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Foster, Marshall, East Bernard return to elite eight

December 3, 2018

The Foster, Marshall and East Bernard football teams all advanced to the regional final in their respective UIL playoff brackets.

All three continue to rank among the best programs in the state in recent years, returning to the state quarterfinals.

Foster defeated Hutto 41-31 to advance to the Class 5A Division I Region III final. The Falcons are playing in their third consecutive regional championship game.

Marshall thumped Port Neches-Groves 53-14 to remain undefeated and reach its third straight Class 5A Division II Region III final and fourth in seven years. The Buffalos seek their first trip to the state semifinals.

East Bernard stifled Blanco 27-7 to advance to the Class 3A Division II Region IV final against district foe Tidehaven. The Brahmas won their state championship in 2012 and also played for the regional title in 2013 and 2015.

Foster (9-4) earned a district rematch of its own, taking on 10-5A DI champion Shadow Creek (13-0). The Sharks have defeated Porter 37-30, Cedar Park 21-14 and Georgetown 36-7 in the playoffs.

Only one team has played the Sharks closer than seven points this season. That would be Foster, which narrowly missed an upset bid 35-34.

It is part of the argument the Falcons are better than their 6-4 regular season mark suggests. They have supported that in the playoffs, using a late touchdown to upend Port Arthur Memorial 20-19 and holding off Manor 42-28 in the area playoffs.

“Your record says you are who you are — but if you look at who we played, we lost all top ten teams,” McDowell said. “We were very close to being way better with our record and I know that with this young team we have literally gotten better every week.”

Ryan Stubblefield completed 17 of 32 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against Hutto. Shadeed Ahmed hauled in 11 of those for 114 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Cody Jackson had two of the biggest catches, tying the game at 17 in the third quarter and opening the fourth with a 59-yard catch that put Foster ahead 27-17.

Mario Simmons had a game-high 124 yards on the ground, including a 67-yard touchdown. Isaac Johnson scored the clincher with 1:19 remaining. Bryson Harrell converted field goals of 24 and 34 yards.

Foster reached the state semifinal in 2016, defeating Dripping Springs 51-28 for the regional crown before a 31-24 loss to Temple to end a school-record 14-1 campaign. The Falcons returned to the fourth round last year, falling 41-10 to Angleton.

Foster plays Shadow Creek on Dec. 8 at TDECU Stadium.

Marshall (13-0) seeks its first state semifinal appearance despite being a regional power. The Buffalos have come tantalizingly close in recent years, falling 26-20 to Manor in 2012 and to College Station the last two years by 31-27 and 49-47 margins.

“The guys are hungry,” Marshall coach James Williams said. “They’ve stayed patient, and worked to get better every week. We knew we had to get better throughout the season, it’s finally here now, and we’re going to do our best to have a great week of practice.”

Marshall takes on District 10-5A DII champion Huntsville (12-1) at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 7 at Berry Center. The Hornets have defeated Nacogdoches 57-7, Manvel 34-10 and Marshall 35-34 in the playoffs.

The Buffalos have dominated much of the season, outscoring opponents 672-193. They defeated Santa Fe 53-15 and A&M Consolidated 49-31 for the area championship, setting up their regional rout of PNG.

Marshall led 39-0 at one point, with Devon Achane and Jerry Davis scoring twice and Dalevon Campbell and Malik Hornsby adding touchdowns. Davis and Hornsby scored again after halftime.

East Bernard (12-1) made its annual trip to the third round and stifled Blanco 27-7. The Brahmas defeated Johnson City 57-12 and Hebbronville 51-0 for the area crown.

They scored 21 second-quarter points to overcome an early Blanco touchdown, led by Kobe Brown, who finished with a game-high 124 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Hunter Goudeau scored just before halftime and Ryan Morse put the game away with fourth-quarter field goals.

East Bernard looks to continue a remarkable defensive season that includes 10 games allowing 14 points or less, four being shutouts.

The Brahmas meet Tidehaven (7-6) at 7 p.m., Dec. 7 at Freedom Field in Alvin. They earned a 24-14 win during the regular season against the Tigers, which have defeated Ingram Moore 41-16, Odem 28-12 and Van Vleck 17-0 in the playoffs, the last avenging a district loss.

Correspondents William Hatfield and Jason McDaniel contributed to this report.

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