East Chambers running back Dory Roberts leaps over Kountze DB Grayland Arnold before being tackled by linebacker Deontra Morgan on Friday. -Photo by Daniel Elizondo
The Kountze Lions remain alive in the playoff picture despite a heartbreaking 31-25 loss to East Chambers on Friday.
Though the Lion’s took the field and an early 7-0 lead, East Chambers was too much for Kountze, controlling the clock and possession for most of the game.
The game’s ending took a sudden change in attitude after junior quarterback Justin Harper suffered a severe head injury that lead to his transport to the hospital.
“We played a really good team,” said Head Coach Tracy Franklin after the game. “But right now, I’m concerned for Justin and his well being.”
As of Saturday, Franklin said that Harper was doing better and could eventually return to playing after several weeks off.
Kountze needs a win over Kirbyville or Anahuac to qualify for the playoffs in a spot in Dist. 10-2A-Div. I.
On Friday, Kountze looked to be in control from the onset, causing a fumble on East Chambers’ first drive of the game at the Kountze 13-yard line by senior Rowdy Teel.
In two plays, Kountze was on the scoreboard first 7-0 after an 81-yard pass from Harper to Blake Best, who outraced the East Chambers defense en route to the touchdown.
But East Chambers answered quickly on the ensuing drive going 10 plays and capping it with a 5-yard run by Slade Collins to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter.
Kountze was forced to punt on its next possession and East Chambers took advantage, driving downfield in 15 plays to cap the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Darius Guillory to give the Buccaneers a 14-7 lead.
The Lions responded with a drive of its own that needed a fourth down completion from Harper to JJ Edwards on a 12-yard pass to the Buccaneers 8-yard line. One play later, Harper rambled in on an 8-yard run for the score. The kick was blocked leaving the Buccaneers in the lead 14-13.
But East Chambers responded quickly on its next drive, scoring on one play from a 64-yard flea-flicker pass from quarterback Brandon Johnson to runningback Dory Roberts to give the Bucs a 21-13 lead.
Kountze was unable to make a first down on its ensuing possession. East Chambers marched 74 yards to cap a 9-play drive with a 24-yard field goal by Victor Lopez with no time on the clock at halftime with the Bucs leading 24-13.
In the second half, Kountze opened the third with an 8-play drive but it fizzled at the East Chambers 4-yard line after a fumble by Harper on a mishandled handoff.
East Chambers was unable to score on its next drive and was forced to punt.
Kountze responded and pulled to within five points after a 1-yard run by Grayland Arnold to cut into the lead 24-19 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, East Chambers extended its lead with a short field to work on after forcing the Lions to turn the ball over on downs.
In four plays, the Buccaneers were in the lead 31-19 after a 9-yard run by Dylan Silcox.
But Kountze would not fall, adding a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Best to put the Lions to within 31-25 with six minutes remaining in the game.
Things looked promising when Best came to the rescue again, this time intercepting East Chambers quarterback Johnson at Lions’ 38-yard line. But the Lion’s could not make a first down.
East Chambers utilized an 8-play drive to eat up the clock before turning the ball over on downs.
Ryder Lognion replaced Harper at quarterback on the final drive for Kountze, tossing two incomplete passes to end the game.
Jace Warren finished as the leading rusher for Kountze with 51 yards on nine carries. Harper finished with 47 yards on six carries and completed three of eight passes with one interception on 105 yards passing. Best finished with one catch for 81 yards and JJ Edwards finished with three catches for 51 yards.
Kountze will host Kirbyville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.