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PNG comes up short in State Championship

South Oak Cliff second half charge sinks Indians

ARLINGTON, Texas — Port Neches-Groves came up just a single win shy of the ultimate goal, falling in the 5A-Division II State Championship to South Oak Cliff, 34-24 Friday night. 

Playing in front of 32,098 rowdy fans in AT&T Stadium, the Indians (13-3) came out swinging. 

On the opening drive PNG quarterback Cole Crippen found Landon Guarnere for a 53 yard touchdown in stride to the Indians a 7-0 lead with 1:08 off of the clock. 

The defending champs would answer with a 21 yard field goal off the foot of Diego Vareia late in the first quarter after the PNG's defense held strong against their own goal line. 

Following a Andre Sandoval 39 yard field goal, the Tribe found themselves with a 10-3 lead with 9:12 left in the first half. 

That lead would shrink by two less than four minutes later when the vaunted Golden Bear defense took Crippen down in his own end zone. 

With PNG clinging to a 10-5 advantage, Isaiah Nguyen exploded for a huge run before being taken down inside the SOC five yard line. Moments later Shea Adams trotted in to give Big Purple a 17-5 lead. 

The Indians seemed to have all of the momentum when South Oak Cliff (13-3) faced a third and 18 in their own territory. Instead two PNG defenders collided on a deep pall tossed up by William Little, allowing Corthian Coleman to pick up 29 yards and a first down. 

Following a pass interference call, the Golden Bears were within striking distance. This time Little went fifteen yards through the air to Trey Jackson, who made a remarkable catch for the score.

While Port Neches-Groves held a 17-12 advantage heading in to halftime, it felt like SOC had taken the air out of the Indians. 

From there it was all South Oak Cliff.

The Golden Bear defense stifled the PNG attack, while also helping secure good field position for their offense. 

With SOC up 24-17 in the fourth, Manny Muhammad picked off a Crippen pass at the PNG 41 yard line and took it to the house. Muhammad, who is one of the top defensive backs in the nation, would earn Defensive MVP honors. 

Though the score didn't go their way, Jeff Joseph's team showed heart down the stretch, even after Cole Crippen left the game with an injury. 

Credit: Ashly Elam

First Downs: SOC 15 - PNG 14
Rushing Yards: PNG 141 - SOC 100
Passing Yards: SOC 235 - PNG 100
Total Yards: SOC 335 - PNG 248
Turnovers: PNG 1 - SOC 0

Individual Leaders

William Little (SOC) 9-16, 235 yards, TD
Cole Crippen (PNG) 2-8, 66 yards, TD, INT

Isaiah Nguyen (PNG) 22 carries, 154 yards
Danny Green (SOC) 15 carries, 68 yards

Jamyri Cauley (SOC) 2 catches, 62 yards
Chance Prosperie (PNG) 4 catches, 51 yards

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