Panthers’ 2nd half rally comes up short
By Jeff Stivors
Anvil Herald Correspondent
Boerne -- Sometimes, things are just not meant to be, as was the case Friday night, Sept. 27. Medina Valley got off to a slow start and could not recover as they fell 34-17 to Boerne Champion, the previously 6th ranked 5A team in the state. Champion had fallen the previous week to Kerrville Tivy.
Medina Valley came into the game, despite their 1-3 record, with hope as much of this team had been on the field in the previous two seasons as the Panthers had twice defeated Champion. This story would have a different verse though as Champion raced out to a 20-0 lead going into halftime.
The Panthers and Chargers traded possessions in the first quarter as the MV defense continued their strong play. That would last until Champion was able to put a drive together after forcing Medina Valley into their second interception of the game. Working with a short field, Champion drove inside the Panther 20-yard line. On first down, Champion back Tamari Jenkins was able to push one into the endzone from 16 yards out. After the PAT was blocked by a Panther interior lineman, the score was 6-0 in favor of the Chargers.
Medina Valley struggled offensively in the first half as some of the same issues that they had faced in their previous four games seemed to hold them back. A couple of nice runs by senior running back James Gipson, a nice 25-yard reception by Braden Haney from QB Charlie Marsh and a 22-yard Wesley Pardo run were some first-half highlights, but the Panthers could not put any thing consistently together.
In the 2nd quarter, after Champion had scored, the Panthers drove to the Champion 6. On a 4th-and-inches, the snap exchange was mishandled and the ball went over on downs.
On the ensuing drive, Champion went the length of the field to go ahead 13-0. With time running out in the half, MV tried to get into the locker room with no more damage done. In the waning seconds, the Panthers were forced to punt. Champion’s Bowen Fjord fielded the punt on the Charger’s 28-yard line, made one cut and found nobody home, going 72 yards to put a big lump in the throats of the MV faithful. The halftime score found the Panthers on the wrong end of a 20-0 score.
After halftime, the Panthers again showed the resiliency that MV football has long been known for. On the first possession of the half, Marsh led the Panthers down the field with running backs Gipson and Pardo having a 1-2 punch for the Panthers. Marsh, on a play action pass, hit Braden Haney up the seam for a 25-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 20-7.
The MV defense stepped up and held Boerne to a three-and-out. MV took over and mashed the ball down the field, punching it in on a one-yard Gipson run to cut the lead to 20-14.
The Panthers were not done. The defense stopped Champion once again, and MV drove the field, getting a 25-yard field goal from kicker Pablo Sandoval to cut the gap to 20-17, early in the fourth quarter.
Medina Valley thought that they had taken the lead on the ensuing kickoff. The Chargers’ return man appeared to have fumbled and a Panther defender picked up the loose pigskin and raced into the endzone. The play however, was negated. Officials had blown the play dead, ruling that the forward progress of the return man had been stopped and whistle had been blown.
As for the Chargers, they went on a time consuming drive that took up most of the fourth quarter. Jenkins got the TD to increase the lead to 27-17 with just over four minutes left to play. Champion got a stop and scored again late to put the game out of reach. The Panthers’ record in District 14-5A-II fell to 0-2.
Coach Lee Crisp said that the Panthers had many positives to take away from the game. “We grew up in the second half and took a step in the right direction.”
When asked what they did differently to open the second half he simply said, “Same plays, different attitudes.” He went on to say that the players found it within themselves to play better and harder. With games against Kennedy, Uvalde (who upset Alamo Heights) and Memorial after the bye week, there will be no time to regress. “We are going back to the basics,” Crisp said, as he and the Panthers look to get refreshed and ready to make a run at the playoffs.
“One game at a time,” mentality is what Crisp says the Panthers will take as they look towards an off week.