[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

LUFKIN -- After rushing for just 159 yards in their first two games of the season, the Port Neches-Groves Indians took to the ground in a big way Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.

Brant Halfin and Adam Morse each scored three times on the ground, combining for more than 200 yards, and the Indians pulled away from Chapel Hill early for a 53-20 victory.

Port Neches-Groves went to the ground early and often, mixing it in with a well-run spread passing attack that kept the young Chapel Hill defense on its heels.

Morse finished the night completing 20 of 27 passes for 269 yards and a TD, along with two second-half interceptions in the end zone. The junior quarterback carried the ball for 41 yards and three TD's.

Halfin lead the way on the ground with 170 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns, while Kody Cropper added 100 yards on 14 carries and a TD.

The Chapel Hill (1-3) offense failed to get going for the majority of the night, having a tough time with a larger 5A opponent.

Ja'Braylon Franklin lead the way on the ground for the Bulldogs, accounting for 93 yards on just eight carries. Delenis Garrett made the most of his carries, scoring all three Bulldog touchdowns on just five carries.

After accounting for six of the team's ten scores entering the game, Reggie King was a focal point of the Indians' defense, as the junior tallied just 24 total yards.

It was a rough night from the start for the Bulldogs, who fell into a 26-0 deficit quickly and never recovered.

“The first half was about as bad as it could get,” said Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do in any phase of the game. We’ve still got a long ways to go to grow up to become the team I know we can become. Right now we’ve got to go back to work Monday and try to get some things right.” 

The Indians (2-1) moved the ball effectively from their opening possession, establishing a steady mix of run and pass that Chapel Hill couldn’t slow down.

Morse completed five of his first six passes for 67 yards on the drive, with Halfin finishing the drive from 3 yards out to open the scoring.

A swarming Indians defense, which forced three first-half punts and forced two turnovers, gave the ball back to Morse and the offense, which went back to work.

Morse hit Kaleb Sparks for a 38-yard pass to the Bulldogs' 5-yard line, where one play later he would run it in on the keeper, the first of his three scores on the ground.

Morse and Sparks connected once again on the next possession, an 80-yard drive, this time for a 35-yard strike across the middle.

Sparks was Morse’s favorite target on the night, catching six passes for 111 yards.

Caisen Sullivan added six catches for 62 yards, and Jack Giblin had three catches for 49 yards despite leaving in the first quarter with what looked like a serious ankle injury.

It was all Cropper on the next scoring drive. The junior tailback broke a 60-yard run on the opening play of the drive, only to be horse-collar tackled at the 2-yard line.

Cropper found the end zone on the next play from a yard out, giving PNG a 26-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Franklin’s 49-yard run set up Chapel Hill’s only score of the first half on the next possession. Franklin was dragged down at the 1-yard line, where two plays later Garrett found the end zone from 2 yards out.

Morse closed out the first-half scoring on keepers from 1 and 3 yards out to push the halftime lead to 40-6.

The teams exchanged turnovers early in the second half, with Morse throwing the first of his two end-zone interceptions, followed by a fumble on PNG's next drive.

Garrett scored the second of his three touchdowns as a result of that turnover, punching it in from 3 yards away to cut the lead to 40-13.

Port Neches-Groves drove right back down on the following drive, with Cropper picking up 45 yards on the drive, and Morse scoring his third TD of the evening.

The Indians open up District 22-5A action next week as they host Baytown Lee. The Bulldogs return home to face Tatum.

Port Neches-Groves 53, Chapel Hill 20

At Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

Chapel Hill                         0     6     7     7    --    20
Port Neches-Groves        12   28     6     7    --    53

First Quarter
PNG--Brant Halfin 3 run (kick failed) 9:32.
PNG--Halfin 5 run (kick failed) 4:21.
Second Quarter
PNG--Kaleb Sparks 35 pass from Adam Morse (Brant Dykes kick), 11:53.
PNG--Kody Cropper 1 run (Dykes kick), 9:40.
CH--Delenis Garrett 2 run (two-point failed), 7:32.
PNG--Morse 3 run (Dykes kick), 3:12.
PNG--Morse 1 run (Dykes kick), 1:15.
Third Quarter
CH--Garrett 3 run (Fendrick Austyn kick), 6:26.
PNG--Morse 3 run (kick failed), 2:20.
Fourth Quarter
PNG--Halfin 17 run (Dykes kick), 1:41.
CH--Garrett 3 run (Austyn kick), :05.

                                            CH                PNG
First Downs                            12                   22
Total Yards                           326                 580
Rushes-Yards                  37-254           49-311
Passing Yards                         72                269
Comp.-Att.-Int.                 7-19-1          20-27-2
Penalties-Yards                    8-47              6-30
Fumbles-Lost                         3-3                2-1
Punts-Avg.                        5-37.0           2-31.0

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Chapel Hill, Ja'Braylon Franklin 8-93, Konnor Hitchcock 6-0, Michael Bledsoe 5-30, Kenyotta Henderson 2-15, Reggie King 3-(-8), Delenis Garrett 5-17, Jeffery Minor 2-5, Johntaveon Martin 3-49, Jacob O’Neal 3-53. Port Neches-Groves, Brant Halfin 24-170, Kody Cropper 14-100, Adam Morse 11-41.
PASSING--Chapel Hill, Hitchcock 7-19-1--72. Port Neches-Groves, Morse 20-27-2--269.
RECEIVING--Chapel Hill, Henderson 3-35, Minor 2-19, Marcos Calderon 2-18. Port Neches-Groves, Kaleb Sparks 6-111, Jack Giblin 3-49, Caisen Sullivan 6-62, Keynel McZeal 3-21, Cole Girouard 1-16.