Panthers come up short after slow first half

Posted 10/13/22

The Alba-Golden Panthers turned last Friday’s game completely on its head in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a big first-half deficit. The Panthers fell to the Wolfe City Wolves 24-14.

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Panthers come up short after slow first half


The Alba-Golden Panthers turned last Friday’s game completely on its head in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a big first-half deficit. The Panthers fell to the Wolfe City Wolves 24-14.

The team headed to Hunt County hoping to remedy the lackluster first-half performance which was responsible for the Honey Grove loss the week prior. Unfortunately, the sequence of events was too reminiscent of that game. 

A quick look at yards from scrimmage tells a common story. In the first half against Honey Grove, the Panthers gained 51 yards from scrimmage; against Wolfe City 62. In the second half of the two games, the Panthers offense gained 194 and 223 yards, respectively. 

One more statistical note is telling: last Friday the Panthers completely shut down the Wolves in the second half, allowing only 29 yards from scrimmage. 

Football is a complex game and the reasons for the turnarounds at halftime can only be met with speculation. What is known is that Alba-Golden is one of the best-conditioned teams around. That certainly plays a big role. 

What is obvious in both the Honey Grove and the Wolfe City game is that in the second half of each game, the team played with confidence and even a little swagger. That presence had been missing in the first two quarters.

On the opening snap last Friday, the Panthers gashed the Wolves for a big gain right up the middle. While struggling for an extra yard after contact, the ball was ripped loose and the Wolves jumped on it. Three plays later, on a broken play, the Wolves quarterback fumbled the ball, picked it up and scrambled through the right side for a 48-yard scoring run.

The second Wolfe City score likewise came on a broken play, albeit from only 7 yards out after a 69-yard drive. Again, the Wolfe City quarterback picked up a fumbled ball and scooted through the right side.

Wolfe City made the score 24-0 on their last drive of the night, midway through the second quarter. 

The home side was occupying the Panther defensive front just long enough for their big back to break through to the second level. It usually took more than one player to bring down the sizable runner. 

The Panthers just could not get untracked in the first half. They could manage only four punts and two turnovers-on-downs. Dropped passes plagued the Panthers early, killing drives. Even a successful completion on a faked punt came up four yards short of a first down. 

A new Panther team emerged from halftime. Throughout the second half, defensive players took turns making huge defensive plays. On Wolfe City’s first series of the half Jason Langston pressured the quarterback and on the next snap Gavin Terry and Jerry Skinner recorded a sack.

In Wolfe City’s second series it was Cameron Lennon and Tyler Perez who came up with big stops. 

So it went. The Panther defense forced Wolfe City into five punts and one turnover-on-downs in the second half.

Demonstrating some physical dominance, the question became, “could the Panthers overcome being down by 24?”  

Their opening drive was among the best of the year. They drove 75-yards in seven plays. Especially hard running by Donald McVay combined with a nice gain by Glen Hartley on a draw put the ball on the Wolves 34. The score came on a toss from Easton Campbell to Skinner, who turned up the right sideline to the end zone. 

Alba-Golden was back in business at the turn of the quarter, but a fake punt pass went incomplete. In each of the Panthers’ next two possessions, they drove the ball nicely. Once past midfield however, consecutive drives stalled on interceptions. 

The first came on a go-route which was double covered, the second after an out-route was jumped by a defender. 

The Panthers needed a score on one of those two drives to challenge the lead. Unfortunately, the turnovers derailed that effort.

Alba-Golden scored on a well-constructed drive to close the score to 24-14. The touchdown and 2-point conversion both came on passes from Campbell to Hartley. 

After stuffing the Wolves, the Panthers had one more chance to score. They drove the ball down to the Wolfe City 35-yard line before the interception bug bit again. Wolfe City then ran out the clock. 

The season is yet young. With a district record of 1-2, the Panthers can go into the final week of the district schedule at 3-2 with victories over Rivercrest and Como-Pickton.  Don’t count these Panthers out.