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Panther comeback falls short,
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
NACOGDOCHES–Mabank’s Panthers scored twice in the final
two minutes to put a severe scare into the top-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes,
who held on to record a narrow 35-28 Division I regional championship
Gilmer (12-0) advances to meet Dallas Roosevelt (11-1) in a
quarterfinals contest at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Mesquite’s
Mabank finished its season at 6-6, garnering the school’s first playoff
win in 28 years.
Gilmer defender Brennan Thompson (mostly hidden) pushes Mabank Panther
quarterback Kolton Browning (14, with ball) out of bounds after a
seven-yard gain to the Buckeye 33. One play later, Browning hit Haydon
Blair with a 28-yard touchdown pass to bring the Panthers within a
touchdown of the top-ranked Buckeyes Saturday.
Coming into the contest, the Buckeyes had averaged
more than 50 points a game and had beaten all their opponents by at
least 28 points or more, but the Panthers held them to their lowest
point output of the season and came within an onside kick recovery of
threatening to tie the game.
Had it been warm enough, the Buckeyes would have been sweating bullets
after the Panthers swarmed back from a 35-14 deficit.
Given the miserable weather conditions – temperatures in the upper 30s,
a strong north wind and driving rain – it was surprising that neither
team suffered a turnover during the hard-hitting contest.
Following an opening exchange of punts, the Buckeyes used a big play to
draw first blood.
Oklahoma commit Justin Johnson, who had gotten zilch on his first two
carries, took an inside handoff, bounced outside and splashed up the
Gilmer sideline for an 85-yard touchdown.
The Buckeyes, who were facing the wind, faked the PAT kick, as Johnson
dashed over for a two-point conversion to put Gilmer up 8-0 with 7:41
left in the first quarter.
Following another exchange of punts, the Panthers finally started
marching on their third possession, taking 13 plays to go 73 yards for
their first touchdown.
Junior quarterback Kolton Browning keyed the march, hitting Haydon Blair
for 21 on third-and-13, hitting Blake Rambo for a gain of 14 on the next
play, and converting a fourth-and-eight situation by finding Dewayne
Hamilton for an 18-yard gain to the Gilmer 21.
Browning converted a third-and-10 with an 11-yard gallop to the Buckeye
10, and took three carries to cover the remaining distance, moving the
pile forward just enough to score from a yard out on the first play of
the second quarter.
Browning (who finished with 72 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries,
and hit 28-of-39 passes for 279 yards and three TDs) passed to Jake
Birch for a two-point conversion, tying the score at 8-all.
“I wouldn’t trade Kolton for any quarterback in the state,” Panther head
coach Jimmy Cantrell said later. “He just keeps amazing me.”
Gilmer came back with another big play, as quarterback Darian Godfrey
hit wideout Houston Tuminello for a 30-yard gain to the Panther 35.
The Panther defense then clamped down, as the Buckeyes stalled at the
Mabank 28 on a no-gain run by Godfrey and two straight incompletions.
It was time for the Panthers to come up with a big play of their own.
Browning hit Hamilton (five catches, 55 yards) over the middle for a
gain of 15, but then the Panthers were flagged for holding.
Facing second-and-14, Browning aired it out for Birch (four catches, 96
yards), who gathered it in and hotfooted up the Gilmer sideline for a
Sophomore kicker Michael Blackburn’s PAT kick hit the right upright and
bounced out, leaving the Panthers ahead 14-8 with 8:34 left in the first
“Kolton has big ol’ hands that wrap around the football,” Cantrell said.
“We practice with wet balls all the time – we practiced a lot last week,
because we knew the weather would be like that.
“That ball was hard to catch, especially the way he (Browning) throws
it,” Cantrell added. “Our offensive line and receivers did a great job.”
Gilmer responded with a lengthy march of their own, moving 67 yards in
Key plays in the drive included two runs by Godfrey, an 11-yard scramble
to the Mabank 40, and two plays later, a 15-yard run up the middle after
Godfrey dropped the shotgun snap.
Johnson (26 carries, 244 yards, three TDs) got the touchdown on a nifty
23-yard run to the right, carrying a couple of Panther defenders the
final five yards.
“(Johnson) is bigger than anyone we have on defense, aside from the
defensive line,” Cantrell said.
Adan Olivares added the PAT kick to give the Buckeyes back the lead,
15-14, and that’s where things stood at halftime.
During halftime, the rain became heavier, and during the second half
continued to pelt down on the 500 or so shivering fans huddled under
umbrellas and tarps at Homer Bryce Stadium.
Mabank opened the second half with a punt.
What appeared to be a first-down pass to Rambo was waived off, as the
officials ruled Browning was a step past the line of scrimmage when he
threw the ball.
“That took a little air out of our sails,” Cantrell said later. “If we
had picked that one up, it would have been a completely different game.”
As it was, the Panthers were forced to kick, and the punt against the
wind only went 18 yards, giving the Buckeyes outstanding field position
at the Panther 37.
It took Gilmer four plays to capitalize on the short field, as Johnson
dashed through the Panther defense for his third TD from 21 yards out.
Olivares’ second PAT kick made it 22-14 with 8:25 left in the third
The Panthers responded with a lengthy march, moving from their 36 to the
Buckeye 17 in 12 plays, including a 14-yard pass to Hamilton to convert
a fourth-and-six situation.
On fourth-and-eight, Browning was sacked by Gilmer sophomore Mikey
Wilson for a loss of 12, giving the Buckeyes possession at their 29.
