LUFKIN – Well – that escalated quickly.
In a performance reminiscent of some of the best teams to represent Kilgore High School on a football field, the Kilgore Bulldogs shredded Little Cypress-Mauriceville, 49-0, on Thursday night at Abe Martin Stadium here in Lufkin in the first round of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 4A, Division I playoffs. And Kilgore jumped out to a 21-0 lead with almost no time of possession.
Since a turnover-filled upset loss at Center two weeks ago, Kilgore – now 8-3 this season – has outscored its opponents 105-6 in the last six quarters and hasn’t turned the ball over once. In fact, Kilgore tailback Briant Mumphrey has outscored Kilgore’s last two opponents himself –he had another big game against LC-M, rushing for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries Thursday night.
Coach Mike Wood’s Ragin’ Red has advanced to round two, or the area round, of the 4A, DI postseason. And the matchup is set. They’ll take on a familiar opponent, El Campo, next Friday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. at Waco ISD Stadium. Tickets will be on sale in the KISD athletic office Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2. Adults are $7 each; students are $5. All tickets at the gate will be $8.
LC-M’s Battlin’ Bears were 4-4 coming into the contest with Kilgore on Thursday – and actually did some good things, offensively, in the first half, trying to keep the ball away from KHS quarterback Patrick “Buddy” Jackson and the Bulldogs’ strong running game.
LC-M and Kilgore traded possessions early, but a mistake by the Bears – a poor snap on a punt – allowed Kilgore to take the ball at LC-M’s 16-yard-line for its second offensive possession. And Kilgore wasted no time. Mumphrey scored on the drive’s very first, and only, play, a 16-yard run. Elivan Torres booted through the extra point and put Kilgore in front (for good as it turned out) 7-0. Torres went 7-of-7 in extra points in the game, and is 15-of-15 in his last two games.
The Bears, led by quarterback Ethan McCollum, were able to string together a few very long drives in the game, but just could not avoid critical mistakes, of which Kilgore was able to take advantage. The Bears’ second drive extended all the way to Kilgore’s 20, but ended on a turnover on downs when McCollum couldn’t connect with a receiver on fourth down and 14.
Kilgore, who only had the ball about three minutes of total clock time in the first half, made the Bears pay immediately – Mumphrey reeled off a 52-yard run to LC-M’s 2-yard-line, and scored on the next play, doubling Kilgore’s lead to 14-0.
Cypress began its third drive at its own 17, and kept it going for 16 plays, including a fourth-and-3 at Kilgore’s 29. But a fumble by McCollum killed it – and led to yet another Kilgore score. Kilgore took over at its own 21, kept it primarily on the ground, and then Jackson hit Mumphrey for a 21-yard gain to LC-M’s 13. A pass to Jonathan Shepherd followed, that picked up 10 yards, and then Kilgore’s offense surprised everyone with a pass from Jackson to Deundre Blanton for the 3-yard touchdown. Blanton, normally a defensive lineman, lined up at fullback and hauled the pass in easily, giving Kilgore a 21-0 lead that it took into the second half.
The Ragin’ Red picked up right where it left off, with the offensive line, Jackson, Mumphrey and another running back, Ja’Vorie Hamilton, marching right down the field. This time it was all on the ground, and Hamilton did the honors, scoring from 3 yards out for a 28-0 KHS advantage.
LC-M’s next miscue was a drive-killing fumble at Kilgore’s 1-yard-line, a ball that popped up out of McCollum’s arms and into the waiting hands of KHS linebacker Isaiah Smith, firmly back in the lineup after missing some time due to injuries. Smith was tackled immediately, but Kilgore kept the shutout in place, and then put together another drive, a 98-yarder in eight plays that was finished on another 3-yard run by Hamilton (aided by a personal foul call on LC-M).
Kilgore would score twice more: a 68-yard pick-six (interception returned for a touchdown) by Sebastian Mumphrey, and a 3-yard run by Triston Shaffer with just 55 seconds left. Mixed in was a nice punt return by Nesba Brown that would allow Kilgore to run off the majority of the clock, and then led to Shaffer’s score.
In addition to Mumphrey, Hamilton had the two scores and 20 yards rushing; Jackson had 88 yards on five carries; and Deiontrae Wheat and Greg Isaacs each had a carry. McCollum went 11-of-20 for 100 yards, and the interception to Sebastian Mumphrey.
And now, next week, another Kilgore-El Campo game.
El Campo’s Ricebirds ended Kilgore’s season back in 2015, at New Caney, 35-23.
Kilgore and El Campo have met on the turf at Waco ISD one time before: back in 2004, in the third round of the 4A playoffs. On a sunny but tremendously windy day, the very powerful Bulldogs shut out the Ricebirds, 18-0. Kilgore, of course, went undefeated that year, 16-0, and claimed the 4A DII state title.
Read a preview of KHS-El Campo’s latest playoff meeting on Wednesday in News Herald special-section Game Time Weekly, a part of the print edition, and also available online at kilgorenewsherald.com, at the bottom of the home page.