Posted Date: 12/03/2017
LUBBOCK _ Well, this is the city where offensive mad scientist Mike Leach made scoring points like crazy a the norm.
Maybe that explains the Panhandle Panthers Saturday.
Panhandle cranked out 34 points against Stamford in the second quarter alone of this Class 2A Division I regional final on Lowrey Field at PlainsCapital Park.
Panhandle used those 34 points, one of the touchdowns a fumble return followed by some entertaining dance moves by lineman Garrett Barnett, as the catalyst to a 48-point first half and eventually an utterly impressive 63-29 victory.
And this game was predicted to be a tight one.
“I was expecting a slugfest,” Barnett said.
For a quarter it looked that way as Stamford and Panhandle offenses dominated the action trading a pair of touchdowns settling in for a 14-14 tie and what looked like back-and-forth game heading into the second quarter.
But Panhandle, sparked by Barnett’s 47-yard fumble return and the gritty running and accurate passing of junior quarterback Braden Durst, reeled off 27 points to open the second quarter building a 41-14 lead with 2:21 to play in the half that was never threatened.
Durst, who ran for Panhandle’s first two scores on runs of 63 and 25 in the first quarter, was a prickly thorn in the side of Stamford all game tossing three touchdown passes in the second quarter to Luke Ray (53 yards), Mason Reynolds (11 yards) and Dusty Hughey (8 yards with no time left in the half) igniting the game-deciding quarter.
Durst was asked if he was surprised by the 32-point margin of victory.
“Well, I didn’t expect to lose,” Durst said, who finished with monster stats rushing for a game-high 182 yards out of the shotgun and completing 17-of-24 passes for 333 yards and five touchdowns. “We just play our hearts out and we play hard.”
That was obvious throughout as the Panhandle defense came up with six turnovers - two of those interceptions by Durst - and its aggressiveness limited dangerous
No turnover was bigger than defensive lineman Barnett, who scooped up a fumble at the Panhandle 44-yard line caused by Panhandle defensive end Gage Hughey.
Barnett escaped the traffic in a hurry and found the end zone without only Stamford players in his rearview mirror. Barnett then danced earning a celebration flag.
But the damage was done.
“That was a momentum changer,” said Panhandle coach Dane Ashley. “I didn’t mind the flag.”
Barnett’s hustle play arrived 28 seconds after Panhandle’s previous touchdown and put ahead 27-14.
“Score. Don’t get caught by some fast guy,” said Barnett of what he was thinking while scoring his first touchdown since junior high. “Instead of falling on it I was like I’m going to go score. I’m going to go score. And just took off running. … Big guys don’t get in the end zone very often and I wanted to give my team a little fire. I knew I was going to get a flag. I said to heck with it.”
Panhandle made sure a let down would not happen after holding a 48-21 lead when 49 seconds into the second half Ray made a strong leaping catch of a Durst long ball and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown and 54-21 lead.
Ray beat up Stamford’s secondary for 210 yards and six receptions and three touchdowns.
Panhandle finished with 533 yards of offense and its most points of the season at 63 much to the pleasure of Panhandle coach Ashley.
“I kind of expected this type of high scoring game because they were going to be hard to stop,” said Ashley, who has the Panthers in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. “But what I did know we are in outstanding shape. We run 150’s at the end every day after practice. I knew if we could just not turn the football over and not give up huge players we could wear them down. That’s what happened in the second quarter, they just got worn down because they an incredibly athletic football team. And we heard the scouting report said Durst can’t throw. He proved can throw and he can obviosuly run. He has taken his game to a new level.
“Bottom line is we just outplayed them. That’s all you can ask from your kids.”
P—Braden Durst 63 run (Garrett Barnett kick), 9:31
S—Steven Johnson 1 run (Caden Mathis kick), 7:34
P—Durst 25 run (Barnett kick), 4:26
S—Peyton Bevel 37 run (Mathis kick), 1:11
P—Luke Ray 53 pass from Durst (kick failed), 11:30
P—Garrett Barnett 47 fumble return (Barnett kick), 11:12
P—Jayde Edwards 4 run (Barnett kick), 7:56
P—Mason Reynolds 11 pass from Durst (Barnett kick), 2:21
S—Johnson 2 run (Mathis kick), 1:00
P—Dusty Hughey 8 pass from Durst (Barnett kick), 0:00
P—Ray 75 pass from Durst (Barnett kick), 11:11
P—Ray 37 pass from Durst (Barnett kick), 3:50
First Downs 24 15
Rushing Yards 200 92
Passing Yards 333 166
Total Yards 533 258
C-A-I 17-24-0 11-36-4
Punts-Avg. 5-33.4 2-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 7-65 2-14
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS (leaders)
Panhandle — Braden Durst 21-182; Jayden Shaver 6-8; Houston Heck 9-10; Ethan Shadid 2-2. Stamford — Peyton Bevel 9-41; Steven Johnson 13-49; Caden Mathis 1-(-)3.
PASSING Panhandle — Braden Durst 17-24-0—333; Stamford — Peyton Bevel 11-35-3—166; Tre Mitchell 0-1-1—0.
RECEIVING Panhandle — Luke Ray 6-210; Jayden Shaver 3-29; Mason Reynolds 4-29; Dusty Hughey 2-49. Stamford — Lonnie Applin 5-123; Steven Johnson 4-23; Rudy Guiterrez 1-17; Kaleb Flick 1-3.
Panhandle 63, Stamford 29
Records: Panhandle improves to 9-4. Stamford ends its season at 10-3.
Noteworthy: Panhandle scored 34 points in the second quarter. Stamford had allowed 28 points in its two playoff wins.
Next Up: Panhandle plays district rival Stratford in a Class 2A, Division I state quarterfinal game at a time and place to be determined.