By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Two undefeated Brazoria County teams squared off at NRG Stadium — both 13-0 on the season — with the winner advancing to the Class 5A Division I state championship game to face defending 5A state champion Highland Park who beat Denton Ryan 35-25 for the right to defend their title.
In a game that most thought was going to be whoever had the ball last to determine the winner never materialized as the Mavericks routed the Wildcats 35-10 and Manvel didn’t even score in the second half.
Manvel, winner of the 5A Region III Div. I title and Angleton, winner of the 5A Region IV Div. I championship were playing in the 5A Div. I state semifinal showdown with both teams seeking their first state championship.
For Angleton (13-1), they will have to wait another day while Manvel (4-0) seems posed, focused, and ready to challenge Highland Park at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Friday, Dec. 22 at 7:00 p.m.
“Our kids were so focused and ready, and they were chomping at the bit for this deal,” Manvel head coach Kirk Martin said. “It was a heck of a deal – they came out on fire.”
Manvel last appeared in the state title game in 2011 when they were playing in Class 4A. Unfortunately, they ran into a powerhouse in Aledo who captured their third consecutive state crown at the expense of the Mavs 49-28.
Manvel got on the scoreboard first when they marched 71-yards in seven plays capped off by a 32-yard run by senior running back Ladarius Owens who broke a tackle to the end zone giving the Mavs a 7-0 lead with 10:07 left in the opening period.
Angleton was up for the challenge as they answered with a 72-yard, eight-play drive with senior running back B.J. Foster bulling his way for a 3-yard score to knot up the game 7-7 with 7:24 left in the first quarter.
But the momentum of the game suddenly changed as Manvel amped up their game while shutting down Angleton on offense and defense.
Following the ensuing kickoff, it took only one play for the Mavs to answer the score by Angleton as Manvel set up at their own 41 when quarterback Kason Martin handed the ball to Texas A&M commit Deneric Prince who found a huge hole, shook off a would-be tackler and then raced 59-yards for the score taking only 10 seconds to do so making the score 14-7 with 7:14 left in the first frame.
The Wildcats went on a 13-play, 44-yard drive that included a fake punt conversion to keep the drive alive, but was stopped at the Manvel 22.
With :37 seconds left in the opening quarter, Martin dropped back and threw a bomb down the right sideline that was hauled in by Kam Scott who completed the 78-yard scoring play making the score 21-7 to the delight of the Manvel faithful and a shocked Angleton crowd.
“We were pounding it and pounding it, and we felt like the safeties started coming up and getting involved, and once they started getting involved, we thought we could take a shot, and we did,” coach Martin said.
The two teams traded punts in the second quarter and then Manvel went on the prowl again starting on their own 44 after a poor 14-yard punt by the Wildcats.
This time it took only two plays as Owens got loose on a 34-yard scoring dash to make the score 34-7 with 6:35 still left in the second period.
Angleton drove from their 38 to the Manvel 38. Facing 4th and 12, Manvel’s Trevion Robertson broke past his blocker and sacked the quarterback.
Manvel would add their final touchdown of the game taking over at the Angleton 38 with 1:37 left in the half. Eight plays later, senior Texas A&M commit Jalen Preston sliced across the pay station for a 4-yard scoring run giving the Mavs a 35-7 lead heading into the dressing room at intermission.
The key play in the drive was a pass completion from Martin to Scott covering 28 yards.
“I thought it was going to be nip-and-tuck there for a while, but our defense stepped up and held them to no more (touchdowns),” coach Martin said.
Manvel took their foot off the accelerator and allowed the defense take over the game limiting the Wildcats to a 32-yard field goal on their first possession of the second half making the score 35-10 with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
If Angleton was going to get back in the game in the second half, they didn’t do themselves any favors by taking 5:54 to score while only getting three-points out of a 65-yard, 12-play drive.
Manvel got strong defensive efforts from the entire unit with DePriest Taylor and Kane Mendieta coming up with second half sacks at key times while Cecori Tolds also had his sixth interception of the season in the fourth quarter to stop an Angleton drive at the Manvel 32.
Neither team found the end zone for the remainder of the game and Manvel locked up the Brazoria County crown and a trip to the 5A Division I state championship game 35-10.
“This is a dream come true,” quarterback Kason Martin said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since the first grade. I’ve been here for 12 years, and I’ve seen a lot of teams come through, but it’s special when you can win with your family and win with your dad (Manvel coach Kirk Martin).”
Martin hit 8-of-14 for 170 yards and one TD.
Prince led the ground attack with 10 carries for 126 yards and one score. Owens had eight totes for 84 yards and two TDs.
Scott led the receivers with three grabs for 113 yards and one touchdown.
Manvel had 413 total yards of offense while holding Angleton to 266 total yard including 138 on the ground.
Angleton’s top rusher for the season, B.J. Foster, was held to only 44 yards on 19 carries.
Manvel (14-0) will face defending 5A Division I champ Highland Park (15-0) at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.