SEALY — A determined group of Brazosport Exporters were looking for an upset. They got one.

A 35-yard field goal by Zeke Vergara with under a minute to play gave the Ships a victory over Class 4A’s No. 4-ranked Sealy Tigers on Friday at T.J. Mills Stadium, 21-20.

“It feels great, but now we have to worry about the next team,” Brazosport coach Mark Kanipes said. “In this district, everybody is pretty darn tough, so it will be a battle every week. Celebrate tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”

Brazosport (1-0, 4-1) opened District 13-4A D-I with a punishing win against the Tigers (1-1, 4-1), handing them their first loss of the season.

“This win ranks up there with the best of them,” first-year coach Kanipes said. “That was a heck of a game. Great ball team over there, well-coached, classy character. It was a heavyweight fight, when two good teams get together, anything can happen. Good things happen, bad things happen, but we didn’t give up, we got our heads down a little bit when they got those two scores on us quick, but we came back and fought through and that is what it is all about. Hopefully, we will learn from this and get better and better.”

Down by a point at halftime, 6-5, the Brazosport Exporters had all the momentum going into the locker room after holding the Tigers to just 99 yards of total offense and two first downs.

But the Tigers made some adjustments at halftime and came out with a vengeance behind quarterback Carter Cryan as he went 10-of-11 passing with two quick scores to put Sealy up 20-5. One came on an 18-yard strike to Ja’Marris Cotton in the end zone and the other was a 49-yard throw to Hunter Clark.

Cryan seemed to be a bit more patient in the pocket, but the offensive line was giving him more time to throw the ball.

Meanwhile, Brazosport’s offense was held to just 3 yards of offense in that third stanza.

Everything seemed to change when the Exporter defense made a big stop just seconds into the final period.

The Ships took over at the 45-yard line of the Tigers and quickly got to the 10 on a 35-yard run by Rayleen Bell on an end around. He fumbled at the end of the play, but luckily, teammate Pablo Marin was right there to scoop up the ball to keep the drive moving. Three plays later, Daraell Preston plunged in from the 1-yard line to get the Ships within a 20-12 deficit.

On Sealy’s next drive, facing a third and five, CJ Calhoun made a big stop by catching Matthew Lord in the backfield for a two-yard loss.

“We were just trying to make them pass the ball, because we knew Lord was pretty fast,” Calhoun said. “But we were just trying to stop them and that is what we did.”

A shanked punt that went 13 yards had the Exporters starting at the 33-yard line of the Tigers. It took the Ships one play as freshman quarterback Kariyen Goins lateraled to Bell, who heaved the ball downfield to Eddie Flores in the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Brazosport down 20-18 with 8:42 left in the game.

Sealy picked up one first down on its next drive, but Calhoun made another big play on third and 3 when he caught Cryan from behind to force a fourth down.

The drive to the winning kick began at Brazosport’s own 28-yard line with six minutes left. Brazosport converted a couple of first downs, including a crucial one on fourth and 1 at the Sealy 19 when Preston rambled for four yards to the 15. The Ships bled the clock to 50.3 seconds when Vergara hit the winning boot.

“We knew they were going to hit us in the mouth, but we hit them in the mouth as well,” Kanipes said. “And when (Muhammed) Ali and (Joe) Frazier did the Thrilla in Manila, it was toe to toe and here you go.”

From the opening coin toss, the Ships came out wanting to see what exactly all of the hub-bub was about the Tigers.

“I wanted the ball to change things up a bit. We’ve so far won every toss and I usually defer, but I wanted to see what the offense could do,” Kanipes said.

The Ships moved the ball only 27 yards to the 50, but it proved they could move the ball on the ground.

“Their tempo is a bit different on offense, and I wanted to see how our defense would do against them,” Kanipes said. “But it seemed to work fine with what we did.”

A 33-yard field goal by Vergara in the second period gave the Ships a 3-0 lead.

Sealy’s only big play in the first half was a 53-yarder from Cryan to Cotton to take a 6-3 lead. But the extra point kick attempt was blocked, and Bell came up with the ball and outraced all Tigers for a two-point conversion and a one-point game, 6-5.

“This has really pumped us up, so now we are going to hopefully continue to beat everyone else,” Calhoun said. “But we need to keep going to practice and practice hard so we can keep doing good.”

Next up will be El Campo at Hopper Field next Friday.

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at joel.luna@thefacts.com

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