CYPRESS — Bryan, hunting a first District 14-6A win, couldn’t have asked for a much better start, but the tables turned in the second quarter and Cypress Park scored 34 unanswered points for a 34-24 victory on Thursday at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium.
View photos from Thursday night's game at the end of this story.
Bryan linebacker Nick McDaniel, with help from a Christian Richardson block, ran 81 yards for a touchdown after pulling the ball out of Cy Park quarterback Michael Tolbert’s hands to open the scoring.
A few minutes later, Jalen Davis matched McDaniel with an 81-yard reception from Nico Bulhof. Davis caught the ball in stride, did well to avoid one defender and stay in bounds and got a late block from Camden Gray to put the Vikings up 14-0.
With the Tigers on their heels, the Vikings recovered an onside kick, which set up Bulhof’s 33-yard field goal and put Bryan up 17-0 after only 8 1/2 minutes.
It was all Cy Park (2-5, 2-3) from that point on with two Bryan (1-6, 0-5) fumbles allowing the Tigers to get back into the game.
“We just couldn’t get the momentum back,” Bryan head coach Ross Rogers said. “Dropped a few passes, made some bad throws, and then all of a sudden, it turned on us and they got the easy one, and we fumbled it again, which made it a game. Offensively, we just didn’t respond.
Bulhof fumbled at the end of an 11-yard run, and the Tigers recovered at their own 48. Six plays later, highlighted by a 29-yard run by James LeBlanc, Sergio Small went over from the 1. Two snaps later, the Tigers evened the score on fumble returns for touchdowns when LeBlanc picked up a Bulhof fumble in stride and had nothing but clear sailing for 35 yards.
Bryan’s defense held on the next two series to take a 17-14 lead into halftime despite only gaining 50 yards outside of Davis’ reception.
The Tigers came out from the break, and with their Wing-T offense, went 70 yards, all on the ground, in 10 plays. Nathan Livingston finished the drive with an 8-yard run up the middle to give Cy Park its first lead. The Tigers converted on third down twice, once with Small recovering his own fumble and another on a Michael Tolbert 15-yard scramble on third-and-12.
“Wing-T offense, with our young defensive linemen, we just didn’t play the technique, didn’t tackle as well as we should have,” Rogers said. “And give them credit, they executed well.”
Du’wayne Paulhill ended one Tiger drive by taking the ball away from Cameron King, who had bullied his way to the Viking 21 on a 12-yard gain.
Bulhof had to leave the game on the Vikings’ ensuing drive, and Gray came in. he completed his first pass to Gary Lynch for 14 yards, but the drive stalled with three incompletions.
The Tigers completed their first pass on the opening play of a drive that started at their 20 and then covered the next 74 yards in seven plays. King scored from 5 yards out on the second play of the fourth quarter to go up 27-17. Backup quarterback Harold Perkins, who was the star of the Tiger defense at linebacker, had the big play covering 28 yards on a run.
The Tigers used nine plays, all on the ground, to ice the game. Small went up the middle for 13 yards, carrying a couple of Bryan defenders into the end zone. The touchdown gave the Tigers 34 points for the game, their highest point total in a game in their two-year history.
“Disappointed we didn’t do a lot of things better,” Rogers said. “It’s a combination of what has been going on, and all we can do is just keep working on it.”
The Vikings pulled back a touchdown with 3:04 remaining. Davis went for 30 yards on his lone carry of the night, and a play later, Gray lobbed a pass in the corner of the end zone to Willie Jones for a 10-yard score.
The Tigers’ Gray and LeBlanc each had 17 carries and topped the 100-yard rushing mark with 130 and 107 yards, respectively. Sergio Small had 88 yards on 15 carries as the Tigers finished with 436 yards rushing on 62 carries.
Bryan will try to break into the district win column on Oct. 25 in its homecoming game against Cypress Springs.