The Mustang defense stifles LC-M’s J’Lon Douglas in the first half. WO-S limited the Bears to five first downs and 136 yards rushing. RECORD PHOTO: Meri Elen Jacobs

Meri Elen Jacobs – For The Record

After a hard fought cross town rival game between the WO-S Mustangs and the LC-M Bears, the coveted Orange Bowl trophy will again make its home in the trophy case in the front hall at West Orange-Stark High School. In the first game of the season for both teams, the Mustangs came away with the win, 26-13.

“Well, we won,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “We had a lot of players on offense and defense that are inexperienced at the varsity level. We didn’t cash in on some of the opportunities we had in the first half but we came out in the second half and kicked off and then forced them to punt right away and we got after them. Teams improve the most between the first and second game of the season and we are hoping that happens.”

Quarterback Jack Dallas, who was the only returning starter on offense, started the game off dazzling the crowd with the pass, before handing off to running back Keion Hancock for the first touchdown of the night. Ryan Baham-Heisser’s extra point attempt was good and the Mustangs led, 7-0.

LC-M’s Chris Winter earned the Bears’ first first down on a handoff from quarterback Beau Bickham for 17 yards but four plays later, the chain gang defense forced them to punt.

“We are still looking at the defense, making sure we have the right guys on the field,” Thompson said. “Steven Tims played well, and Jalen Powdrill. Our defensive ends Keyshawn Holman and Ronald Carter played hard.”

The Mustangs hit the end zone again at the end of the first quarter on a Dallas pass to Hancock from 26 yards out. Baham-Heissers PAT was again good, and the Mustangs were up 14-0.

LC-M scored right before the half to put themselves back in the game, 14-7. However, the Mustangs forced the Bears to punt after kicking off to them to start the half and were able to move the ball down the field to score, with most of the yards coming off of the legs of Malech Edwards, who carried the ball six times for 55 yards on the drive. KJ Miller caught a Dallas pass from one yard out for the touchdown. The PAT, this time by Hancock, was no good.

The Bears didn’t play around, scoring on their next possession on fourth and one from the 1 yard line, as Bickham was able to bulldoze his way into the end zone. WO-S answered back in fine fashion on their next drive with a Dallas to Miller 17 yard pass for the score. Dallas finished the night completing 18 of 25 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Hancock was the leading receiver with six catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our offensive line played better than we thought they would. It takes time for them to come together. They are a team within a team,” Thompson said. “Ryan (Ragsdale) and Te’Ron (Brown) both played well and Malech Edwards had a good night running. He was able to hit the line with zip.”

The kicking game is a concern for this week and Thompson said that they will continue to work on it every day in practice.

“The level of difficulty goes up this week as we travel to Port Neches-Groves,” Thompson said. “It will be a play-off type atmosphere with the turf field and the crowd that they have. We’ll find out how well we handle pressure this week because not everyone handles it the same.”

The Mustangs will face the Indians, who beat Clear Lake, 52-0, in week one. The Indians have given the Mustangs fits the last two years, with PN-G winning in 2013, 37-34, and WO-S winning in overtime last year, 33-27. Quarterback Adam Morse is a familiar face with 6’2-6’3 targets to throw to in junior Keynel McZeal and senior Jack Giblin.

Tickets will be on sale in the athletic office Thursday, Sept. 3 – 9am-12 and 1-3pm and Friday, Sept. 4-9am-12 only. Ticket prices are $6 for Adults and $3 for students. All tickets at the gates are $6. Game time is 7pm and the Gates open at 5:30pm. To get to The Reservation, take Hwy 87 thru Bridge City to Port Arthur. Take the Hwy 366 exit and make a right onto Hwy 366. Stay on Hwy 366 to Merriman Street where you will take a right and follow to the stadium.

The freshman and junior varsity teams beat the LC-M Bears. The freshman won, 22-8 and JV won 24-0. Both teams will play PN-G at home Thursday, beginning at 5pm.

Join the Mustangs in the “Blue Out” on Friday and wear Mustang Blue to the game!