The Blanco Panthers will play for the Region IV Championship this coming Saturday, following a convincing 42 to 21 victory over the Vanderbilt Industrial Cobras.
The win improves the Panthers to 13 and 0 and set ups a much anticipated match up against the state’s top ranked 2-AA team, the Refugio Bobcats.
After an impressive first quarter that saw the Panthers score on their first two drives, the Cobras struck back in the second quarter to close the gap at the half.
Layton Dworaczyk put Blanco’s first points on the board with a 14 yard run to close out a 9 play, 65 yard drive.
Kicker Dal Dechert added the first of six PAT’s to give Blanco an early 7 to 0 lead.
After the Panther defense forced an Industrial punt, Blanco put together another impressive time consuming drive ending with a Derek Tesch nine yard run at the end of the first quarter to make the score 14 to 0.
Although Blanco forced a three and out on the Cobras’ next possession, a punt pinned the Panthers deep in their own territory and when forced to punt from their own goal line, a high snap yielded Industrial their first points of the game as a result of a safety to make the score 14 to 2.
The Cobras would again take over the ball after forcing a Panther punt and put together a long drive ending in a two yard scoring run.
Following the extra point, the score at the half was cut to 14 to 9.
Blanco returned for the second half with a vengeance, putting the game away in the third quarter with three scores.
Senior Kevin Gray found the end zone first on an eight yard cut back.
Gray’s TD was a result of a strong defensive showing for the Panthers on Industrial’s second play of the half, when Tesch and Tyler Berryhill forced a fumble that LB Lance Gottardy picked up and returned to the Cobras’ 11 yard line.
After forcing Industrial to punt on their next possession, it took the Panthers just six plays to score again, as Dworaczyk bulled his way in from nine yards out to make the score 28 to 9.
Then, on the Cobras’ next possession, LB Chase Howells intercepted a pass across the middle and returned it 20 yards to the Industrial 33 yard line.
On the Panthers’ first play following the games’ second turnover, QB Tesch went deep to Gray for the touchdown, giving the Panthers a comfortable 35 to 9 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Although Industrial added two scoring passes of their own in the final quarter, Dworaczyk added his third TD of the night on a slashing 26 yard run to help end the Cobras’ season at 42 to 21.
Offensively, Blanco went over 300 yards on the night behind a strong running game. Dworacyzk would lead all rushers with 111 yards on 13 carries, while Hunter Elrod, Anthony Vela, Gray, Tesch, and Corey Dowlearn all contributed to the Panthers’ 260 yards on the ground.
On the defensive side of the ball, Blanco held Industrial to just 200 yards on the night and only 12 first downs, while forcing two key turnovers which lead to 14 Panther points.
Blanco will now prepare for their toughest game of the year when they take on Refugio this Saturday in San Antonio at the Alamodome.
Refugio comes into the game at 13 and 0 after knocking off East Bernard 28 to 20 this past week.
The winner of this cat fight will take on either Daingerfield or Newton next week.
Kick-off at the dome is set for 6:00pm.