Mayde Creek’s first playoff game since 2008 resulted in its first playoff win since 1997.
And like the 11 years that came between that last postseason appearance on Nov. 13, 2008, it did not come easily.
It was only until 1-minute, 53-seconds remained that the Rams could breathe easily. On 2nd-and-10 from Mayde Creek’s 26-yard line and the Rams ahead by six, Fort Bend Bush senior quarterback Michael Adeyaba lofted a fade pass toward the end zone, intended for senior receiver Jalen Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon had just scored 37 seconds earlier to pull the Broncos within a touchdown of the Rams.
But Mayde Creek junior defensive back Joseph Kinyock read the play perfectly, picking off the pass to secure a dramatic 27-21 Class 6A-Division II bi-district playoff win on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Legacy Stadium.
“The previous plays before, I noticed they were throwing fades,” Kinyock said. “So my coach told me to switch sides (left to right). No. 3 (Adeyaba), watching film on him, he can’t really throw; he’s a receiver. So I thought he’d underthrow it or throw it out of bounds. So I baited him, and once I saw him throw it, I went up and got the ball.”
The Rams are 9-2 heading into next week’s area round playoff game against Cy-Creek on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Pridgeon Stadium in Cypress.
“We’re changing the culture,” Kinyock said of a program that had seven total wins in the last three seasons. “It feels like we’re on top of the world, but we haven’t reached the limit yet. We have five more games.”
Kinyock’s interception was the eighth and final takeaway in a game littered with turnovers. The Rams lost five of seven fumbles. Bush (5-6) turned it over three times: two interceptions and a lost fumble.
It was certainly a game of attrition; mostly, however, through subpar play and unfavorable weather conditions.
Eventually, Mayde Creek’s offense wore down Bush’s defense when it counted, and Bush just never could get through the absence of a slew of key offensive players due to injuries.
“It felt like it was difficult,” Rams coach Mike Rabe said on the win. “It was hard to close this one out. I think you could see the jitters late during the football game, which is very uncharacteristic of our football team to look like that late. They did what they had to do to hang on. The defense made plays to step up there at the end and we got away with a win.”
A perfect synopsis of the game came on junior quarterback Donte Jones’ 36-yard touchdown run with 7:54 left in the third quarter that put Mayde Creek ahead for good, 14-7.
On a run-pass option, Jones faked a handoff to junior running back Julius Loughridge, ran around the left side for about a yard, fumbled the ball before it bounced two yards directly into his path, picked it right back up in stride, and continued untouched through a pair of defenders into the end zone.
There it is. @TayCashout 36-yard TD burst follows the big @Julius15_15 run. Athletic play—picked up his own fumble along the way. 14-7 Rams, 7:54, 3Q. #txhsfb @MCRamFootball @MCHSAthleticDep pic.twitter.com/M709YGhxCR— Dennis Silva II (@densilva2) November 15, 2019
Jones and Loughridge, who totaled 193 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, accounted for five of the seven fumbles. In the bitterly cold 45-degree evening, Loughridge wore gloves for the first time in a game, something he said accounted for the drops.
“We’ve been real solid on ball security all year,” said Rabe, whose team had only lost five of 13 fumbles this season entering the game. “It was shocking to see that tonight. It’s not something we’re accustomed to seeing.”
Still, his faith and trust in Jones and Loughridge never wavered.
“They got us to this point,” Rabe said. “We’re going to keep giving them the football.”
They rewarded him. Jones scored two touchdowns in the second half, and it was Loughridge’s punishing 12-yard score with 7:35 left in the game that ultimately proved to be the difference-maker.
Speaking of wearing defenses down ... @Julius15_15 12-yard TD run, with some help from his friends in green. 27-14 Mayde Creek, 7:35, 4Q. #txhsfb @MCRamFootball @MCHSAthleticDep pic.twitter.com/a6EXbzJXAR— Dennis Silva II (@densilva2) November 15, 2019
“It shows faith in our team,” Loughridge said of his coach’s trust in players. “This team plays with confidence. The defense kept getting stops. The offense put together some big drives at the end. At the end of the day, it’s a win.”
Rabe chalked up some of the unforced errors at the end of the game to nerves. He also said he expects better next week in the area round.
“I didn’t feel like nerves were too bad early, but as we worked through and we could see that we really had a chance to close it out, I think you could see us tighten up and make some unforced errors at the end,” Rabe said. “This is big for our football program. They’ve been here now and I expect them to play better next week.”
Mayde Creek outgained Bush 273-97 in total yards in what was a stellar defensive performance. Fourteen of the Broncos’ 21 points came off Rams turnovers, and Bush only managed seven first downs.
Offensively, aside from the play of Jones and Loughridge, senior receiver/running back Daniel Huery had 75 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Senior quarterback John Zolacha gave the offense some life with a big series in the first half, completing 3 of 3 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown to Huery to tie the game at 7 about midway through the second quarter.
“After all the work and the grind, this feels so great,” said junior defensive lineman Gabriel Quezada, who had a fumble recovery. “We worked for this. We’ve been wanting this for a while. This is an exciting time. Our confidence is high.”