Cougars’ turnaround hits 4 straight wins
By Matt Jocks
BEAUMONT >> Hemet and Beaumont went into Friday night’s Mountain Pass League opener headed in opposite directions. By the end of the night, the distance between them only got wider.
Dominant on defense and effective on offense, Beaumont rolled to its fourth consecutive victory, 24-7. The Cougars have turned it around after an 0-2 start, while Hemet has dropped four straight after a 2-0 beginning.
“We got (cornerback) Rodrick Ward back and he’s a difference-maker,” said Beaumont associate coach Frank Fabela. “Mostly, it’s our defense just being really active. They’re just flying to the ball.”
Fabela handled the team in the absence of head coach Will Martin. Fabela said Martin was called away on a family emergency.
Beaumont’s defense choked off every avenue for most of the game, holding Hemet to 4 yards in the first half. The defense also showed a nose for the ball, picking off three passes.
Offensively, it was a slow first half for Beaumont, producing just a field goal. However, the Cougars got a boost from special teams when sophomore Kamari Ross wriggled out of two tackles and then rode a convoy to a 62-yard touchdown on a punt return.
Ross was prominent on both sides, delivering a couple of timely big hits on defense and a handful of big gains on offense.
“He’s just a kid who makes a difference on both sides of the ball,” Fabela said.
Beaumont did put together a couple of scoring drives in the second half, both capped by touchdown runs by Fabian Marble.
Hemet spent the night spinning its wheels on offense, and its defense tried to keep the Bulldogs close. Hemet had a couple of big opportunities in the first half, starting possessions at the Beaumont 41 and 33 but came up empty.
The Bulldogs finally broke the shutout on a 39-yard pass from Nick Thornburg to Kalin Whitfield with 2:24 remaining.
“I thought the defense played pretty well,” Hemet coach Jason Thornburg said. “But we’re struggling on offense. We seem to be going backward. And that’s on me. I’ve got to figure out a way to fix it.”
Photo's by Amaya Stone and Madison McComas
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