The 2011 Panther football season came to an end this past Friday on a cold, damp night in Bastrop, as the #3 ranked Hempstead Bobcats defeated Blanco 35 to 12 to win the Region IV championship and advance to this week’s state semifinals.
Blanco opened the game with a picture-perfect drive covering 73 yards in 13 plays, taking over 10 minutes off the clock to score on a 1-yard run by QB Tanner Rogers. Although Blanco missed the PAT, the Panthers took an early lead at 6 to 0. While the game-opening drive by Blanco kept Hempstead’s potent offense off the field and limited them to just 5 plays in the first quarter, it only took the Bobcats 5 plays to score as they drove 55 yards to score on a 36-yard pass play with just 6 seconds left in the first quarter. Following a successful PAT, the Bobcats took the lead and never looked back.
The second quarter proved to be a tough one for the Panthers, as Blanco picked up only 1 first down. However, the final 6 minutes of the quarter made the difference in the game, as Hempstead scored 3 times, twice on runs of 10 and 22 yards in addition to a 48-yard pass play in between. With 3 perfect extra point attempts, Hempstead led 28 to 6 at the half.
Hempstead opened the final half of play with a bang, scoring on a 53-yard run on their first play from scrimmage to open the third quarter. Another good PAT made the score 35 to 6. For the remainder of the game, Blanco’s defense limited the Bobcats to just 4 first downs and no more TDs. However, the Bobcats’ defense was just as tough. It wasn’t until late in the game that Blanco mounted another impressive drive covering 93 yards in 15 plays, taking 8:14 off the clock and ending with Rogers’ second score of the night from 10 yards out. Blanco’s pass attempt for 2 points fell incomplete, leaving the score at 35 to 12 as Hempstead ran out the clock to secure their 13th win of the season.
For the game, Tanner Rogers led the Panthers with 126 all-purpose yards and both scores. Tim Goodman followed with 38 yards rushing to go along with 9 yards receiving. Colton Childress led the Panthers with 4 receptions for 38 yards. As a team, Blanco picked up 18 first downs and over 200 yards in offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Blanco limited the Bobcats to 14 first downs and the game’s only turnover, a fumble recovery by Quinn Dillard.
With the loss, Blanco ends the season at 8 and 6, after going 2 and 3 in non-district play, 3 and 2 in district to finish 3rd, and 3 and 1 in the play-offs, making it to the “Elite 8.” Blanco was the last team from the district to get knocked out of the play-offs after Marion, who finished 2nd and was eliminated in the first round, and district champion Lago Vista, whose season was ended by the Panthers two weeks ago.