High School Staff
Jr. High Staff
Athletic Hall of Fame
The "Bell" Stays In Splendora
October 29, 2013Splendora High School
SPLENDORA, TX - The 2013 version of "The Battle of the Bell" was exactly that. An epic battle. What a football game. A great crowd, beautiful weather, homecoming, bragging rights, the coveted cow "bell" trophy, and two teams who refused to lose. Something had to give, or did it?
With fourth down and goal to go and "The team from the Northeast's" football at the Splendora 8 yard line, in trots in the field goal team. The Wildcats front digs in. The secondary is in man coverage. Splendora holds a 1 point lead with 20 ticks left in the contest. Here we go.
The snap flutters, knuckling through the hands of the Longhorn holder, ala Tony Romo. There is madness pursuing the football. The pigskin pops up into the arms of the kicker, who is being pursued by no less than 5 Splendora Wildcat defenders. Scrambling to his right, he floats a pass towards an open receiver. The home crowd holds its collective breath as the visitors try to scream their team to the final second win. The ball is caught (by the Longhorn's deep snapper of all players). Wildcat defenders converge. Smoked by LBer Jesse Paschal and DT Stevie Reneau...2 yards short. The Wildcats were not letting this one slip away. Not tonight. Defense holds. Splendora beats "The Town from The Northeast", 35 - 34.
From the opening kickoff until the final kneel down by the Wildcat's QB Ty Nixon, this game had a little bit of everything...except turnovers. Splendora got on the scoreboard first. Wildcat running back Jay Bradford set up the TD on a brilliant 70 yard cutback run, placing the ball inside the Longhorn 10 yard line. Fullback Stacy Reneau would bull his way in from 2 yards out behind offensive lineman Nicholas Falls and Splendora led, 6-0.
With 3:08 left in the opening quarter, Bradford would find the end zone, dashing in from 15 yards behind good line blocking of Lucas Plate and Justin Aldridge. Bradford would get his number called again on the 2 pt conversion and the Wildcats stampeded their way to a quick 14-0 lead.
The route was on. Not so fast. Tarkington's Hunter Johnson (QB), would find paydirt from the 10 yard line. The PAT was good, closing Splendora's lead to 14-7 at the 9:25 mark of the 2nd quarter. After a 30 yard Toby Clark punt, Tarkington would score quickly as Johnson hooked up with 6'5" Wideout Alex Johnson on a fade route in the corner of the end zone. The kick was good and the score was knotted at 14 tight.
The two teams were trading some big licks until Bradford, behind Center Mateo Sloan, broke loose for his second TD of the night from 13 yards out, much to the delight of the raucus homecoming faithful. Splendora's placekicker, Gabe Luna (who is perfect on the year on extra point attempts), booted the PAT and the Wildcats trotted into intermission ahead, 21-14.
Returning to the field after a festive halftime peformance by the Splendora Wildcat Band, Dancers and King & Queen Homecoming Courts, the Wildcats first possession ended with no points. Tarkington scatback, Larame Nash (198 rushing yards on the night) zipped his way in from 2 yards out, pulling the 'Horns within 1 at 21-20. The point after kick was botched, foreshadowing the last 20 seconds of this wild football game.
Merely 26 seconds later, Bradford cut and crusied his way to a 64 yard jaunt, getting a nice block from Nick Falls, for his 3rd TD of the night and after Luna's golden instep, Splendora led 28-20. Tempers began to flare briefly as Tarkington drove down the field. After a facemask penalty gave the 'Horns a first down, quarterback Johnson again found Latham for a 13 yard TD toss and catch, as Tarkington closed the gap to 2. The try for 2 pts was unsuccessful as the Wildcat D rose to the occassion, stopping the Longhorns short. Splendora was penalized 3 times for 25 yards and Tarkington was flagged 6 times for 40 yards on the evening.
Having led the entire game, the Wildcat's fortunes turned briefly. After scoring drives of 66, 62, 56 and 64 yards, the Wildcats found themselves getting stopped on downs. The Longhorns strung together an impressive drive of their own, twice converting on 4th down to keep the drive alive. Johnson scored with 11:37 left in the 4th, and after a successful PAT, led for the first time, 34-28.
With 6:54 left in the ball game, enter Linebacker, Michael Moore, to the backfield. Moore caught a screen pass from Nixon, broke an initial tackle at the LOS, then straight-armed a would-be 'Horn tackler and simply willed his way in the end zone from 42 yards out, dragging 2 Tarkington secondary men with him 7 yards in the process. As the Wildcat sideline was in celebration mode, Luna, who was as cool as a Sonic Blast, drilled the extra point far into the night sky, to give the Splendora Widcats the win, 35-34 and retention of the "Bell".
Offensively, Splendora ran 40 plays for 326 yards. Tarkington ran 70 plays for 436 yards. Tarkington held a 2-1 time of possesion advantage. Splendora's special teams simple executed better to secure the victory. Splendora's Junior running back, Jay Bradford, led all rushers with 239 yards on 19 carries and 3 scores. Bradford, a Texas A&M commit, has now rushed for 1,316 yards, averaging nearly 8 yards per carry.
Tarkington's Larame Nash had 198 yards on 30 carries and Hunter Johnson had 20 runs for 149 yards. Quarterback Ty Nixon was 4-7 for 72 yards and a TD, while the Longhorn's Johnson completed 9 of 16 passes for 83 yards and 2 TDs. Lane Bennett, Clark and Reneau snagged balls for Splendora.
Despite the 69 points registerd in the game, there were several big hits on defense. Leading Splendora on defense was one of Splendora's offensive heroes, Michael Moore, with 16 tackles. Caleb Ray had 15 stops, while LBer Jesse Paschal had 13 tackles. Middle Linebacker Tyler Whitmire contributed with a huge stop and finished with 14 tackles. Austin "Moonlight" Graham had 7 tackles and Kevin Addison, Bradford, Stevie Reneau and Clark combined for 29.
The big stick of the night went to Lucas Plate. The sophmore DT crushed Tarkington's Larame on a fourth and short, to help pave the way for Moore's dramatic catch and run.
After an open week, the Wildcats travel to Huffman for the final game of the season.