Cardinals lose district opener
Last updated 9/25/2023 at 2:33pm
The district schedule started Friday night in Bridge City. The Cardinals fell to the state ranked Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns 42-7 at Larry Ward Stadium.
The loss was the third straight for Bridge City (2-3, 0-1) after winning its first two games this season. Hamshire-Fannett (5-0, 1-0) remains unbeaten and should continue to be state ranked after the convincing victory by the Longhorns.
The underdog Cardinals came out much better in the first quarter than they did last week against the powerful Lumberton Raiders when fell behind early. Bridge City scored the first points of the game on Friday and stayed close to Hamshire-Fannett throughout the first half.
The Longhorns received the opening kickoff and quickly moved to a first down at the Bridge City 13 on two good runs and two pass completions from quarterback Ty Bryson to Braxton Starnes. The Cardinals' Rayburn Hebert made a huge sack on Bryson that setup a fourth-and-17 which Hamshire-Fannett could not convert.
Taking over at its 20 Bridge City had its longest drive of the night. The Cardinals converted three first downs on passes from Hutch Bearden to Jerris Brown for 36 yards, as well as two to Abraham Mungia for 13 yards and 10 yards.
A fourth first down on a major penalty against the Longhorns moved the ball to the Hamshire-Fannett 13. A fumble seemed to spoil the scoring opportunity as Hamshire-Fannett recovered at its 15.
The Cardinal defense netted a minus seven yards forcing a Longhorn punt that only went 27 yards into the wind. Bridge City started its second drive at the Longhorn 35.
One play and Bridge City was on the board as Bearden passed to Mungia who broke at least three tackles during the 35-yard touchdown scamper. Victor Hernandez kicked the extra point to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 10:02 played in the first quarter.
Hernandez pouched kicked to his right where the ball was taken at the 21 by the Longhorns' Starnes. After eluding a couple of would be Cardinal tacklers Starnes ran down the sideline in front of the Cardinal bench shaking off Hernandez who was the last Cardinal with a shot at him to go 79 yards for the touchdown. Delino Doucet tied the game 7-7 with his kick with 1:44 left in the quarter.
The tide of the game changed after that. The Longhorns scored on its next two possessions and Bridge City would not gain another first down in the half.
Bryson and Starnes connected for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Chris Augustine ran 26 yards to make the score 21-7 with 4:21 before half time.
The Cardinals had their opportunities. Jerris Brown returned the kickoff after the Augustine score for 45 yards setting up Bridge City at the Hamshire-Fannett 35. On fourth and long Bearden was intercepted by Drew Pritchard of the Longhorns.
Austin Bellanger then intercepted Bryson to get the ball back for Bridge City. The Cardinals were forced to punt after four plays, but Bellanger who stepped in to punt for the injured Gavin Bodin boomed a beautiful high kick the Longhorn receiver muffed and Bridge City recovered the ball at the Longhorn 31.
There were only fourteen seconds remaining in the second quarter, but time maybe for two long passes to the end zone. Bearden was sacked on both downs as time ran out in the half.
The second half started with the Cardinals gaining 20 yards on their first play a pass from Bearden to Stephen Stone that got the ball to midfield. The drive ended there and Bridge City punted.
On their second possession the Cardinals had a 17-yard completion to Mungia taking the ball to the Hamshire-Fannett 44. Again the drive stalled and Bellanger punted the ball to the Longhorns.
Bryson completed two first down passes to move the ball to the Longhorn 42. On the next play Bryson handed the ball to D'onte Zeno who in previous seasons had been the Longhorn quarterback and he threw an option pass to a wide open Starnes for a 58-yard touchdown with 3:47 to go in the third quarter.
Hamshire-Fannett would score two more touchdowns before the quarter ended. Bryson threw a 79-yard touchdown to Pierce Pirtle, and after the Longhorns recovered their own pouch kick Bryson and Starnes hooked up again for a 22-yard touchdown to make the score 42-7 with 1:06 remaining in the third period.
There was no further scoring in the fourth quarter. Bridge City did pickup one more first down on a run by Bearden that helped the Cardinals run out the clock to finish the game.
On the night Bearden completed 12 of his 21 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Mungia was the leading receiver for the Cardinals with 6 catches for 99 yards.
The Longhorns' Bryson was 17 of 26 passing for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns with one interception. Hamshire-Fannett rushed for 165 yards with Augustine being the top ground gainer for either team with 72 yards on five carries.
The Bridge City Cardinals have their bye with no game scheduled next week. The Cardinals play again Friday, October 6, at Jasper.