It wasn’t the best win of the El Campo Ricebirds (5-1, 2-0) season but, they traveled to Hopper Field and came out with the 35-14 win over the Brazosport Exporters (2-4, 0-2).
Penalties and some miss fortune hampered the Ricebirds throughout the night. However, for their second straight week in the fourth quarter, El Campo separated and walked away with the three score win and remained unbeaten in district play.
“I thought we came out and established ourselves early. I think our kids played hard all four quarters and, we’ve definitely got some things that we’ve got to clean up,” Ricebirds Head Coach Wayne Condra said.
Looking for a faster start to the game, following a shutout in the first half against Stafford last week, El Campo did just that at Hopper Field. After forcing a turnover on downs on the Exporters’ first possession, the Ricebirds quickly took the lead on a seven-play drive. Junior full back Johntre Davis capped off the drive with a short five-yard run for a touchdown to put El Campo up 7-0.
The Ricebirds extended their lead in the second quarter on a seven-play drive to go up two scores. During the drive, senior wide receiver Nathan Willis had a big catch from senior quarterback Cullen Braden on third and long to give El Campo a first down. Senior running back Charles Shorter bounced in from inside the one-yard line to score El Campo’s second touchdown.
The Ricebirds defense for a majority of the night kept the Exporters in check. However, a horsecollar penalty following a long run gave Brazosport some life before the end of the first half. With the ball inside El Campo’s territory and time ticking off the clock, the Exporters worked their way into the endzone on a junior Paul Woodard run making it a one-score game before the half.
El Campo’s sophomore running back Rueben Owens ll went to work in the second-half scoring three touchdowns. Two of Owens’ touchdowns came off the wild bird in the fourth quarter as El Campo pulled away from Brazosport.
In the third quarter, El Campo found themselves in a little bit of trouble. Leading 21-7, the Ricebirds went into their bag of tricks, with Halloween a few weeks away. Backed up on fourth down, they executed a fake punt with Braden hitting sophomore Reed Jung in stride for the first down. The Ricebirds would make it to the red-zone, but penalties called back two touchdowns and forced a field goal try. The Exporters blocked the field goal and ran it back for a touchdown to make 21-14.
The Ricebirds defense held the rest of the way limiting Woodard, and their pressure forced bad passes from sophomore quarterback Kariyen Goins. El Campo on the night came away with one turnover, a fumble recovery by junior Jacob Lopez. The secondary had a few chances at interceptions but couldn’t reel in the catches.
“I (our defensive line) did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. I thought we got great pressure on the quarterback and I think we did a good job in the secondary too,” Condra said.
The Ricebirds next Friday night will get the Bay City Blackcats in their annual rivalry game. The Blackcats Friday night lost to West Columbia 63-42.