SWEENY — First-half gloom turned into a second-half boom as the Brazosport Exporters exploded for 20 points in the third quarter Friday night en route to a 27-12 victory over the Sweeny Bulldogs at Bulldog Stadium.
Brazosport (2-0) trailed 12-7 at halftime but turned things around both offensively and defensively in the final two quarters. The Exporters outgained Sweeny 254-38 in the second half to take charge of the game.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage a little bit better and decided to play football,” Brazosport coach Mark Kanipes said.
Making adjustments to what Sweeny was doing, which differed from what the Ships coaching staff saw them do on film from the previous week, led to the reversal of fortune, Kanipes said.
“We were overrunning the ball and we weren’t tackling well,” Kanipes said. “We decided to keep it simple and just lined up and played. We just got back to playing good football. We weren’t playing very well in the first half. I told them there’s 48 minutes of football to play. We didn’t play well in the first half and to just forget it and come back and play the final 24 minutes lights out. They did a great job.”
Sweeny coach Randy Lynch said his Bulldogs just didn’t execute in the second half.
“I thought in the first half we moved the ball effectively and did what we wanted to do,” Lynch said. “In the second half, we just didn’t execute like we wanted to. We just didn’t do what we did in the first half. It was some of the same plays, and we told them some of the adjustments they were going to make, but we just didn’t get it done.”
Things started going Brazosport’s way from the very start of the second half. Kevin Davis returned the opening kick 62 yards to the Sweeny 38 to set up the Exporters’ first touchdown drive of the third quarter.
With 10:45 left in the third, Pablo Marin caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kariyen Goins to give the Exporters a 14-12 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Sweeny’s Xavier Woods returned the ball to the Brazosport 24 to put the Bulldogs in excellent field position. But a pair of penalties stalled their momentum, and Brazosport eventually took over the ball on downs with 8:22 left in the period.
“We had back-to-back penalties and you just can’t do that. We’re not very good when we’re playing behind the chains,” Lynch said.
Not long after that, Brazosport’s Ray Bell took the ball on an end-around play and scampered 24 yards for a touchdown with 5:15 remaining in the third to increase Brazosport’s advantage to 21-12.
With 1:59 left in the third, Marin latched onto a pass from quarterback Alex Villareal that was tipped by a Sweeny defensive back and went 65 yards down the sideline for the Exporters’ final touchdown of the game.
In the first half, Sweeny was getting the best of the fight. The Bulldogs outgained Brazosport 191-107 in the first two quarters.
Woods, who rushed for 111 yards in the game, gave Sweeny a 6-0 lead with a minute left in the first quarter when he capped a 78-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good.
Brazosport responded with a 60-yard drive capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Daraell Preston with 9:25 left in the second quarter. Preston finished the game with 133 yards rushing. Zeke Vergara kicked the extra point to give Brazosport a 7-6 lead.
Just before halftime, Sweeny’s Trey Fields capped a 75-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left in the first half to put the Bulldogs up 12-7. Fields finished with 92 yards rushing.
Kanipes said he is happy to open the season with a pair of wins.
“It feels pretty doggone good,” he said. “I think we are starting to believe in the system and believe in what we are doing. We get better every day.”
The Ships will try to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they host Edna at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hopper Field. Edna will come into the game sporting an identical 2-0 record.