Ganders outlast Crosby in fiery finish, 43-42

By David Taylor Managing Editor Star-Courier

Crosby must have felt comfortable as they led 28- 14 late in the third quarter over district foe Baytown Lee at Stallworth Stadium last Friday night, but then the house fell in. The Gander offense reeled off four touchdowns beginning late in the third quarter and finishing up with seconds remaining in the final stanza to eke out a tight win over the Cougars, 43-42.

Early on, the contest was a see-saw battle between the two in the first district game of the season.

After two four-and-outs for both teams, the offenses began to gain traction. Lee’s QB Levay Duncan scored on a two-yard run with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive for the Ganders. Andres Guzman added the PAT and the Ganders led early, 7-0.

Crosby’s Kade Eudy connected on a 26-yard pass to Brandt Wright with 14 seconds left in the first quarter and then added the PAT to knot the score at 7 all.

On the next series, the Ganders went 70 yards in five plays to hit pay dirt with a 1-yard plunge by QB Duncan with 10:19 left in the second quarter.

Eudy led the Coogs back down the field with an 11- play, 75-yard effort and a two-yard run for a TD by Levi Fontenot tying the score again at 14 all.

Brandt Wright intercepted a tipped Gander pass at the Crosby 21-yard line and returned it to the Lee 38.

Eight plays later, Eudy rewarded Wright with a 16-yard TD pass. Eudy’s PAT gave the Cougars a 21-14 lead at the break.

Coming out of the half, the Coogs were looking for separation fearing a seesaw battle with the Ganders the rest of the game. With their first possession, Eudy alternated handing the ball off to Fontenot and RB Wesley Yarbrough as they marshaled an extended lead with a 1-yard run into the end zone by Yarbrough eating up 8:15 off the clock. With 6:45 remaining in the third quarter, the Ganders put together a time-consuming 12-play 79-yard drive that ended with a Duncan 22- yard pass to Kylan Williams for the touchdown.

Momentum seemed to shift to the Ganders with the TD and Head Coach Tim Finn gambled on the kickoff with an on-side kick surprising the Cougars recovering the ball at the Cougar 48. Four plays later, QB Duncan connected with Williams again, this time for a 25-yard catch in the end zone. Guzman’s PAT tied the game up 28-28 with 11:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Both teams went on a scoring spree to take the advantage.

Yarbrough punched the ball in from the 2-yard line with 9:03 remaining to give the Coogs a 35-28 temporary lead.

Lee’s Radavion Taylor scampered 11-yards to bring the Ganders within 1 point. Gander coach Finn gambled again and a Duncan pass to Josiah Joseph for the 2-point conversion gave Lee what seemed like the lead and probable win with only 1:26 ticks left on the clock.

Crosby, however, would shock the Ganders when Yarbrough broke free from the line of scrimmage and bolted 54-yards into the end zone. Needing a two point conversion, Coach Joe Willis rolled the dice and Fontenot ran the ball in to give the Coogs a 43- 36 lead with only 45 seconds left in the game.

In what appeared to be a breakdown by Crosby special teams, Lee freshman Josh Marquez took the kickoff at the Lee 30- yard line and ran it back to the Crosby 37.

Aided by a pass interference call at the end zone, Duncan found Joseph in the end zone with a 17- yard pass for the touchdown. Trailing 43-42, the Ganders’ Finn gambled again and went for the two-point conversion. Taylor found an opening on the left side and ran the ball in, giving Lee the win, 44- 43.

It’s the first time Crosby has started the season 0-3 since the 2019 campaign when they opened with losses to New Caney (28-8), Manvel (39-27), and Vidor (37-27). The Coogs are also 0-1 in district.