The Blanco Panther football season will officially move into the month of December following last week’s thrilling victory over district rival Lago Vista. The Panthers were able to take an early lead while holding off a late Viking rally to set up this week’s showdown against Hempstead for the Region IV title.
After an uneventful first quarter for both teams, the Panthers mounted a 95-yard drive, taking 15 plays and almost 8 minutes off the clock to score on a diving, twisting 18-yard catch by Weston Copenhaver from QB Tanner Rogers. TJ Raby added the PAT to put Blanco up 7 to 0. After a quick 3 and out and a short punt by the Vikings, Blanco struck much quicker on their next possession, covering 68 yards in just 2 plays and 23 seconds, as Rogers fired a strike to Quinn Dillard for a 39 yard TD. Another successful PAT by Raby pushed the Panthers’ lead to 14 to 0 going into the half.
Although Blanco out-scored and out-gained the Vikings in the first half of play, 279 yards to just 78 yards, Lago Vista finally got on the score board with a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the Blanco lead to 14 to 3. The Vikings continued to hold the edge in offense in the second half as they finally scored a TD in the fourth quarter on a 4 yard run. Along with a successful 2-point conversion run, the Vikings now trailed 14 to 11. On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, a fumble gave Lago excellent field position deep in Blanco territory with a chance to tie or take the lead. However, Blanco’s defense prevented any hopes of a Viking TD by stifling the Lago Vista offense and allowing them just 4 yards on the drive to set up a potential game-tying field goal by the Vikings. With 3:20 left in the game, the Vikings’ hopes of tying the game on a 24-yard field goal sailed wide right, leaving the score 14 to 11 with the Panther offense taking over and running out the clock to preserve the win.
For the game, Tanner Rogers led the Panthers with 176 all-purpose yards while Tim Goodman added 76 yards on the ground. Key receptions by Colton Childress, Matt Pepper, Quinn Dillard and Weston Copenhaver yielded 4 first downs as well as both scores for Blanco, as the Panther offense tallied 13 first downs and almost 300 yards in offense.
Defensively, Blanco held the potent Viking offense to just 12 first downs and 214 yards. The 11 points scored proved to be a far cry from the 48-point average Lago Vista had on the season.
With the win, Blanco improves to 8 and 5 and will take on state-ranked Hempstead this Friday in Bastrop at 7:30 p.m. for the regional championship.