JOURDANTON – The George West Longhorns delivered their own version of shock and awe in a 55-6 trouncing of the Cotulla Cowboys in the opening round of the playoffs in a Thursday night game on Nov. 14.
After a slow start in which the Horns led only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, GW led 21-0 at halftime but came close to leading 28-0. Rorie Campbell and a Cotulla defensive back fought for possession of the ball and the Cowboy defender pilfered the ball away.
The Longhorns made up for the missed opportunity on the opening play of the second half, as Michael Upton raced past the Cowboy kicking team and showed Cotulla the type of second half it could expect, putting the Horns up by four touchdowns and establishing their second half dominance.
By the time the smoke cleared at the end of the third quarter, the Longhorns led 41-6.
One of the few things to go wrong in the second half for George West turned out to be the highlight of the game for Cotulla — a 72-yard pass play for a touchdown that turned out to be the Cowboys only score.
• Brenden Henicke darted through Cotulla defenders for a 27-yard touchdown for the game’s first score with 3:02 in the first quarter. Keaton Neal’s extra point made the score 7-0 in favor of George West.
• Henicke made his presence known on defense, sacking the Cowboy quarterback and causing a fumble that Cotulla was able to recover, but also forcing a punt.
• Henicke struck again on offense, sprinting for a 9-yard TD run with 8:23 in the half. Neal’s kick made the score 14-0 for the Longhorns.
• The Henicke Show continues, as he scampered into the end zone from eight yards out. Neal’s kick gave GW a 21-0 lead with 3:46 in the half.
• Michael Upton took the second half kickoff the distance to give the Longhorns another touchdown. Once again, Neal’s kick was good and GW leads 28-0 with 11:47 in the third quarter.
• GW defender Hunter Freeman intercepted a Cowboy pass with 8:53 in the third quarter to stop a Cotulla drive at the Longhorn 31-yard line.
• Quarterback Coltan Orr broke loose for a 53-yard touchdown run on a third and four play with 7:36 in the third quarter. Neal’s kick was good for a 35-0 Horn lead.
• Following the Cowboys’ only score, the Longhorns blocked Cotulla’s extra point kick.
• On a third and 9 play, Orr juked a defender, leaving him in the dust to keep the Longhorn drive alive. Three plays later, Upton charged into the end zone. The extra point kick missed, leaving GW on top 41-6 with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
• Devin Smith for George West tackled the Cotulla quarterback for no gain, and feeling the pressure on the next play, the quarterback made a throw that was intercepted by Freeman and returned to the Cotulla 15-yard line.
• Upton plunged into the end zone on a one-yard run up the middle, and Neal’s kick makes the score 48-6 for GW with 11:03 left in the game.
• A heads up tackle by Joseph Tidwell for GW forces the Cowboys to punt. Upton returned the punt for a touchdown, but the play was called back because of a penalty.
• Orr once again displayed outstanding footwork, juking a Cotulla defender and racing to their end zone on a 43-yard touchdown run with 5:21 left on the clock. Neal’s kick made the final score 55-6 for the Longhorns.
“We executed our game plan and have to get ready for next week,” Coach Brent Kornegay told the Longhorns after the game. “The field (in the high school football playoffs) has been cut to 32.”
After the game, Henicke said the Longhorns are gaining assurance in their ability to make a deep playoff run, seeking to improve on their second round appearance in 2018.
“It was a big confidence-builder for us — we needed it,” Henicke said. “My team came out to play, and I’ll take my team against anybody.”
After missing the start of the season because of an injury, Henicke said he is thrilled to be able to help the Longhorns in the playoffs.
“It feels great to be able to play,” he said. “I’d never been injured until this year, so it’s great to be able to be back on the field. We’re looking forward to keeping it going.”
Upton said he was pleased with the Horns performance.
“We played good — we played the way we should play,” he said. “We’re ready for next week and keeping it going all the way to state.”
Orr said even with the big win, the Longhorns still have things they can improve on.
“We just have to come out stronger to start the game,” he said. “It’s one thing we can do better, especially in the playoffs. “Once we got rolling we weren’t going to be stopped.”
Orr also missed some playing time to injury before returning to lead the team down the stretch in its district title run.
“I just had to rely on my teammates and they were able to get it done,” Orr said. “Devon (Jackson, the team’s backup quarterback and a starting receiver) did a great job stepping in when I wasn’t able to play, and the team didn’t skip a beat.”
With a mostly healthy team, and a motivated and confident one to boot, the beat goes on for this undefeated Longhorn team.
Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. He can be reached at 361-786-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.