Written by Orange and White reporter Jonathan Perez
A week removed from a win in the Border Battle against arch-rival Deer Park, the Bulldogs returned home on a gorgeous Friday evening to face an old rival, the Baytown Sterling Rangers, in what has been dubbed the “Bridge Battle”, as the two cities are linked by the Fred Hartman bridge. The Bulldogs were looking to avenge last years 27-16 defeat, and once again there was a media spotlight on this rivalry game.
The fireworks started early, as Sterling tried an onside kick on the opening kickoff, but it was recovered by La Porte. The Ranger defense stepped up and stopped La Porte, but just as he did last week, Sergio Calvillo made another great punt that put the Rangers on the 9 yard line. Soon after, the Dark Side Defense struck, as Sterling quarterback had the ball ripped out of his hand and Terrel Bernard returned the ball for a seven yard touchdown at the 9:18 mark in the 1st quarter.
However, the Rangers would retaliate quickly. A long catch and run by the Rangers would put the ball on the La Porte 9 yard line. The defense locked down on the next to plays, but on 3rd down the Rangers struck, as the receiver on the screen pass would break several tackles and score from 13 yards out, evening the score at 7 with 5:22 in the 1st quarter.
Surprisingly, the Rangers would attempt another onside kick (the second of many) but to no avail, and the Bulldog running game would go to work, methodically moving the ball down the field. Runs by Austin Upshaw, Cobra Jones, and Nathan Redd, who converted a 4th and 2, would put the Bulldogs on the goal line, and Upshaw would sneak in to put the Bulldogs up 14-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.
The second quarter would begin with La Porte forcing Sterling to punt, with Eric Kendzior leading the way. La Porte would begin their drive at their own 19. Again, the offensive line would take over as big runs by Cobra Jones and Austin Upshaw marched the Bulldogs up the field. The drive would finish at with 10:01 mark with Upshaw keeping the ball for a 19 yard touchdown, bringing the score to 21-7.
The defense would force another punt, with Kendzior getting another tackle for loss, and La Porte would take over again. The Bulldogs would take to the air more on this drive, and had a nice drive but lost a fumble at the Baytown 22 yard line.
The Dark Side defense was still angry at the first touchdown, and once again suffocated the Sterling offense. La Porte would start another drive, with nice plays made by Damian Phillips and Nathan Redd would move the Bulldogs to the goal line again, where Austin Upshaw would again sneak in for another touchdown, making it 28-7, and the route was on!
The relentless Bulldog defense would force another punt, giving La Porte another possession before the end of the half, and Nathan Redd would break ankles as he had a huge run and another great pass and catch from Upshaw to Damian Philips would bring the Bulldogs to the 8 yard line, and with time winding down in the first half Foster Hillborn hit a 22 yard field goal to bring the score to 31-7.
The second half began with fireworks as the Bulldog defense picked off a pass deep in Baytown territory, and the Bulldogs would run it in to make it 38-7. But on the ensuing kickoff the Baytown return man would take the ball 100 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 38-13 before the crowd could even settle into their seats.
The Bulldogs would stop Sterling on the two point conversion, and then Sterling would attempt another onside kick that failed as the Baytown coaching staff was flagged for a delay game, as the weren’t obeying the refs and getting out of the restricted area. La Porte would take over at the Baytown 41 yard line, but this time they would have to settle for a 39 yard field goal by Hillborn to make it 41-13 with 5:44 left in the 3rd quarter.
The two teams would trade possessions, which included the Bulldogs stopping the Rangers on 4th down. Nothing would come from the ensuing drive for La Porte, and on the next possession the Rangers would score a 37 yard touchdown on a screen pass to make it 41-19, with the Bulldog defense again holding off a two point conversion with about 10 minutes left in the game, but it was too little, too late for the Rangers. La Porte put in the second string, and the Rangers were unable to muster any more offense as the final whistle blew with the final score being 41-19, a dominant victory for the Bulldogs.
La Porte will get some much-needed rest this Friday as they have a bye week, and will return to action Oct. 16th in Port Arthur, as they play district foe, the Port Arthur Memorial Titans. Gas up your vehicles, Bulldog fans, and be ready to enjoy the sausage, boudin balls, and great La Porte football on the 16th!