Friday night’s season opener for the Canyon Lake Hawks and Blanco Panthers was as good as it gets, going down to the final play of the game. Although the Panthers fell behind early by two touchdowns, Blanco stormed back to grab a one point lead and managed to maintain striking distance of a victory until the last play of the game.
The visiting Hawks wasted little time in getting their offense rolling as they took the opening drive 77 yards in 17 plays, eating up over eight minutes to grab an early lead on QB Branson Belcher’s two yard run. Jake Robinson added the PAT, and the first quarter ended with the Hawks up 7-0.
The second quarter saw much of the same from Canyon Lake as another long drive paid off with a four yard run from Eduardo Covarrubias. Robinson again split the uprights to increase the Hawks’ lead to 14 over Blanco. However, Blanco’s offense finally came to life, putting together an eight-play, 66 yard drive, scoring with less than a minute left in the half on a two yard run from Colton Childress. Aikman Elrod’s point after would cut the Hawk’s lead in half, making the halftime score 14-7.
Childress opened the second half for the Panthers where he left off in the first- in the end zone- as he returned the kick-off 80 yards for a TD. Following another successful PAT from Elrod, the score was knotted at 14. However, the Hawks wasted little time in taking back the lead as their offense took just four plays to cover 75 yards and regain the lead on a 64 yard pass play from Belcher to Daniel Camarillo. Although Blanco blocked the extra point attempt, the Hawks were back in front at the end of the quarter 20-14.
After trading possessions to start the fourth quarter, the Panthers took advantage of a 22 yard punt return by Childress, setting Blanco up deep in Hawks’ territory. The Panthers needed just five plays to cover the remaining 27 yards, ending with a four yard run from Chad Marshall. Elrod remained perfect on his extra points to give Blanco a 21-20 lead with 7:49 left in the game. However, the Hawks once again answered on their next drive, going 68 yards in six plays to regain the lead on a one yard run from Belcher. Blanco again denied the Hawks on an attempted two point conversion pass to leave the score at 26-21 with just over four minutes to play. Following a touchback on the ensuing kick-off, the Panthers drove 71 yards to the Canyon Lake four yard line with just three seconds remaining in the game, only to see their final play end on an incomplete pass as the Hawks left with a 26-21 win.
Statistically, Blanco picked up 222 yards on the night, with Tim Goodman leading the way on the ground with 63 yards on 13 carries. Colton Childress led all players in all-purpose yardage with 206 yards and two scores. As a team, the Panthers picked up 15 first downs while committing no turnovers and just one penalty.
Canyon Lake finished the game with a very balanced attack, picking up 176 yards on the ground and 172 through the air. However, the Hawks commited 13 penalties for a total of 91 yards.
With their season opener behind them, the Panthers will hit the road and travel to Comfort this Friday to take on the Bobcats. Comfort opened the season with a 34-7 loss in Sonora. Kick-off is set for 7:30 pm.