- September 5, 2021
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Port Arthur Memorial’s Jahmar. Sanders looks to outmaneuver Barbers Hill’s defense during their match-up Friday in Port Arthur. Photo made Friday, September 3, 2021 Kim Brent/The Enterprise
PORT ARTHUR — With the game tied at 28 and Barbers Hill driving for a potential go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter, it looked like Port Arthur Memorial might be in store for its first loss of the season.
Instead, the visiting Eagles imploded with four turnovers in the final five minutes, and the Titans took full advantage to finish off what ended as a 56-28 victory on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
After Barbers Hill fumbled deep in Titans territory with the game tied, Memorial quarterback Jah’Mar Sanders quickly responded with a 95-yard touchdown pass to Ilijah Williams that gave the Titans the lead for good.
Port Arthur’s defense then came up with an interception on the Eagles next drive, and Sanders once again made them pay. This time, he juked three defenders in the pocket, then scrambled for a 73-yard touchdown run that made it 42-28 with three minutes to play.
The Titans capped the night with two defensive touchdowns as Barbers Hill unraveled. Port Arthur now improves to 2-0 on the young season.
“Those turnovers were the turning point, and then Sanders is just so electric,” Memorial head coach Brian Morgan said. “He made some unbelievable plays tonight, and the whole team gets behind him.”
Sanders finished the game with 620 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. He started his special night early, with four of those scores coming in the first half.
However, every time it looked like Memorial was ready to pull away in that opening half, Barbers Hill responded to keep things close.
The Titans cracked the scoreboard first on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Sanders to Kelby Blanchette. Even so, it was the Eagles who held a lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a 43-yard scoring run late in the period.
Barbers Hill tacked on a two-point conversion, and led 8-7 after one quarter of play.
Not long after, the Titans took advantage of a costly turnover by Barbers Hill to take a two-score lead.
First, Sanders hooked up with Blanchette for another long score — this time on a beautiful 64-yard touchdown pass down the middle. Barbers Hill then fumbled the ensuing kickoff to give it right back to Memorial.
Two plays later, Memorial led 21-8 after another touchdown toss from Sanders to Adrian Hayward.
The teams then traded touchdowns, and it looked like Port Arthur would hold onto the two-score advantage heading into halftime. However, Barbers Hill connected on a deep pass play in the final minute, and eventually scored on a short touchdown pass from quarterback Brent Holdren.
It cut Memorial’s lead to 28-21 despite four total touchdowns from Sanders in the first half alone.
Barbers Hill then tied the game up on their first drive of the second half with a five-yard scoring run from Garret Hagler. He was the Eagles best offensive threat all night, carrying the ball 27 times for 176 yards.
Meanwhile, Memorial was struggling a bit on offense, particularly in the red zone. Twice Sanders threw interceptions with Port Arthur threatening to score — although Morgan didn’t fault his quarterback’s decision making on either throw.
Memorial’s mistakes kept things tied at 28 until the Titans finally broke out late.
Sanders finished with 448 passing yards — many of them going to either Blanchette (195) or Williams (146). The Titans senior quarterback also added 171 yards rushing.
“Adversity is going to come, but I just had to put that out of my mind and go make plays,” Sanders said. “Everyone kept their heads and we got the win.”
Barbers Hill falls to 0-2 and will travel to Houston Heights next week.
As for the Titans, they’ll take their 2-0 record into another tough non-district matchup against Crosby.
“We knew what we were doing when we scheduled these games,” Morgan said. “We’re getting ready for district and the playoffs.”
Matt Faye is a Sports Reporter and Columnist for the Beaumont Enterprise. Contact him at MFaye@BeaumontEnterprise.com or on Twitter by clicking here.
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Matt Faye is a sports reporter and columnist for the Beaumont Enterprise.