 yards rushing since Week 3 against Santa Fe when he had nine carries for 85 yards. Quarterback Josh Sharp was the offensive catalyst, rushing for 92 yards on 23 carries and completing 10-of-15 passes for 176 yards.