After struggling to a 0-4 start, the Tomball Cougars stormed back this season to earn a playoff berth. The Cougars showed that the playoff spot was no fluke, after hammering Houston Reagan 47-14 in a bi-district showdown Nov, 15.
"Change equals discomfort," said first-year Tomball coach Danny Ramsey. "When you get discomfort it's difficult to put guys together and get them going in the same direction. These kids fought through adversity in the first four games and put a legacy together."
The Cougars opened up the scoring on the game's first possession, as they drove downfield, deep into the red zone. The drive stalled at the Reagan 4-yard line though and Tomball had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Chadd Brown.
The Tomball defense started a trend of swarming and harassing the Reagan offense on the ensuing possession, as defensive back Tyler King broke up a third down pass to force a punt.
Both teams traded turnovers in their next drives by failing on fourth down plays, giving Tomball the ball with a little more than two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Starting at its own 37-yard line, the Cougars drove down the field with a purpose, running the ball eight times for 63 yards. Quarterback Drew Reynolds capped off the drive with a 5-yard bootleg around the right side for a score, as time expired. Brown's extra-point gave Tomball a 10-0 lead after one quarter of play.
Reagan quarterback Tyron Washington saw the first snap of the second quarter sail over his head. Tomball's David Luna recovered the ball at the Reagan 32, giving the Cougars excellent field position.
Tomball methodically took the ball down field, scoring on a 5-yard run from running back Dmitri Scott to take a 17-0 lead.
Both teams were unable to get much going in their next few drives. Reagan shot themselves in the foot while attempting a big fourth-and-one from their own 25-yard line. Two false start penalties in a row forced the Bulldogs to punt from about their own 5-yard line.
The short punt allowed Tomball to take over at the Reagan 40, where they wasted little time in adding to their lead.
After a 7-yard run by running back Percy Alford, Reynolds juked and jived his way to the Reagan nine. He barreled it in from there, giving the Cougars a 24-0 halftime lead.
Reagan opened the second half with a little trickery that backfired, as they attempted a fake punt. The ball was direct snapped to the up-back, who let the ball slip from his hand as he was going back to throw. Reagan recovered the fumble in their own end zone, leading to a safety and a 26-0 Tomball lead.
The Cougars took control of the game for good on their ensuing drive as Richards found Weston Shattuck over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown pass and the rout was on.
Tomball looked well on their way towards another score later in the quarter, but Reynolds pass was intercepted by Reagan's Tavon Dodd, who returned it 78 yards for a pick six, cutting the lead to 33-7.
The Bulldogs then went on to sustain their best drive of the game, capping it off with a 5-yard touchdown by Dodd.
With their big lead now nearly cut in half, the Cougars rallied on their next possession, when Scott caught a pass from Reynolds and weaved his way to the end zone for a 66-yard touchdown. The extra-point extended the lead to 40-14 with nine minutes to play.
"You are only going to play as good as you can control your emotions," Ramsey said. "We may have had a little breakdown there, but give the kids credit because they refocused and put the game away."
With the big lead, Ramsey decided to give his backups some playoff experience and they responded. Quarterback Austin Sturtzman broke initial containment at the line and raced downfield 50 yards to the Reagan 11-yard line.
Three plays later running back Max Baranoske plowed his way for a one-yard touchdown, for the final 47-14 score.
The Cougars bested Reagan 604-127 in total yards, with 463 of those on the ground. Xavier Powell was the workhorse, running 25 times for 168 yards. Reynolds added 99 yards on 15 carries, with two touchdowns, while Scott had 62 yards on nine rushes and a touchdown. Sturtzman had 63 yards on three carries, while Alford had 28 yards on eight rushes. Baranoske rounded it all out with 22 yards on three carries and a score.
Reynolds was 5-12 passing with two touchdowns and 141 yards through the air.
The Cougars will play Angleton, who defeated Friendswood 48-41 in the first round, at Humble's Turner Stadium, Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.