Like many other teams across Southeast Texas the Bridge City Cardinals and the Kountze Lions had to wait an extra day for Friday due to a hurricane that never showed up. When they finally met Saturday night in Bridge City both teams put everything they had on the field. The Kountze offense never completed a pass, but Lion running backs put up 360 yards on the ground in the 28-26 win over the Cardinals. 262 of those yards came in the first half as the 1-1 Cardinals gave up only 98 yards in the second half, after allowing Kountze to take a 28-6 lead in the first half. The Cardinals made some defensive adjustments and came out fighting in the second half, but ran out of time as Lions ate of the last 4 minutes running up the middle.

The Kountze offense used up 5:39 of the first quarter with their opening drive that ended in a touchdown and 2 point conversion. Junior Dakota Risinger had three tackles in the first quarter, Seniors Scott Romero and Cody Eldridge had 2 each. Flag happy officials called 9 penalties in the first 12 minutes of play. Before the night was over Bridge City would give up 75 yards to penalties and the Lions would sacrifice 60. “We had some stupid penalties in the first half,” Stump said. “It seemed like every time we would get something going, it would get called back. We have to correct all that.”

Early in the second quarter the Cards scored as Running back Joe Robertson bolted 6 yards into the end zone. The missed point after kick left the score at Kountze 8-BC 6. A 10 yard kick off return by the Lions and two 36 yard runs later, the score jump to 14-6. The Cardinals answering drive began with an exciting 41 yard return by Senior Jerry Landry. The Cards went for and got a 4th and 1 conversions, but a false start penalty and a bad snap ended the drive with no score. The Lions recovered the fumble and took over on the Cardinal 48 yard line and again scored on a 22 yard run around the end. The Cardinals now faced a 22-6 deficit. The Lion kickoff was short and covered by Junoir Defensive End Thomas Taylor give the Cards good field position to begin their next drive, which ended with a Blake Hubbard punt. The Lions ended the half by scoring again but not before Jerry Landry would chase down the Kountze running back and Grant Encalade would intercept the PAT attempt. As the sun set on Larry Ward Stadium and the first half of the game, the Cardinals went into the locker room down 28-6.

Thoughts of last years season had to be running through the players minds at the half. Offensive Coordinator Josh Smalley was overheard requesting “persistence, no penalties, and some blocking backs” in response to a sales pitch by one of the vendors in the stands as he made his way back to the locker room at the half. It was definitely not last years team that returned to the field in the third quarter.

The Cardinals were forced to punt after their first drive of the second half. Hubbard’s 47 yard kick was downed at the 1 yard line by Zach Heinze. The Cardinals scored on the next drive that started after Colton Gereau picked up a fumble forced by Cardinals’ defensive back Cody Eldridge. Lemoine found Cory Moseley on the fourth play of the drive for 15 yards bringing the Cardinals down to the Lions 9-yard line. Lemoine covered the last 9 yards himself and a Devin Bertrand PAT made it 28-13 with 4:19 left in the third. The Cardinals did a nice job keeping the Lions off the scoreboard the rest of the way and picked up another touchdown with 8:19 left. Cards defense force the Lions to punt and after a sac and a 8 yard scramble Junior Quarterback Josh Lemoine found Robertson open and he did the rest with a 52 yard run for 6 points. The failed two point PTA that appeared successful left the score at 28-20.

The Cards kick off  was returned to the 25 and the Lions ate up some time by converting 3 first downs before the Cardinal defense separated the runner from the ball and came up with the ball. On the first down Lemoine found Landry for a 52 yard touchdown pass that looked like a miracle catch. With 4:38 left to go the score was 28-26.

The only problem was the Cardinals could then not get the Lions off the field as Kountze was able to take the rest of the time off the clock with their rushing attack.

“Both the coaches and players did a great job in the second half making adjustments,” Stump said. “We just never showed up in that first half.”

These non-district games are played to fine tune and give the players some experience in preparation for district play. While the loss was surely tough to take, the Cardinals proved to them selves and their fans that they have what it takes to come from behind. It looks as though Coach Smalley’s half time order got filled….. persistence, no penalties, and some blocking backs.

Hurricane Ike is looming on the horizon and may play havoc with this weeks scheduled game with the LCM Bears who are coming off of a hard defeat at the hands of the WOS Mustangs. The Cardinals are at home again this week so come out and support them.