(Article and Photos courtesy of Deer Park Broadcaster, used with permission)
La Porte defeats Deer Park in 55th Border Battle 27-24
By Robert Avery
Cobra Jones used touchdown runs of 79 and 71 yards to spark La Porte High School to a 27-24 District 21-6A victory over rival Deer Park in the 55th Border Battle at Clyde Abshier Stadium Friday night.
Deer Park tried to consume a 17-point deficit over the final 10 minutes, scoring two touchdowns with the help of a suddenly resurgent passing attack but the Deer ran out of time and timeouts, enabling the Bulldogs to lead from start to finish in the 55th meeting between the two.
La Porte upped its lead in the series to 29-25-1.
A new twist was added to Friday’s game. The Great American Rivalry Series, now in its 12th year of highlighting rivalries across the country, spotlighted the game as one of its 100 rivalries nationwide for the 2015 high school football season.
Afterwards, Jones was presented a game MVP trophy and La Porte was presented the Great American Rivalry Series Champions Trophy, presented by members of the Marines.
Had Deer Park won, Sammy Linton was set to receive the MVP trophy. He finished with 260 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 191 yards on 18 carries and a TD, while accumulating 69 yards in the air.
“We were trying to get the ball down the field as fast as we can. We got down there and we scored but it just got away from us at the end. I’m proud of the team. They left everything on the field,” Linton said.
“We had some explosive runs. I wish we could have been a little more consistent though Deer Park’s front four is tough, good interior people,” La Porte head coach Jeff LaReau said.
“Jacob Edwards, that’s my lead blocker. I followed him. That’s how I got the two touchdowns,” Jones said.
“The kicking game, they hurt us bad. Three punts where they got us down inside the five. We had some chances offensively,” Deer Park head coach Chris Massey said.
But those big plays continue to hound Deer Park’s defense. And they’re just coming at the worst times. Moments after Deer Park’s Kolby Lena and quarterback Cameron Thompson connected for a slant route that went for 67 yards and six points, reducing the deficit to 13-10, two plays later, the deficit was back to 10.
Jones motored 71 yards for the score and with 9:37 left in the third quarter, Deer Park was back to a double-digit deficit. Two La Porte possessions later, it grew to 27-10 when quarterback Austin Upshaw hit Hunter Hebert with a 23-yard TD pass.
But Deer Park’s defense got very stingy over La Porte’s next two possessions, paving the way for a short TD pass from Cameron Thompson to Logan Berryhill with 6:29 remaining in the game.
Then when La Porte failed to covert on a fourth and two call from the Deer 35, Deer Park went the distance in seven plays. After using its last timeout before La Porte’s fourth-down gamble, the Deer was forced to find its yardage via the air game.
They found it, 67 yards worth and a delivery to the Red zone where Sammy Linton scored from two yards out, getting the team within three again with 3:02 to play.
Deer Park will also need to work on its onside kick attempts, because a convenient one-hopper enabled Nathan Redd to easily haul in the attempt, putting the brakes on Deer Park’s rally for good. It was the second time Redd got his hands on an onside kick.
After Jones’ 79 yarder, Deer Park had little trouble going from its 19 to the 10 of La Porte where it had to settle on a 27-yard field goal.
La Porte’s Foster Hilburn answered back with first-half field goals of 36 and 42 yards, upping the La Porte lead to 13-3.