BAYTOWN, Texas — Costly Texas turnovers in the second half aided a Louisiana comeback and ended a three-year win streak for the Texas All-Stars in the Bayou Bowl.
Louisiana topped the host Texas All-Stars 30-23 in the ninth annual Bayou Bowl at Stallworth Stadium on Saturday night.
Texas coughed up four second-half turnovers, including three fumbles and a strip, which led to 17 Louisiana points.
“We turned the ball over and they took advantage. We almost made plays in the end, but to do what we did in one week’s time is something,” said Texas coach Richard Carson. “Hats off to Louisiana. Both sides did a great job.”
For Louisiana coach Sam Messina of Loranger, avenging a 42-13 drubbing at the hands of the Texas All-Stars last season was a nice way to end an eventful week.
“It felt good to end Texas’ three-year run,” Messina said. “I was a part of the game last season, and I felt like we didn’t play our best. We have a lot high-character guys, and they played well tonight.”
Texas made its defensive stop of the night when Cedric Skinner was tackled for no gain, but Louisiana kicker Justin Manton of St. Amant High, connected from 54 yards out to put Louisiana up 23-16 with 2:46 left in the game.
Quarterback Trey Anderson led the Texas All-Stars to midfield before being stood up and stripped by Louisiana’s Ronnie Wheeler of Franklinton, who carried the ball 50 yards for a game-clinching touchdown and sealed the win for the visiting all-stars.
Wheeler was selected the MVP for the Louisiana squad.
“When you have a team of all-stars, you have a team of playmakers, and that’s exactly what Wheeler is,” said Messina.
Anderson connected with a Texas receiver for a 25-yard touchdown to cut the Louisiana lead to 30-23 with 55 seconds remaining, but the following onsides kick was touched early by Texas and Louisiana kneeled out the clock.
The Texas All-Stars struck first when running back Tim Gay went untouched from 11 yards out to cap a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive on Texas’ second possession of the game.
The Texas All-Stars, led by Kendall Wilkerson and the offensive line, blew open holes for Gay, Washington and Chris Nutall on 11-straight running plays to put Texas up 7-0 at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter.
Louisiana took the ensuing possession 57 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 7-all after a Manton extra point.
Dillon Berlin of St. Louis Catholic-Lake Charles pounded in a 1-yard run at 1:56 in the first quarter for Louisiana’s first score and ended a 12-play drive.
After a 45-yard missed field goal by Texas’ Andy Wickman, and a three-and-out from the visiting all-stars, Texas scored on a 5-yard run by Washington.
A fumbled snap on the ensuing extra point left Texas up, 13-7, after two quarters.
The third quarter was dominated by Louisiana as they stormed out of the locker room and claimed a 20-13 lead.
The Louisiana All-Stars held the ball for all but two minutes of the third quarter and scored 10 points off two Texas turnovers.
Louisiana’s Gaven Weber of Barbe-Lake Charles returned an Anderson fumble 20 yards for a touchdown before Manton made good on his first field of the night from 41 yards out after a second Texas fumble to give the visitors the seven-point advantage.
“We were down six points at halftime, and our kids stepped up. They decided to play defense and they made plays,” Messina said.
Washington led Texas to the Louisiana 13-yard line before Wickman converted his first field goal from 30 yards out to cut the Louisiana lead to 20-16 with 7:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like we started the second half well with a nice drive, but once we got down, we got out of what we like to do,” said Richardson.
After falling behind, Texas had to abandon the run game that worked so well in the first half went to drop-back passing.
The host all-stars finished with a combined 71 yards passing for one touchdown while rushing for 225 yards from seven ball carriers.
Nutall led all rushers with 112 yards on 16 carries, while Dutchtown’s Leon Blouin led the Louisiana effort with 14 carries for 92 yards.
“Nutall did a great job for us. He was fun all week. He’s a good-hearted kid and he did exactly what we thought he would do,” said Carson. “It was an honor and privilege to represent the state of Texas and the Texas Coaches Association.”
For Messina and his victorious squad, the ride back to Louisiana got a little easier following their big win.
“The ride home will be a lot sweeter,” he said.