Nederland weathered sloppy field conditions, plenty of miscues by both teams, and a scoreless second half to hold off pesky Silsbee, 21-14, at Tiger Stadium on Friday night.
Silsbee killed its chances to pull the upset by losing three fumbles, including a game sealing one at Nederland’s 30 with 1:28 remaining.
Nederland pushed out to an early 14-0 lead courtesy of a 38 yard touchdown bolt by Kade Scott on the first play of its second possession and a 12-play, 65-yard scoring march on its third possession.
Josh Mazyck did most of the work on that drive, toting the ball seven times for 34 yards, but it took a costly third down facemask on Silsbee at its own 1-yard line to keep the drive alive and setup QB Blaysin Fernandez for a TD on a keeper.
Antonius Arline immediately helped Silsbee respond to the Bulldogs’ second score with a 64-yard touchdown burst on the first play from scrimmage after it.
Silsbee’s next offensive snap yielded a tying touchdown after special teams smothered Nederland deep in its own territory after a bad snap on a punt attempt. Chris Martin scored on a 6-yard touchdown run and Dralyn Taylor connected with Dillon Tarver for a game tying two-point conversion.
Nederland regained the lead before half, rolling 65 yards in just two plays. A deep connection between Bryce McMorris and Logan Nguyen set the stage for Mazyck’s 5-yard TD run to make it 21-14.
Silsbee had a potential game tying touchdown in the third quarter negated by a penalty. It penetrated the red zone but turned the ball over on downs early in the fourth quarter, before fumbling on its final possession.
Nederland’s go-ahead touchdown was made possible by beautiful throw from Bryce McMorris to Nguyen down the left sideline for 60 yards. Mazcyk’s touchdown on the next play sucked some of the momentum from Silsbee’s comeback just two minutes before halftime.
WHAT STOOD OUT
Both teams struggled in damp field conditions caused by rains earlier in the day. Numerous runners and receivers lost footing in the slick conditions and several passes wobbled out of the quarterbacks’ hands.
A few long snaps and shotgun snaps were disastrous, but none was more comical than a 34-yard loss by Nederland late in the first half on a first-and-goal play that led to a long field goal miss by the Bulldogs instead of a potential momentum swinging score.
A handful of players got hands on the ball but their inability to hang on to it just pushed the ball further from the goal line.
BY THE NUMBERS
Silsbee wrapped up a tough season opening stretch that featured games against three teams ranked in the Beaumont Enterprise top 10.
Scott led all rushers with 107 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while Arline gained 68 yards on five carries to pace Silsbee rushers.
Neither team had much success in the air, with Silsbee throwing for just 17 yards and Nederland gaining 122.
Nederland (3-0), Silsbee (0-3)
Nederland has its bye next week before beginning District 12-5A play on Sept. 28 by hosting Santa Fe. Meanwhile, Silsbee visits Bridge City on Friday night.
Daniel Maher is a freelancer