Manvel was welcomed to The Jungle Friday night, where it’s as hard to find a seat, as it is a win.
The defending state finalist strode into town after destroying a ranked Class 6A opponent, Clear Lake. Crosby had held serve, defeating strong New Caney in preparation for an epic battle. As the clock ran out, Crosby turned in an epic finish.
Back-up quarterback Kobe Coker threw a touchdown pass to Jaiden Howard in the back of the end zone a time expired to give Crosby a 49-47 win. The touchdown capped off one of several rallies for the Cougars.
Howard drove the team down the field and put the icing on the cake. Fittingly enough, he had to contort his body around the defender to scoop the ball before it hit the turf and provide the town of Crosby with faith, hope and love. And also joy in a miraculous win that bested the miracle of Jerry Jones’ grandson last December in the state championship game.
When asked to describe the past 2-1/2 hours in a word, Crosby head coach Jeff Riordan said, “Belief.”
Manvel controlled the first quarter, exploding to a 21-0 lead behind the two-headed monster at running back in LaDarius Owens and Garrison Johnson. Owens ran for 311 yards and Johnson added 185. Crosby wide receiver Matthew Fagnana caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Howard to keep the officials from calling the game in the first quarter. Crosby outscored Manvel 29-13 in the next 24 minutes to fight back in the game. It included a halftime break to listen to the Big Red Machine as well as suck down pickle juice to alleviate cramping.
Crosby’s running back trio of Zach Simon and Noel Wright and Howard each gained over 100 yards as Crosby rolled on the ground and took a 43-34 lead into the fourth quarter. Manvel scored twice to take the lead, but it would not be enough. If you weren’t blessed to witness it in The Jungle, buy the book or listen to it on Texan Live.
Johnson ripped off a 42-yard run to give Manvel a 47-43 lead with 2:32 left in the game. Manvel attempted a two-point conversion that failed.
Howard, a surgeon with the number 7 on his chest and a back that can do it all, drove the team down the field for the winning score.
Howard was 10 of 19 for 171 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 101 yards and a score while catching the winning touchdown. Simon had 112 yards and two touchdowns while Wright had 107 yards and a score.
Fagnana had seven receptions for 117 yards and a score. The defense gave up 590 yards but won the turnover battle with three fumble recoveries and an interception while the Cougar offense never gave it away.
Crosby will have a bye week before hosting West Orange-Stark.