FREEPORT — With three players rushing for over 100 yards, the El Campo Ricebirds showed why their ground game is so lethal Friday, practically running the Brazosport Exporters out of Hopper Field in a 51-17 District 13-4A D-I victory.

El Campo sophomore Jontre Davis went for 182 yards on 27 carries, freshman Rueben Owens had 114 yards on 17 carries and junior Charles Shorter ground out for 113 yards on 14 carries.

“We were overrunning and didn’t have the bodies where they needed to be,” Brazosport head coach Mark Kanipes said. “We did lose some starters and playing with some different guys in there and had to make some changes. But they just came after us in that second half, and we couldn’t stop them. We didn’t battle like we’ve been battling, and like I told them, it is easy to be a ‘rah-rah’ guy when you are doing good, but when things are bad, it will show what kind of character we have.”

Brazosport held a 17-12 lead at the half but was outscored 39-0 in the final 24 minutes.

“We had a couple of turnovers and our big kid (senior Daraell Preston) got hurt, and the wheels just fell off the bus,” Kanipes said. “We have to do a better job of getting our kids ready to play. We just didn’t play very well in the second half. We couldn’t generate any offense, and our defense couldn’t get off the field. It just got ugly, and we didn’t play well.”

The Exporters fell to 1-1 in district and 4-2 overall.

El Campo improved to 2-1 in district and 6-1 overall as it went on a roll after getting the second-half kickoff. The Ricebirds went nine plays and covered 68 yards, with Davis taking care of the final yard as El Campo took the lead for good, 18-17, after missing the extra point.

Brazosport’s hopes of regaining the lead took a blow on its first drive in the third quarter. Preston took a big hit after a 2-yard gain on second down and fumbled the ball away.

Preston stayed down and eventually had to be helped off the field. That took the wind out of the Ships.

El Campo turned Preston’s fumble into another touchdown for Davis, this one for 5 yards, to build the lead to 24-17.

Davis went on to score twice more, including a 75-yarder in the final quarter where he zigzagged through the Ship defense, putting the advantage at 45-17.

El Campo opened the scoring on its first drive of the game, going 60 yards for a 6-0 lead, but its proved short-lived. Brazosport’s Kevin Davis took the ensuing kickoff at his own 7, faked a handoff to Ray Bell, and then took off 93 yards down the sideline. Zeke Vergara’s extra point put the Ships up 7-6.

A pooch kick by Brazosport caught the Ricebirds off-guard as no one went for the ball, and Davis recovered it at the El Campo 35 to set up another score. Preston barreled into the end zone six plays later, and Brazosport led 14-6.

But the Birds came right back with a 12-play, 63-yard drive. Owens topped it off with a 9-yard scoot into the end zone to pull the Ricebirds within 14-12.

Vergara added a 30-yard field goal before halftime.

The score belied the difficulty Brazosport had moving the ball in the first half, only 24 yards on the ground and 44 by the pass for 68 total yards.

The Ships will try to rebound when they head to Bay City next week, while El Campo will host Sealy.

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160.

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