A steady downpour left Alba-Golden’s Panther Stadium a swamp and failed lighting on the northeast end of the field turned Alba-Golden’s outing against Grand Saline into a wet, dark battle for survival. Grand Saline survived.
A late field goal by Grand Saline’s Jose Vargas in the final quarter was the difference, giving the Indians a baseball-like 3-2 district win over the Panthers.
For most of the game, the two teams slogged it out between the 20-yard lines. Rains made the slippery pigskin a problem to handle the entire contest for runners and receivers alike.
Neither team was able to muster any real offense going. Drives were halted by fumbles, dropped passes and penalties on both sides. A first quarter Grand Saline field goal attempt from 30 yards out was no good and left the score 0-0. After the missed field goal, the Panthers put together a nice drive highlighted by a 20 yard run by Dylan Arenas and another run by Austin Hartley which got the ball deep in Indian territory at the 27 yard line. The Indians dropped a Panther runner for a loss on the next play. Boedie Baker and Zane Smith each contributed positive yardage during the drive, but the Panthers could not score and were stopped on the Indian 19 yard line where they turned the ball over on downs.
The Panthers forced the Indians back to their own eight yard line with great defensive play by the Alba-Golden defensive line and linebackers. The Panthers just missed scoring a defensive touchdown when the Indian punt attempt was blocked, but Grand Saline fell on the errant ball and the Panthers recorded a safety with just over a minute to go in the opening quarter to take a 2-0 lead. That lead would hold up until the final minutes of the contest.
The teams traded drives throughout the second half and Grand Saline finally drove to the Alba-
Golden three yard line where quarterback Zane Taylor was stopped cold by the Panther defense. With 6:02 left in the game, Vargas would get the field goal attempt just over the crossbar from 20 yards out giving the Indians a 3-2 lead and eventually the win.
The Panthers got good field position at their own 42 yard line after the kick-off. The Panthers drove to the midfield area of the field. After a Baker run to the Grand Saline 45, the Panthers were left with a third and five to go for a first down. Jon Michael Chadwick gained four yards to the 41 yard line and the Panthers would get a first down on the Indian 39 yard line with 2:30 to go in the game.
A penalty and a drop for a loss left the Panthers with a third and 19 yards to go. After an incomplete pass and the Panthers on the Indian 24 yard line, Grand Saline held on fourth down and the battle ended.
The loss leaves the Panthers 3-3 on the year and 1-2 in District 10-3A DII. Although the loss hurts the Panther playoff hopes, don’t count the Panthers out. Alba-Golden will need to win their last three games against Troup, Quitman and Frankston to be a part of post season play.