The Greenwood Rangers clinch the District 1 4A-2 title with a 28-6 win over Fort Stockton Friday night at Greenwood High School.
Big plays by Greenwood were the difference in the game, with the host Rangers scoring touchdowns on plays of 69, 42 and 28 yards.
While the loss knocked the Panthers out of district title contention, they are still in a very strong position to make the playoffs.
While Greenwood (5-0, 7-2) is assured the district's top playoff seed, the remaining three spots are in flux. Snyder (3-1, 6-2) is in second and three teams are tied for third: Fort Stockton (2-2, 6-2), Monahans (2-2, 6-4) and Lamesa (2-2, 3-5). Sweetwater is 1-3 and Pecos is 0-5.
Snyder can lock up second place with a win over Lamesa Nov. 2 – giving Snyder wins over each of the teams behind it as Snyder has already defeated Monahans and Fort Stockton.
Fort Stockton could lock up third without any outside help with wins Nov. 2 at home vs. Sweetwater and Nov. 9 at Lamesa. The Panthers have already defeated Monahans.
Monahans plays host to Greenwood Nov. 2 and travels to Sweetwater Nov. 9.
Lamesa is on the road against Snyder Nov. 2 before hosting Fort Stockton Nov. 9.
Lamesa is one of three teams with a 2-2 district record along with Fort Stockton and Monahans. Snyder has already defeated Fort Stockton and Monahans.
PANTHERS START STRONG
The Panthers came out looking like they might have Greenwood's number. The forced the Rangers to punt on their opening drive, and then mounted a scoring drive to take a 6-0 lead.
The drive was efficient and effective. Starting on their own 24, the Panthers ran 14 plays and used up just under seven minutes on the clock. Eleven runs by three different runners and three passes to three different receivers kept the Rangers defense on its heals.
Cole Daggett capped the drive with a 1-yard blast on on fourth-and-goal. Brain Gonzales had four carries for 15 yards, Nick Johnson had 15 yards on 5 carries. Johnson was 3-for-3 passing, hitting Clayton Foster for 7 yards, Jesse Franco for 10 and Derek Hernandez for 26 yards.
Daggett's PAT kick, however, was blocked.
The Panthers defense stepped up to force the Rangers to punt again, this time after just three plays.
But Fort Stockton's offense went four-and-out.
The Rangers took over on their own 31 after the Fort Stockton punt. It took just one play for Greenwood to take the lead as running back Trey Cross shredded the Panthers' defense for a 69-yard run.
The PAT gave Greenwood the lead for good at 7-6.
Fort Stockton's next offensive drive failed to produce a first down. On the ensuing punt, Fort Stockton was flagged for making contact with the return man during a fair catch. The call drew a protest from head coach Mike Peters, who argued that the signal was made too late for his player to avoid contact.
The penalty set the Rangers up on the Panthers' 45. Again, the Panthers fell victim a big play as quarterback Jake Somers turned a broken pass play on second down into a 42-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14-6.
Fort Stockton appeared to be on its way to a potential tying score as Johnson hit Hernandez on a screen that, after breaking free of a near collar tackle, he took 49 yards to the Rangers' 28.
Another controversial call followed, as Gonzalez fumbled the ball on the net ball. He was initially ruled down. But before the offense could lineup for second down, the officials huddled and reversed the call, giving the ball to Greenwood with 8:29 left in the half – and drawing another emphatic protest from Peters.
Erik Bislar just missed an interception on the Rangers' first play. The defense held tough and force Greenwood to punt for the third time in the half.
With 6:20 left in the half, the Panthers moved from their own 21 to the Rangers 39. But the Panthers turned the ball over on downs after Johnson was stopped on a fourth-and-two run play.
The Rangers over came a holding penalty to mount a 61-yard drive capped by Somers' 28-yard pass to Andrew James to go up 21-6 heading into the half.
Fort Stockton needed a storing drive to open the second half and, instead, saw a lost fumble end their drive after four plays and just over a minute.
The Rangers capitalized on starting on the Panthers' 36, taking eight plays including Ryan Snodgrass' 1-yard run to make 28-6 with 7:32 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers turned the ball over on downs on their next two drives.
Fort Stockton's defense never gave up, stopping Greenwood on four tries after getting a first-and-goal from the four. Jesus Rodriguez sacked Somers to end the scoring threat.
The Panthers started their third drive of the half from its own 9. THe drive ended with a punt from their own eight with 2:25 left on the game. However, Greenwodd fumbled the catch and Gonzalez recovered the ball.
The Panthers got to the Rangers' 28 before time expired.
FS: Cole Daggett 1-yard run. PAT blocked. 6-0 2:52
GW: Trey Cross 69-yard run. PAT good. 7-6 10:53
GW: Jake Somers 42-yard run. PAT good. 14-6 8:57
GW: Jake SOmers 28-yard pass to Andrew James. PAT good. 21-6 :41
GW: Ryan Snodgrass 1-yard run. PAT good. 28-6