This past Saturday marked one of the top performances of all-time for the Blanco Panthers, who improved to 14 and 0 on the year, as the Panthers knocked off the #1 team in the state by defeating the Refugio Bobcats 27 to 7 in the Alamodome. Although the Bobcats boasted the state’s top ranking, the Panthers proved without a doubt why they had the region’s #1 offense and defense. Blanco controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the region’s #2 ranked offense and defense, while scoring a season high against the Bobcats’ defense and holding their offense to a season low.
After being forced to punt on their opening possession, the Panthers returned the favor and forced Refugio to do the same from deep inside their own territory. Blanco received excellent field position and wasted little time in finding the end zone, as HB Kevin Gray sprinted 30 yards down the sideline for the game’s first score. Dal Dechert added the point after to make the first quarter score 7 to 0.
With the Panthers having taken the early lead, the game quickly turned to a defensive struggle until the final seconds of the first half, when Blanco mounted a six play 80 yard drive with only two minutes on the clock. During the drive, the Panthers needed several key first downs to keep the drive alive. Receptions by Austin Deshane and Travis McClinton of 12 yards and 25 yards respectively, helped to keep the drive alive and set-up a 26 yard scoring strike from QB Derek Tesch to Gray with just 16 seconds remaining. Although Blanco missed the PAT, the Panthers would lead 13 to 0 after dominating the first half of play.
Following halftime, Blanco continued its stellar play, while adding to their lead with an 11 yard scoring pass from Tesch to Anthony Vela. Dechert added his second point after of the night to increase the Panthers’ lead 20 to 0. However, Refugio finally answered with a drive ending in a 13 yard run. With the conversion, the Bobcats had finally gotten on the board at 20 to 7 as the third quarter came to a close.
The final quarter of play left no doubt as to what the outcome would be, as the Panther defense eliminated any momentum the Bobcats might have gained at the end of the third. Blanco’s Layton Dworaczyk helped put the game away with a 31 yard TD run midway through the quarter. Dechert closed out the scoring with the point after, but it was the defense that held on to a 27 to 7 regional championship.
Offensively, as has been the case this season, the Panthers controlled the ground game churning out over 250 yards, with Dworaczyk leading the way picking up 112 yards on 13 carries. Vela, Gray, and Tesch each contributed over 45 yards a piece to the Panther rushing attack. The Panthers also managed to top the 100 yard mark through the air, as Tesch completed 6 of 11 passes to five different receivers with all six passes resulting in either key first downs or touchdowns. For the night, Blanco totaled 360 yards in offense and 17 first downs, both of which were season highs for Refugio’s defense, as was the 27 points scored by Blanco.
On the defensive side of the ball, Blanco played one of its best games ever, holding Refugio to season lows in points, yardage, and first downs, allowing just over 250 yards and only 13 first downs. However, even more impressive is the fact that the Bobcats came into the game averaging over 300 yards passing in the play-offs and Blanco held them to just 140 yards while forcing five interceptions, in addition to two fumbles. Kevin Gray helped lead the way with three interceptions and a fumble recovery, while Dworaczyk and Dechert also picked off passes, and Ethan Evans jumped on a loose ball following a Blanco kick-off. Also, not to be overlooked is the four times Blanco’s defense forced the ball over on downs, two of which came after Refugio had first and goal inside the Blanco ten yard line.
After knocking off the state’s top team in the Alamodome, the Panthers will now look to take another step towards claiming the state’s top spot when they travel to Irving to take on Daingerfield at Texas Stadium. Daingerfield comes into the game at 13 and 1 following a close win over Newton. Kick-off is set for 7:30pm on Friday.