Update for October 16, 2014

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MV cruises to blanking of Nixon

By Roland Ruiz
Anvil Herald Correspondent

Credit Medina Valley. In successive weeks, the Panthers have found significantly different ways to win and by doing so turned a four-game losing skid into a two-game win streak.

Unlike the week prior against Eagle Pass Winn, when it took a last second defensive stand to preserve victory, against the Laredo Nixon Mustangs last Friday, Oct. 10, the Panthers special teams unit and defense forced the issue early to help put the game out of reach by halftime. Up 28-0 at intermission, MV cruised to a 35-0 victory to improve to 2-4 on the year, 2-1 in District 29-5A. The Panthers now face a 3-2 Somerset squad this Friday evening, Oct. 17. Kickoff is at 7:30 at Panther Stadium.

“I thought we played our best game of the year,” MV head coach Steve Hale said. “The defense was outstanding, scoring and causing six turnovers.

“Special teams played well,” Hale added. “And we made some big plays throughout the game.”The defense set the tone right away, forcing Nixon into a three-and-out on the game’s opening series. On fourth down, the MV special teams unit went after the punt and blocked it. Ken Gallegos rushed off the edge, blocked the ball, picked it up on a bounce, and returned it in stride for a 37-yard touchdown. Ethan Hassinger converted the point after. MV led 7-0 with 10:21 still remaining in the first quarter and the MV offense yet to take the field.

The Panther defense followed by forcing another punt, but the offense stalled, setting the stage for another big special teams play. When MV punted, the Nixon return man muffed the catch and the Panthers pounced, recovering the ball at the Mustangs 18-yard line.

From there, MV running back Kristian Williams ran the ball three plays in a row, including the capper – a one-yard stroll into the end zone for the touchdown. Hassinger converted the PAT to extend the MV lead to 14-0 with 3:28 left in the opening stanza.

After an exchange of punts, the Panther defense struck again. This time, MV recovered a fumble at its own 44.

The Panthers then drove 56 yards in six plays using a balanced mix of pass and run to score another touchdown. Quarterback Brad Griggs finished the drive with a 42-yard strike to Cody Moos, who hauled in the pass at the 10 and spun away from the defender to waltz into the endzone. Another Hassinger PAT extended the MV lead to 21-0 at the 8:30 mark of the second quarter.

MV drove into Nixon territory again on its next possession, but the drive ended with an interception at the 12-yard line. Two plays later, the Panthers returned the favor as Baylor Bippert picked off a pass and returned it 36 yards for another touchdown. After the Hassinger PAT, MV’s lead grew to 28-0 and held there until intermission as Cody Moos intercepted a Nixon pass to thwart a Mustang threat late in the half.

MV kept on the pressure in the second half. The Panthers received the second half kickoff and drove 94 yards in 11 plays to further extend its lead. The drive almost stalled, but on fourth down, quarterback Griggs found receiver Zack Griggs at the goalline for a 23-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing PAT pushed the MV lead to 35-0 with 7:53 left in the third period. From there, the game turned into a defensive tussle and the Panthers held on for the win.

“Offensively we got better and had some big touchdown catches,” Hale said. “The kids played really hard and we had some players step up and play because of injuries.”

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