New Caney – As the final second ticked off the clock, Brady Pennington walked over to Phillip McDaniel Jr. and hugged the senior.
It was his first Battle Line on 59 game. It was his final regular season game at New Caney High School in his lone year with the program and he had just busted loose, scoring three second-half touchdowns to help lead the Eagles to a 37-0 victory over Porter.
"We were kidding him about Battle Line, you've never seen something like this," Pennington said. "He's been excited about it. I hugged him right at the end and said 'Well you broke this battle line in good.'."
McDaniel's response to that statement – "I had to coach".
The senior, who moved from Texas City High School during the summer, heading into the final game of the regular season had just 24 catches for 418 yards and two scores.
McDaniel posted nearly half those numbers just against Porter on Friday.
An 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the third quarter was his first big play, which sparked the New Caney sideline after leading just 7-0 at the half.
"It was a big momentum change for us," McDaniel said. "Coach said the game was too close at the half and we just had to turn it up."
VYPE Player of the Game: @NCEagleFootball SR @PMcdanieltm talks after his first Battle Line on 59 game. He had 7 receptions for 168 yards, 2 TDs and an 82-yard kickoff return for a TD. #txhsfb @ZChildress9 @CaleSanders11 @dctf @joeagleason @txhsfbgameday @yaahboidj @NewCaneyHS pic.twitter.com/uzdQIbwEi7
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) November 9, 2019
The speedster continued to find the ball.
Later in the third quarter, New Caney quarterback Zion Childress, who finished with 200 yards passing and three scores, hit McDaniel on a screen. Following the blocking down the sideline, McDaniel hit his next gear and was gone for a 61-yard touchdown.
"Tonight he was balling," Childress said. "It was like he was playing at another level. We need that going into the playoffs and I hope he keeps playing like that."
Just minutes into the fourth quarter, McDaniel struck again. On virtually the same play, just to the near side of the field, the senior caught another screen pass, followed blockers and was in for the 29-yard score.
In a blink, McDaniel had helped the Eagles expand a once 7-0 lead to a 28-0 advantage with 10:55 remaining.
"For it to be his first Battle Line game and him not really know what the meaning of the game is and come out and show out like that – he played a heck of a game," Childress said. "That's nice."
McDaniel finished with seven receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns and the 82-yard kickoff return for a score. The senior also had a handful of pass deflections, including one near the end zone, which came on a fourth down play and gave the Eagles the ball back.
"He's very explosive and can go," Pennington said. "He's a two-way starter. He's starting on defense at safety, he's very athletic and a tremendous young man. Really proud of him. Tonight, was definitely his night."
HOUSTON – Never before has so much been on the line.
For the past nine years when New Caney and Porter have met in their annual rivalry game - the Battle Line on 59 - the only thing that has been up for grabs is bragging rights – which the Eagles have claimed every time.
Also up for grabs, the ownership of a four-foot tall trophy – which is a Highway 59 sign on top of a wooden base with the name of the game's previous winners on the side.
This year's winner will get that trophy to display in their fieldhouse for the next 365 days and the community bragging rights that comes with it. But also goes to the winner a gold football as the District 9-5A-DI Champion.
Like I said, never has this much been on the line.
"Kind of felt like it could come to something like this," New Caney coach Brady Pennington said. "What an exciting time for New Caney ISD to have both their high school's playing for a district championship in the Battle Line game. We just wanted to get better as the season progressed and trying to be playing our best ball going into the playoffs.
"What a great game right before going into the playoffs to test your kids."