The Navasota Rattlers took over on downs after a sack on their 27-yard line nearing the end of the second quarter.
After two first downs, the hosts faced a fourth-and-10 on the Sealy 35-yard line and the snap got past Navasota quarterback Zack Dyer only for him to recover, scramble away and find Aaron Nichols for another first down, inching closer to the end zone.
The Rattlers sat on the 2-yard line with only seconds remaining, knowing it would be the culminating play of the first half.
Dyer rolled out and was soon swarmed by a host of Tigers, earning a goal-line stop to keep the score at 8-0 after two quarters of play.
Sealy head coach Shane Mobley cited that play as maintaining the momentum on the visitors' sideline and after a few convincing words, the Tiger offense flipped a switch in the second half.
“I mean that's going into halftime, that could have given them all the momentum in the world and the defense bowed their head and made some huge plays and they made it happen,” he said after the game. “And then it was a little inspirational speak, you know, it was locker room talk to the boys and, for me, it was a calm one, I didn't have to get fired up. I just told them, 'Seniors I need the leadership, where's it at?'
“What I was looking for is I was looking for guys on the sideline whooping and hollering, you know if a lineman got beat who's patting him on the butt where was my running back or my quarterback to say no problem next play?” Mobley continued. “That's what we’ve got to discover, that's where we've got to grow to be a higher-caliber football team and to develop because there's gonna be dogfights.”
Sealy offensive coordinator Chris Carruthers reiterated that the first half they produced cannot be replicated and this game will likely go further in driving that point home.
“I knew we weren't very good week one but it's hard to sell that to the kids when they put up 55 points so after this first half, I think it's going to be a pretty easy sell next week in practice,” he said. “Fighting complacency is probably the biggest fight that we're fighting because once you have some success and don't play well and still score 55 points, from the observer at offensive coordinator, I can see that and tell them that but they're probably like, ‘C'mon we scored 55 points.’ Well tonight, we came out and looked even worse.
“In my opinion, it was a good thing to get that out in week two,” Carruthers continued. “Hopefully we can kind of get things ironed out but we're serious; we can't play like that. We can't, we can't play that bad and play against good teams and think we have a chance.”
He concluded, however, that thankfully the defense is solid and kept the game close, especially out of the second-half gates where a fumble ended in the hands of a Tiger on the third play from scrimmage to set the offense up on the opponent 36-yard line.
Linebacker Garrett Redden, operating out of the new wrinkle in Carruthers' scheme at running back, plowed his way in for his second short-yardage touchdown of the evening to capitalize on the turnover.
Redden and the defense earned a stop in four plays, handing the ball back to their offense that chose to hand the ball off to Matthew Lord on their second play, which paid off by going 58 yards for a score to make the Sealy advantage 22-0 with 7:11 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
That burst pushed the senior running back over the century mark for the second week in a row, finishing with 163 yards on 15 carries, accounting for all but 60 of the Tigers' yardage on the ground.
For good measure, Redden secured another 1-yard plunge, registering a hat trick of scores to make it a 29-0 game with only 1:19 left in the third, closing the scoring there.
15 different Sealy defenders registered a tackle with Thomas Clark leading them all with five to help limit the Navasota offense to 193 yards of total offense and no points on the scoreboard.
After not securing a shutout until the postseason last year, the Tigers have now earned a pair of shutouts in as many chances to start the season but Mobley ensured that is not one of the items on the weekly checklist that he and his coaching staff harp on.
“This group of young men kind of started on defense and they have a pride aspect but we don't preach whatsoever shutout,” Mobley said. “There's gonna come a time period that we may have to give up a touchdown just to stop talking about it because if you preach that, I've been there, you know; shoutout, shoutout, shoutout, you give up a touchdown, and it's like your girlfriend just broke up with you. You just lost your date to prom the night before prom. That's not what we want to happen. But the thing is, is that we don't preach it, we don't talk about, we didn't talk about the goose egg one time this week.”
By the end of the night, the hosts didn’t have a point on the scoreboard and the visitors moved to 2-0, another mark that Mobley chooses not to acknowledge.
“I'm not saying the undefeated stuff, I don’t preach that like I don’t preach the shutout, it's one week at a time and right now, these ballgames prepare us for when they get harder,” he said looking forward to next week’s contest with the 5A Waller Bulldogs whose record may come off as deceiving.
“Right now, the reality is that we just need to keep growing and emphasize what we did wrong, we need to make sure that boys are focused on practice on Monday,” Mobley said. “I know Waller's 0-2, I just heard they didn't win but with them being 0-2 and coming to our house, they're a big school. They just played Brenham, you know they played Bryan, they're playing some legit teams that we're little bitty compared to them. And they've got some cats, I remember last year with the wishbone and they got a new coach and so it's our homecoming so that's where, OK, let a big school come in, now let's get ready for dogfight because it was a bloodbath last year.”
The bloodbath of 2018 took place at Waller ISD Stadium where Sealy jumped out to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter but the Bulldogs supplied a 23-point second half to make things interesting although Garret Zaskoda hooked up with Clay Roberts for a fourth-quarter score that put it out of reach, ultimately ending in a 36-23 score.
Next week’s homecoming matchup, and dogfight rematch, will kick off at 7:30 p.m. next Friday on Mark A. Chapman at T.J. Mills Stadium.
2:15 left in Q2: Redden 1 rush, Parker 2-pt. rush
8:49 Q3: Redden 3 rush, kick fail
7:11: Lord 58 rush, Parker 2-pt. rush
1:19: Redden 3 rush, Avila kick