With something to play for, the Crosby Cougars came to Baytown Friday night wielding their A game.
As for hosts Robert E. Lee, they played hospitable hosts as the Cougars ran roughshod over the Ganders via numerous explosive plays by ground or air on the way to a 59-14 District 12-5A II win in the regular season finale.
The loss denied the Ganders (5-5, 2-5) a first winning record since 2006 - the year prior to the opening of Goose Creek Memorial High School in Baytown - and an improvement in district wins from last season.
“It was just not a very good performance by us and a very good one by them,” REL head coach Tim Finn said. “They had a lot to play for: They were win or out and they were a highly motivated team and it showed from the first snap.
“We have a lot to learn and to grow up and have to learn the competitive level you have to have to play in a game like this.”
Crosby (5-4, 5-2) wrapped up second place in the district and clinched a home bi-district playoff game next week against either Houston Sterling or Fort Bend Willowridge.
“We’ve talked about it all year long with our kids that if we cut out the penalties and turnovers we could be really effective on both sides of the ball,” Crosby head coach Jerry Prieto said. “We executed on both sides of the ball and we talked about this being a playoff game for us and I am extremely proud of the kids and coaching staff.
“I am just so proud of these kids. They’ve had a lot going against them the last two years and they’ve just stuck to it and stayed true to the family. They bear the fruits of their labor.”
The Cougars cemented the win early behind two first half touchdown passes and two scoring runs by quarterback Reggie Branch that led Crosby to a 38-6 halftime lead.
Four of Crosby’s five first-half scores went for a combined 180 yards.
Branch scored on runs of three and 30 yards and connected with Emonte Wilson and Jalen Herman for 60 and 48 scoring strikes.
Wilson added a 52-yard touchdown run.
Amidst the Crosby deluge, REL scored on a leaping catch from Elijah Partida over two Cougar defenders on an Ijenea Wooley pass and he took off to the house for a 60-yard score.
Trevor Helburg wrapped the half with a 22-yard field goal for Crosby.
Crosby’s defense set the tone in the first quarter by holding REL to three plays for seven yards while the Cougars offense blitzed the Ganders defense to 113 yards rushing alone.
“The defense came out and shut down a really good offense,” Prieto said.
Leondre Smith added two four-yard touchdown runs and Branch connected with Jeremiah Patterson on a 13-yard scoring pass to account for the rest of the Crosby scoring.
Jabier Quinones scored on an 18-yard run late in the game for REL to finish out the season’s account for the Ganders.
Branch finished 17-for-22 passing for 233 yards and 14 carries for 138 yards on the ground.
“He took over the game in a lot of instances and did what great players do,” Prieto said.
Wooley finished his high school career going 4-for-13 for 106 yards, 95 of which were amassed by Elijah Partida.
Finn believes that last week’s loss to Vidor – which ended the Ganders playoff hopes – may be remained as a bit of a hangover with the players.
“If we are playing for the same thing they were playing for, it might have made a difference,” Finn said. “Crosby played a really good football game. We couldn’t move the ball on them and couldn’t stop them. Getting down early we couldn’t overcome.”
Barbers Hill 34, Santa Fe 7
The Eagles (9-1, 7-0) head into the postseason with a nine-game win streak and an unbeaten District 12-5A II title with their win against Santa Fe on senior night.
Orangefield 42, Anahuac 19
Anahuac will enter the bi-district round of the playoffs next week as the third seed from District 12-3A I after Friday's loss.
The Panthers (5-5, 5-2) have lost their last two games.