The N. Crowley Panthers returned to the field Friday night to open district play after coming out of the bye week to face the undefeated Arlington Colts. The contest would feature two highly productive offenses and the opening week of district 6-4A play. Coming out of non-district play 2-1, the NoCro Panthers came in looking to give the Arlington Colts their first loss of the season. Yet in one of the toughest districts in the DFW area, all wins must be earned…none are given.
Then game would begin with our offense taking the ball once again and for the 1st time this season, the offense failed to score on the opening drive due to penalties and lack of execution. The Arlington Colts made it clear that our stud WR-Julian Jones would see bracket coverage early and often. So the running game would have to impose its will on the night in order to force defenders into the box. The offensive line and RB-Jailen Robinson wouldn’t disappoint as the chains moved throughout the entire 1st half, yet lack of scores in the red zone in the 1st half prevented us from truly capitalizing on opportunities.
During the 1st half the defense would “shoot its on toes” off as we basically aided Arlington’s success due to our own lack of execution and overall physicality. On Arlington’s opening drive, we aided their 1st score with 2 penalties that resulted in 1st downs, lack of playing assignment football and striking our opponent in the tackling game. As a result the Colts would take an early 7-0 lead. In subsequent drives, our play would improve and we would force punts. Ironically, we still inflicted wounds upon ourselves as big plays from the lack of tackling enabled Arlington to take a commanding 21-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. With the game nowhere out of reach, the defense would bow their neck and hold Arlington to a FG in the closing moments of the half and preventing the game from getting out of reach.
After regrouping and adjusting at the half, the N. Crowley Panthers would come out firing on all cylinders. The defense would get an immediate 3 and out…and our offense would put together a “man up” drive by punishing Arlington all the way down the field for a TD capped off by a 3yd run by RB-Jailen Robinson. Riding an emotional roller coaster, the N. Crowley Panthers not only had an uphill battle fighting the Colts, but the officials as well. Several questionable and obscene calls were made the entire game against us for whatever reasons while the Colts were guilty of the same infractions, yet no flags were thrown. None the less, it was a very much needed lesson for us as we now officially know that we must play in such a fashion that we leave no room for the officials to guess nor control the game. After countless missed opportunities the entire game defensively, we had 6 opportunities for turnovers and we only came out with 2 of them. A margin that must be flipped in order to win games in the state of Texas on a Friday night. NEVER quitting, we would go onto dominate the 2nd half by a 30-17 margin…winning the 2nd half, but the damage was too much in the 1st to recover as we would go on to lose our 1st district ball game 41-30!
Offensively, even though we started slow, we still outgained our opponent and put up 510yds of total offense. Lead by the offensive line, Sr. RB-Jailen Robinson had a monster game as he had 26 carries for 139yds and 1 TD. Jr.QB-Caleb Leake had a productive game as well as he threw for 326yds on 20-32 attempts for 2 TD’s. The beneficiaries of this production were Sr. WR’s-Mark Bailey & Julian Jones. Bailey had a season high 11 catches for a season high 148yds. And Julian Jones had 6 catches for 102yds and 1 TD.
Defensively, Sr. DE-Kearis Thompson would have a monster game as he led the defense with his performance. Thompson would finish the night with 8 tackles, 4 TFL’s, 1 QB hurry & 1 Sack. Following his lead was Jr. LB-Jairus Kennedy who had an 8 tackle night as well, 3 TFL’s, 1 QB hurry and 1 FF. Contributing other dominant performances were Jr. DT-Kelton Davis who attributed another solid performance with a 9 tackle night, 1 TFL, 1 Sack and 1 fumble recovery, while Sr. DE-Jaylan Sharp added a 9 tackle night as well!
The NoCro Panthers will look to bounce back next Friday night at home against the Lamar Vikings in a critical district clash with playoff implications in the balance for both teams. As we move to 2-2 on the season…the hunt for October has begun. In most cases, the month of October always determines who plays and advances to the third season of Texas HS football. The NoCro Panthers will get back in the lab and cook it up for our next opponent as we will press forward and go seize the wonderful opportunity in front of us for this season. As always, until next time…God Bless and “Happy Hunting”!