The La Vega Pirates are in wait-and-see mode as they head into their bye week next week.
Few results could have left La Vega feeling worse about its 260-plus-mile trip to play Texarkana Liberty-Eylau on Friday night. Granted, the Pirates were leading 49-6 when the contest went off the rails, but it probably didn’t feel like a win on the long ride home.
The game’s events sent ripples across Central Texas as word spread that it was halted in the third quarter following a benches-clearing brawl.
I got the news via Twitter as I was covering a thrilling Connally versus Lorena matchup. My reaction was “uh oh.”
It was still unclear on Saturday whether the game would be a double forfeit or if it would still count as a win for La Vega. It will be up to the game officials and the University Interscholastic League to determine the consequences for both schools moving forward.
Having read through the UIL football manual’s entry on “fighting,” it looks like the game officials are required to submit an incident report in writing and the UIL will take it from there. Players aren’t allowed to leave the bench to enter the fray, obviously, but it doesn’t clearly indicate that doing so automatically results in a suspension, especially when the game is discontinued.
I was able to talk to La Vega coach Don Hyde on the phone on Saturday, but he abstained from predicting what the UIL will do and he declined comment on the series of events that led to the brawl.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like that,” Hyde said. “We’ll wait for the UIL to tell us (its ruling).”
I also talked to radio broadcaster and sportswriter Brian Crownover, who was calling the game for 94.5 FM The Beat and covering it for the Trib. His description of the benches-clearing fight led me to believe there was no choice but to stop the game.
According to Crownover, the tension between the two teams was escalating, beginning in the first quarter. Liberty-Eylau was called for two personal fouls before the brawl and the Leopards were getting more aggressive after the whistle as La Vega mounted what became a 49-0 lead.
Crownover said he remarked to broadcast partner Rich Richardson sometime in the third quarter that it felt like the turbulence on the field was on the verge of something bad happening and Richardson agreed.
Liberty-Eylau’s Damian Henderson scored his team’s first touchdown on a three-yard run with 1:26 left in the third quarter. At the end of the play, a Liberty-Eylau and La Vega player started pushing each other and eventually punches were thrown.
Crownover, said it was clear that the Liberty-Eylau bench was the first to rush onto the field and join in the fighting. The La Vega bench players watched in apparent shock for a few seconds, but then the Pirates players left their bench area as well.
As of Saturday afternoon, I haven’t seen any video surface of the fight, so it’s difficult to imagine the next part. But the brawl continued for more than a minute and there were multiple groups of players who were ganging up and beating an opponent.
The La Vega and Liberty-Eylau coaches, along with the game officials and law enforcement eventually separated the fighting players.
When the officials determined that UIL rules called for the game to be ended after the benches were cleared, La Vega packed up and left pretty quickly. Hyde said he wasn’t held up from leaving by officials or law enforcement to give his account. He estimated the Pirates made it back to their school between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m.
So like La Vega, those of us who follow high school football in Central Texas will wait to see how the UIL responds.
The only opinion I have to offer is that it should have been an uneventful final 13 minutes of the Pirates versus Leopards game. The actions that took place seem like the outpouring of frustration and that points blame toward Liberty-Eylau, which was winless coming into the game and trailing 49-0. But there’s blame to go around and I’m sure the defending state champion Pirates wish they hadn’t gotten dragged into this situation.
Now, for something more positive, here are a few of the results that came in late Friday night.
Bruceville-Eddy 49, Itasca 6
In Eddy, the Bruceville-Eddy offense set the tone in the first quarter by establishing a 20-0 lead and the Eagles cruised to their fourth-straight victory.
Bruceville-Eddy running back Nathan Quattlebaum scored on runs of 22 and 19 yards and quarterback Trapper Ensor tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to John Lopez, all in the first 12 minutes, giving the Eagles control
With the win, Bruceville-Eddy improved to 5-1 this season and 2-0 in District 8-2A Division I. Itasca dropped to 2-4, 0-2 in district.
Quattlebaum, the area’s leading rusher entering Friday’s games, carried 19 times for 147 yards and four touchdowns.
Marlin 33, Rosebud-Lott 0
In Travis, the Marlin Bulldogs snapped a 16-game losing streak by shutting out Rosebud-Lott.
In doing so, Marlin first-year coach David Haynes Jr. earned his first victory as a head coach. The Bulldogs improved to 1-4 and 1-0 in 13-2A DI. Rosebud-Lott fell to 0-6, 0-1.
Marlin running back Charleston Lee carried 17 times for 230 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He also had 17 tackles, including two for losses on defense. Bulldogs quarterback Braylen Fisher added 111 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
Before Friday, the Bulldogs’ last win was a 35-19 victory over New Waverly on Nov. 3 of 2017.
Riesel 64, Moody 48
In Moody, Riesel running back Donovan Blakes rushed for 233 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Indians to a victory in their 8-2A DI opener.
Austin Searcy and Dakota Davis added 166 and 106 rushing yards respectively and combined for three touchdowns for Riesel (2-3, 1-0).
The Indians trailed 26-14 at halftime, but scored the first 22 points of the second half to swing momentum to their side. Riesel then finished off the win through a wild second half in which the Indians and Bearcats combined for 72 points.
Even Norward rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown to lead Moody (1-5, 0-2).
Methodist Children’s Home 74, Abbott 59
MCH quarterback Solomon Harvey passed for 268 yards and six touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs to their third win over a public school this season.
MCH’s Dremon Bible and Reggie Williams each caught a pair of touchdown passes and the duo combined for 342 total yards.
With the win, the Bulldogs kept their record perfect at 6-0. Abbott (2-4) starts district play at Covington next week.