Although Hallettsville was able to keep things interesting for the first half of play, holding the Panthers to a slim 7 to 3 lead, Blanco only needed the final 14 seconds of the first half to take control and set the tone for the rest of the night. The Panthers ended the night claiming their 12th win of the season while winning the Area Championship and setting up a Regional Semi-final match-up against a strong Vanderbilt Industrial team this coming Saturday.
Blanco wasted little time in finding the end zone Friday night, taking the opening kick-off and driving 70 yards in 12 plays to see Anthony Vela bull his way in from a yard out. Dal Dechert added the first of four PAT’s on the night to give the Panthers a quick 7 to 0 lead. Hallettsville answered midway through the second quarter with a 34 yard field goal to cut Blanco’s lead to 7 to 3. Although Blanco struggled to score following their game opening drive, the Panthers struck quick to end the half, scoring twice in the final seconds. The first of the two Panther TDs came on a 31 yard strike from QB Derek Tesch to TE Travis McClinton with just 14 seconds left to play. After fumbling the ensuing kick-off, Blanco took over on the Hallettsville 27 yard line after Hunter Elrod had jumped on the loose ball. From here, the Panthers followed an incomplete pass in the end zone with a 27 yard pass play from Tesch to Dal Dechert as time expired. Following the extra point, Blanco went to the locker room up 21 to 3.
Although Blanco continued to dominate the game statistically, the Panthers still had trouble putting points on the board in the second half. However, Corey Dowlearn would get his second touchdown of the play-offs via a two yard run late in the third quarter. Hallettsville managed to score their first and only touchdown of the night early in the fourth on a seven yard pass play, however as most of the Panthers’ opponents have seen this year, it would be too little too late.
While Blanco was held to their lowest point total of the season, the Panthers still put up some impressive numbers on the night, totaling almost 450 yards in offense and 24 first downs. Layton Dworaczyk would lead all rushers with 104 yards on 16 carries, while Kevin Gray and Hunter Elrod each added an additional 60 plus yards. In addition, Vela, Tesch, and Dowlearn also contributed to a ground game that pounded the Brahmas for over 330 yards on the night. Through the air, Tesch connected with Gray, Vela, McClinton, and Dechert on 6 of 9 attempts for 106 yards and two scores.
Defensively, Blanco continued its stellar play, holding their opponent to just eight first downs for the second straight week and less than 150 yards in total offense. Although they forced just one turnover on the night, Blanco forced Hallettsville to punt four times while turning the ball over on downs twice.
After improving to 12 and 0 on the year, Blanco will now begin preparations for their toughest game to date when they travel to Floresville to take on the 10 and 1 Vanderbilt Industrial Cobras. The winner will move on to face either East Bernard or Refugio in the Region IV Championship Game. Kick-off in Floresville is set for Saturday at 6:00pm.