For the second straight year, the Panthers defeated the Reagan County Owls to claim a bi-district championship and advance to the second round of the state play-offs. Although the Owls would dominate on paper, Blanco would force four turnovers and cause the Owls to turnover the ball on downs two more times to stop any scoring threats as the Panthers would pull out a 24 to 14 win.
Offensively, the Panthers would score in each of the first three quarters of play with Kevin Gray and Eric Collins doing all of the damage. Gray would put the Panthers on the board first with a 37 yard run in the first quarter. Gray would then add the conversion run to give the Panthers an early 8 to 0 lead. Collins would add to Blanco’s lead in the second with a 62 yard scoring dash. Collins would then add the conversion on a pass from Derek Tesch to up the Panther lead to 16 to 0. However, Reagan County would cut into the Panther’s lead before the half on a 20 yard pass play. Although the Owls would fail on the P.A.T., the score at halftime had been cut to 16 to 6.
The second half would start with Blanco increasing their lead once more on Collins’ second touchdown of the night, a 26 yard run. Collins would also add the two point conversion run to make the score 24 to 6 at the end of the third quarter. Reagan County would add a final score on a 1 yard run and then convert the two point conversion pass to cut the Panther lead to just 10 points. However, Blanco’s defense would stop any and all threats that the Owls would pose for the remainder of the game and hold on for their tenth win of the year.
On the night, Blanco would roll up 261 yards in offense, led by Collins and Gray, who would run for 114 and 111 yards respectively. As a team, the Panthers would total only 12 first downs, while QB Derek Tesch would complete all 4 pass attempts for 36 yards. Defensively, the Panthers would give up a season high 28 first downs to the Owls, while holding them to just 74 yards rushing, but Reagan County would do most of their damage through the air, completing 30 of 57 pass attempts for 310 yards. However, Blanco’s defense would come up with four key interceptions by Lance Gottardy, Gray, Layton Dworaczyk, and Ross McCormick to stop drives deep in Blanco territory.
Blanco will now set their sights on the 8 and 3 Ballinger Bearkats, who come into the game following an easy bi-district win over Coahoma. The area play-off game will be in Killeen with the kick-off set for 2:30 pm this Friday.