One of Fort Bend County’s two teams remaining in the high school football playoffs is somewhat used to playing into late November, while the other is getting used to it again.
Either way, the Ridge Point Panthers and Hightower Hurricanes are still playing, thanks to dominating performances Friday night. Ridge Point took down Cy-Fair 41-20 in a Class 6A Division I second-round game at Rhodes Stadium, while Hightower ran past Georgetown 45-29 in a Class 5A Division I playoff at Legacy Stadium.
The Panthers will head to the regional semifinal round for the fourth time in the last eight seasons, while the Hurricanes are doing so for the second straight year following a seven-year absence from the playoff win column.
Ridge Point 41, Cy Fair 20
It was the Bert Emanuel show as the senior quarterback accounted for nearly 300 yards of total offense – the fourth consecutive game in which he has done so, and the fifth time this season. Junior running back Ezell Jolley also had a big night in rushing for two touchdowns – his fourth multi-score game of the season.
Defensively, the Panthers suffocated the Bobcats for most of the night, consistently giving their high-powered offense a short field. Ridge Point forced four turnovers, which it turned into 28 points. Terrance Howard had an interception, while Ryan Ramey had a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Ridge Point (11-1) will next square off with Humble Atascocita (10-2) in the Region III semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26 at the University of Houston's TDECU Stadium. It will be a rematch of last year’s third-round clash, which the Panthers won 55-45.
Hightower 45, Georgetown 29
After eclipsing the 150-yard mark once in 10 regular-season games, Hightower sophomore running back Jeremy Payne has now done it in back-to-back games, once again carrying the rushing load for the Hurricanes in Friday’s win over Georgetown.
Payne ran for three touchdowns, giving him five rushing scores in two postseason games after having three during the regular season. Kaleb Johnson added a rushing touchdown for the Hurricanes, who put up more than 200 yards on the ground for the second consecutive game.
The Hurricanes also excelled on defense and special teams, recovering an onside kick and scoring two defensive touchdowns while forcing three turnovers. Julian Payne had a 65-yard fumble return for a score in the first quarter, while Treylon Beloney’s 85-yard scoop and score essentially salted the game away late in the fourth quarter. Cameron Bradford also had his first interception of the season.
Hightower (10-2) will now turn its attention to District 10-5A rival Manvel (10-2) in the Region III semifinals. The Hurricanes beat the Mavericks 16-12 earlier this season on Sept. 23, and will be looking to exact some playoff revenge after Manvel ended their season with a 31-7 victory in the same round in 2020.
Kilgore 28, Stafford 26
The Spartans put up a valiant effort against the Bulldogs, who ended the season ranked fifth in Class 4A Division I, but a couple of missed extra points came back to haunt the Spartans in the area-round loss.
Stafford’s season ended in the area round for the second consecutive season, and it has not advanced past that point since 2016. The Spartans finished the 2021 season with a 7-5 record.