Mustangs hold on to the Orange Bowl
Last updated 9/5/2023 at 7:23pm
The Orange Bowl will stay where it is. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs won decisively on Friday night 33-6 over the Little Cypress Mauriceville Bears to retain possession of the Orange Bowl.
The Mustangs, 2-0, took an early lead and only expanded it as the game progressed against their crosstown rivals from Orange. The Bears dropped to 1-1 on their season after the loss.
West Orange-Stark received the opening kickoff and drove 71 yards in ten plays to score the first points of the game. The Mustangs spread the ball around with four different players gaining yardage either through the air or on the ground.
Quarterback Marcus Turner completed his first two passes to Nicholas Crosson and to Tahj Amerson to move the ball to midfield.
Jalen Gilmore ran for another first down followed by a third first down by Amerson on a five-yard carry. A holding penalty against the Mustangs pushed them back, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Bears after a run by Gilmore setup a first and ten at the Bears' 11.
Gilmore scored on the next play with a run. Alfonso Balderas kicked the point after for a 7-0 Mustang advantage 4:18 into the game.
The Bears picked up a first down on their first possession but then lost a fumble recovered by Amerson of the Mustangs at the fifty. It would take West Orange-Stark six plays to capitalize on the turnover.
Turner connected with Jamarr O'Neal for 15 yards on the first play. Key'shawn Robinson cut loose for 15 yards and a first down at the Bears' 18.
Amerson carried twice gaining 12 yards for a first and goal at the six. From the Wildcat formation Amerson took a direct snap and ran the ball into the end zone to increase the Mustang lead to 14-0 with 2:44 left in the first quarter.
Their second possession the Bears began to move the ball. Little Cypress Mauriceville quarterback Dylan Payne picked up seven yards on first down and then passed 25 yards to Keagan Cockerham for a first down to the Mustangs' 39. A penalty could have stymied the Bears until Payne passed 15 yards to Braydon Guillory for a first down at the WOS 26.
Payne ran the ball to the 21 on first down and then on second down found a wide open Jonah Fuller out of the back field with a pass for the touchdown. The Bears went for two but Payne was stopped short trying to run for it which kept the score 14-6 with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter.
West Orange-Stark scored on its third straight possession following the kickoff. The Mustangs went 81 yards in nine plays to score again.
Runs by Turner and Gilmore netted 26 yards and a first down at the WOS 45. Turner found Crosson with a pass for 15 yards to move the ball into Bear territory with another first down.
Freshman Khelvy Jefferson ran for two more first downs taking the ball to the Bears' 13. Turner got the Mustangs three yard closer with a short run and then a Bears' penalty moved the ball to the five.
West Orange-Stark went back to the Wildcat as Amerson carried for two yards to setup a first and goal before scoring on the next play from the three. Balderas was successful for the third time with his kick to make the score 21-6 with five minutes left in the half.
There was no further scoring in the first half. The teams went to their locker rooms with the Mustangs leading 21-6.
The Bears received the second half kickoff and began a good looking drive. Payne completed a first down pass to Cockerham, and Fuller gained a first down on the ground just inside Mustang territory.
Unfortunately, for Little Cypress Mauriceville for the second time in its last three possessions a snap from the shotgun went over the head of Payne resulting in a big loss. The Bears recovered the ball both times but the first time late in the first half it cost them 22 yards while the fumble early in the third quarter lost 17 yards and spoiled a very promising opportunity as the Bears were forced to punt from their 47.
A further exchange of punts had the Mustangs put up shop at their 23 yard line. On the first play Amerson broke a tackle and then sped away from all Bear pursers going 77 yards for the touchdown. The point after was missed to keep the score 27-7 in favor of West Orange-Stark with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter.
The only takeaway of the game by the Bears' defense occurred late in the third quarter. Luke McDow recovered a Mustang fumble at the WOS 48.
Fuller ran for a first down to the 38. A major penalty called on the Mustangs moved the ball to a first down for the Bears on the 22 of West Orange-Stark.
Runs by Payne and J'Lynn Morris netted three yards. Payne passed to Kaden Boatman for 4 yards setting up fourth and three at the fifteen.
Payne kept the ball on a quarterback option play but was hit in the backfield. The play lost a yard and turned the ball over to the Mustangs.
West Orange-Stark then put a little icing on the victory cake running almost six minutes off the clock and driving 84 yards for a final touchdown. Once again it was the Wildcat Tahj Amerson who got the points with a 13-yard run. The missed kick was insignificant as the Mustangs won 33-6 to capture the Orange Bowl.
Tahj Amerson scored four touchdowns in the game and rushed for 137 yards on 11 carries for West Orange-Stark. Marcus Turner had another balanced game as the Mustang quarterback running for 51 yards and passing for 79 yards completing 5 of 11 passes.
The Bears' Dylan Payne threw 18 passes completing 11 for 141 yards. Jonah Fuller was the leading ground gainer for the Bears with 45 yards on 11 carries.
The West Orange-Stark Mustangs take their two game winning streak to Port Neches-Groves next week. The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears play another rivalry game against the Bridge City Cardinals at home in Battlin' Bear Stadium.