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June 8, 2008

Bayou Bowl defensive players stand out

Throughout the week in practice, the Texas offense found out firsthand how tough their counterparts were on the other side of the line. Saturday night, they got to sit back and enjoy Louisiana's discomfort.

The Texas defense, led by its defensive line held Louisiana to 186 yards in its 24-14 win to even the series at three each. Texas intercepted three passes in the game including the back-breaker by Derek McGahee with 3:20 remaining in the game that was returned for an interception to seal the game.

The Pelican State's 14 points came on two plays following an interception early in the first quarter and on a long pass following a momentary lapse of sanity on the part of both teams in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, the Texas defense out-hit and out-ran the speed merchants of Louisiana.

"We knew through practice that we had a lot of talent," Texas defensive coordinator Jason Holman of Jersey Village said. "We wanted to play two-deep and try to whip them up front, and fortunately we did that. Our quarterbacks found out this week that it is hard to throw down the field with people in their face."

So did Louisiana's. Parade All-American Randall Mackey threw a couple of touchdowns and completed 6 of 8 passes for 74 yards, but the majority of the time he was forced to tuck the ball and try to make the play in the face of the relentless Texas pressure.

The Texas defense, with the help of Louisiana mental mistakes began to take its toll in the second quarter when a sack by Bernard Obi, and a penalty forced a punt on 4th and 37. On the next drive, Marcus Malbrough of West Brook had a tackle for a loss and a pass knocked down and which was followed by two sacks by Blake Chavis of West Brook after a first down to push Louisiana back across the 50 and end a threat. The next first down that Louisiana would get was at the end of the third quarter.


"We've just been hungrier," Chavis said. "I was tired of being overlooked. People said that I was overrated and I just wanted to make my own name, I'm not living on my brother's (Texas A&M linebacker Billy Chavis) name."

The key for the defense was its ability to close off the running lanes of Louisiana quarterbacks Mackey and Blaine Gautier. The two combined to rush 21 times for 28 yards.

"We had a certain play called jet, and they couldn't contain our guys," Chavis said. "We weren't worried about their speed, we just wanted to keep them contained."

Louisiana did break through and make it a game midway through the fourth, when Mackey found Alfred Franklin on a 53-yard touchdown pass to make it a one score game shortly after a bench-clearing brawl. After a defensive hold, Louisiana had the ball and the opportunity to pull the game out for the fourth consecutive game. This time Texas would have none of it.

Gautier, who had thrown two interceptions in the game, faded back on a screen and threw the pass he would rather have back. McGahee read the play beautifully and lived the defensive lineman's ultimate dream of scoring a touchdown.

"I went up-field and nobody touched me," McGahee said. "I read the screen and read his eyes. I can't explain it; I just have to give the glory to God. We just had a stacked defense."



Michael Pineda, Sports, Baytown Sun


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