Temple makes it third consecutive regional semifinal appearance when it faces Port Arthur Memorial in Class 5A Division I playoffs. The Titans lack the postseason experience of the Wildcats as they reached the third round for the first time since 2011. But what Memorial lacks in history, it can compensate in explosiveness.
Last week, the Titans went in front of Fort Bend Elkins 31-0 with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half and coasted to a 45-14 win. Memorial rushed for 379 yards on 52 carries with Elijah Hines leading the way with 25 carries for 183 yards and touchdown runs of 7 and 1 yard. Kobi Martin replaced Hines in the second half and contributed 120 yards on 13 carries including a 52-yard scoring gallop.
“We emphasize getting off to a quick start, and this is what our guys did today,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison told the Port Arthur News.
With the big lead, the Titans only threw eight times. Quarterback Kadon Harrison completed five passes for 55 yards and scored touchdowns on jaunts of 19 and 1 yard.
Temple, on the other hand, struggled to down Pflugerville Connally 17-14. The Wildcats trailed 14-7 at the half but rallied to tie in third quarter on Anthony Jefferson’s 9-yard run.
The game remained knotted 14-14 when Temple gained possession at its 34 with 47 seconds left to play. In three plays, the Wildcats advanced to the Connally 5, and Jared Wiley booted a 22-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining for the win.
Tremendous defense played a major role in propelling Temple into the regional semifinals. The Wildcats allowed 184 offensive yards to Connally in the first half but only 10 in the second.
Against the Cougars, quarterback Reid Hesse completed 13-of-30 passes for 160 yards. However, Hesse’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Johnson overcame an early 7-0 Connally lead. Zion Leach paced the Temple ground game with 95 yards on 11 carries.
“Our kids are so gutsy,” Wildcat head coach Scott Stewart told the Temple Daily Telegram. “We’re not the most talented group that’s come through Temple, but they fought as hard as any group I’ve been around.”