Gilmer then forged a 71-yard scoring march in 12 plays, which included
the only pass the Buckeyes attempted in the second half.
Key plays in the drive included back-to-back runs of 15 and 17 yards by
Johnson, followed by another 17-yard run up the middle to convert a
Godfrey got the touchdown with a one-yard plunge, and Olivares’ PAT kick
gave the Buckeyes a respectable 29-14 lead with 10:23 left to play.
Mabank stalled at the Gilmer 37 on their next possession, and Godfrey
made the Buckeyes’ play of the day on second-and-six, picking up a
dropped shotgun snap and scrambling up the Gilmer sideline for a 45-yard
Olivares’ PAT kick was wide left, but the Buckeyes had a seemingly
insurmountable 35-14 lead with just 4:37 left to play.
It was time for the Panthers to go into high gear behind Browning, who
hit 6-of-9 passes and added runs of seven and four yards to move Mabank
65 yards in 13 plays, taking just over two minutes of game time.
“The wind was a big factor, especially in the second half, when
everything was water-soaked,” Cantrell said. “Even though we had six
balls, the way it was raining, everything got soaked.”
Key plays in the march included a 17-yard pass to Birch, and three
receptions by Blair (nine catches, 93 yards, two TDs), covering nine and
12 yards, and the scoring play, a one-yard pass.
Blackburn’s PAT kick made it a 35-21 game with 1:52 left, and the Gilmer
fans really began to worry when the Panthers recovered an onside kick to
give them possession at the Buckeye 46.
It took the Panthers just five plays and 41 seconds to score again, as
Browning hit Blair coming across the middle of the end zone from 28
A false-start penalty backed the Panthers up on the PAT try, but
Blackburn nailed it anyway, and Mabank was in striking distance at 35-28
with 1:10 to play and one time out left.
Gilmer called a time out before the kickoff to make sure their “hands”
team was in place, and the Buckeyes recovered the onside kick attempt at
the midfield stripe.
The Panthers could only stop the clock once more, as Godfrey knelt three
times to run out the final 1:08.
Busby wins steer undecorating
Monitor Staff Reports
TERRELL–Mabank High School student Kelsie Busby won the steer
undecorating competition at the 10th Lone Star High School Rodeo
Association’s event of the season.
Busby also placed ninth in poles during the rodeo, held at Wade’s Arena
in Terrell Nov. 10.
Marcus Emmons of Eustace High School took forth place in calf roping and
received a no time in boys ribbon roping.
Nicole Harrison of Kemp High School and Bethany Norman of Mabank High
School both competed in barrels.
Harrison also took 13th place in poles.
Josh McClintock of Kemp High School received a no time in bareback
Dustin Jackson of Mabank High School took fifth place in calf roping,
received a no time in team roping as the header, took fifth place in
team roping as the heeler and a no time in boys ribbon roping.
Lady Panthers nip Lady Vandals,
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Mabank’s Lady Panthers handed the Van Lady Vandals
their first loss of the season, 55-52, Nov. 20.
5-2 on the season, the Lady Panthers were scheduled to begin play in the
Wills Point Lady Tiger Invitational tournament Thursday (today).
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Van’s Taralyn German (middle) passes the ball out to a teammate after
getting trapped by Mabank Lady Panthers Chelsea Alldredge (right) and
Miranda Groom during Mabank’s 55-52 win over the visiting Lady Vandals
Tuesday, Dec. 4, the Mabank girls will go on the road,
visiting Royse City, and then traveling to Cross Roads Friday, Dec. 7,
before returning home Tuesday, Dec. 11, to host Wills Point.
Both the Lady Panthers and Lady Vandals posted strong runs during the
bruising contest, which featured strong defense on both sides.
Mabank’s quickness enabled them to open a 26-11 first-quarter lead, but
the Lady Vandals began a comeback that saw them outscore the Lady
Panthers 29-18 during the middle two quarters.
The Lady Vandals pulled within two points at 38-36 in the third quarter,
but the Lady Panthers pushed their lead back out to four, 44-40, heading
into the fourth quarter.
In the final stanza, the Lady Panthers held off the Van comeback to win
by three points.
Jeanice Mojica led the Lady Panthers with 13 points, as Kelsi Reynolds
scored 12 (all on four 3-point goals) and Miranda Groom added 10 points.
Chelsey Dillon added three points, while Ashley Corter, Lauren Hamilton
and Sam Goss all scored two points each, and Hali Schultz chipped in a
Shannon Hullum led the Lady Vandals with 13 points, as both Sarah
Milenski (two treys) and Nicole Black scored 12 points each.
The Lady Vandals also got four points each from Lauren Graham and Seleah
Wilkinson, along with two points each from Taralyn German, Cheyenne
Massey, Chasity Smith and Brittany Wood.
Mabank and Van split the sub-varsity games, as Mabank won the junior
varsity contest 45-8, while Van won the freshman game 33-30.
Nov. 29-Dec. 1
MHS @ Wills Point tourn.
KHS @ Edgewood tourn.
EHS Roundball Roundup
MHS @ Royse City
KHS @ Quitman
EHS vs LaPoynor
MHS @ Cross Roads
KHS @ Fairfield tourn.
EHS @ ET Shoot-Out
Nov. 29-Dec. 1
MHS hosts CC Shoot-out
KHS @ Quinlan Ford tourn.
EHS @ Edgewood tourn.
MHS @ Rains
KHS vs Scurry-Rosser
EHS vs LaPoynor
MHS vs Scurry-Rosser
KHS @ Fairfield tourn.
EHS @ ET Shoot-Out