Saints rumble by Houston

Powerhouse Malcom DeWalt rumbled by the Houston Sharks in hopes of garnering a national title for the Saints. - Photo by Kent Soule/Hoot Creek Photography
Powerhouse Malcom DeWalt rumbled by the Houston Sharks in hopes of garnering a national title for the Saints.
— image credit: Photo by Kent Soule/Hoot Creek Photography

The same night Chicago hosted the Houston Astros, the West Sound Saints brought a team from Houston up for a national postseason game of their own.

And in order to keep with the theme, the Saints managed to down the Texas Sharks by a baseball-like score of 11-6 to earn a trip to Orlando, Fla. for the NAFL2 national championship game.

Kickoff came 40 minutes after the scheduled start last Saturday at Silverdale Stadium, not too surprisingly, after a long journey for the Sharks of the NAFL Midwest’s Lonestar Division.

“Hats off to those guys driving up here 40 hours,” said Saints’ defensive end Jackie Triplett. “We couldn’t lay off at all on them.”

The Sharks brought up a roster no more than two men deep. Such is the nature of semi-pro football where such wide regional travel normally is not in the budget. The Saints themselves know it is going to take a lot of fundraising to get to Florida.

The Saints were dominant defensively, sometimes bending but never breaking. Texas quarterback Dixie Wooten teamed with halfback Wiley Kendrick to pose a formidable threat out of the Sharks’ backfield, displaying some slipperiness and exciting running ability, but gambling on nearly every play.

Against the Saints, with guys like Rollis Talalemotu, Gabe Llamas, Robert Hodge and Triplett, who combined to sack Wooten a half-dozen times, those rolls of the dice never truly paid off for the Sharks as the Texas offense was shut out.

There were several trips deep into West Sound territory for the Sharks but Texas came up empty in the red zone each and every time.

Even when fumbles, which have plagued the Saints at the most inopportune times this season, seemed to set the visitors up very nicely, someone was there to make a stop.

Marvin Bronson, filling in on defense Saturday, also stepped into the quarterback role for Don Purser near the end of the first quarter. On his first drive at the helm, Bronson connected with J.R. Wells for a 67-yard touchdown with 13:16 left in the first half. Then, a botched snap on a would-be PAT kick turned out not to be so bad after all as Malachi DeWalt ran around the left side and found Jon Rector for a two-point conversion.

The Saints thought they had another score on a 25-yard catch from NAFL All-American Justin Kelly on their next drive but an offensive penalty rendered that play null and void, with Texas recovering a fumbled snap on the next play.

The next scoring drive for the Saints was marred by a brawl breaking out in front of the West Sound sideline, resulting in the ejection of Emmanuel Justice for Texas and Al Glover of the Saints. When play finally resumed, the Saints’ momentum toward the end zone seemed a bit damaged, but Larry Moody still managed to put a 36-yard field goal between the uprights to extend the lead to 11-0.

The Sharks reached the West Sound 7-yard line in the fourth quarter before a Kendrick fumble was recovered by Arnie Otterbeck.

“If not for Gabe Lllamas’s hit, that would never happened,” Otterbeck said.

“In college, they taught us to scoop and score. I scoop more than score but it worked.”

A pick by Bronson sealed the deal on the next Texas drive.

“I wanted my team to know I had their back,” Bronson said. “My safety made his drop, my linebacker made his drop, it was a team effort.”

Kelvin Criner returned a fumble 50 yards for the lone Sharks’ score but Kelly recovered the onside kick to finish off the game.

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