The Blanco Panthers opened district play this past Friday as they hosted the Rogers Eagles, the fifth-ranked team in the state in 2A. With a large homecoming crowd on hand, fans witnessed a big first half for the Panthers before a late defensive stop by Blanco on a two-point conversion preserved a 28 to 27 victory.
Blanco completely dominated the first half of play, jumping out to a 21 to 0 lead going into the locker room for halftime. Senior QB Sam Isenberg had a hand in all three Panther scores, beginning with an 18-yard run in the first quarter to close out a five-play 70-yard drive. Later in the opening quarter of play and the beginning of the second quarter, Blanco went on a 13-play 74-yard drive, eating up over seven minutes before Isenberg connected with senior Colton Childress on a 6-yard TD pass. Finally, on the half’s last play from scrimmage, Isenberg rolled right before passing back across the field to McKay Adamson, who was behind the line of scrimmage. Adamson then found Childress for a diving 22-yard strike with no time left on the clock. Sophomore Aikman Elrod completed the first half scoring for the Panthers with a perfect 3 for 3 on extra points.
Although Rogers managed just three possessions in the first half, two of which ended in fumbles, the Eagles returned with a vengeance, scoring 21 unanswered points to tie the game at 21 apiece early in the fourth quarter. Rogers scored first on a 14-yard run to complete their opening drive of the second half. Then, with just 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Eagles scored again on a 1-yard run to complete an 11-play 78-yard drive. Finally, the Eagle tied the game following a 20-yard run and a third straight successful PAT.
With the momentum clearly in favor of Rogers in the second half, Blanco struck back and retook the lead on a 73-yard pass from Isenberg to Tyler Brown. Elrod’s extra point made the score 28 to 21. Then, after both teams traded field position on their next possessions, Rogers marched 65 yards in 9 plays to score on a 10-yard run with just 1:11 left to play. After taking a time out to discuss their options, the Eagles elected to go for two and the lead and possible win. However, the Blanco defense was up for the task, as a group of Panthers stopped the Eagles’ running back in the backfield to keep the score at 28 to 27. After the Panthers recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt, Isenberg simply knelt down twice to run out the clock and give the Panthers a hard fought and much needed district win while also knocking off the undefeated and state ranked Eagles.
Offensively, Blanco picked up 14 first downs behind a balanced attack on the night, picking up 164 yards on the ground and 133 through the air. Individually, Tim Goodman led the Panther rushing attack with 70 yards on 21 carries. Sam Isenberg led the Panthers in all-purpose yardage totaling 173 while Colton Childress led the team with 4 receptions.
Although the Panther defense gave up over 300 yards on the ground, Blanco forced 2 key turnovers and 2 punts to end potential scoring drives for the Eagles, who also committed 16 penalties for 153 yards. Big plays defensively for the Panthers came from Britton Wagner, Aikman Elrod and Tyler Brown.
Blanco’s next game will be on the road this Friday when the Panthers travel to Schulenburg to take on the Shorthorns, who are 2 and 0 in district play. This will be the first time since 1992 that Blanco and Schulenburg have met. Kick-off is set for 7:30 pm.