Panthers turn back Cumby

Posted 9/23/21

When confronted with dire circumstances, there is only one thing to do: fight your way out.

That is exactly what the Panthers did Friday night at Cumby, and they came away with a 15-13 win.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Panthers turn back Cumby


Most football fans are not superstitious, but they are football fans. 

There was this swing set adjacent to the field at Cumby High School. Although it was roped off, a kid had found his way to the swing and it was repetitively letting out these eerily-long squeaks. A luminous moon came piercing through the upper level clouds. 

It was early in the game. Cumby had come out and forced two Alba-Golden turnovers on downs. The Trojans also had a 7-0 lead. One couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be “one of those nights.”

When confronted with dire circumstances, there is only one thing to do: fight your way out.

That is exactly what the Panthers did Friday night at Cumby, and they came away with a 15-13 win.

Alba-Golden had turned the ball over at midfield. It was then that the Panther defense made a stand. Tyler Perez and Erin Hubbard teamed up for a stop in the backfield on first down. On third down the defense forced a ball-handling error by the Trojans and covered a fumble at the Cumby 47-yard line.

On a fourth-and-1 from the Cumby 36-yard line, Shawn Gaskill then ripped straight through the middle of the Trojan defense for a score. Just before the turn of the quarter, it was a new game, tied at 7.

There would be no strange magic to contend with, there was instead, a whale of a football game. 

Cumby took the next possession and pushed 61 yards on nine plays to take a 13-7 lead. A long quarterback scramble was the critical play of this drive. The Panthers actually had the opposing quarterback corralled on that play, but he managed to wiggle his way free. 

Turnover of the following kick off put the Panther defense back on the field. Cumby took over at the Alba-Golden 32-yard line. It was time for a rally.

After giving up an eight-yard carry on first down, the defense turned the game. Perez made a stop for a 2-yard loss. Shawn Gaskill made the next stop for no gain. On fourth-and-4, the entire defense rose up and crushed the rushing attempt. Alba-Golden earned the turnover on downs.

The Panthers chewed up most of the remaining time in the half with a 74-yard drive. Shawn Gaskill took a quick-popping fullback dive straight up the middle for a 45-yard ramble down to the Trojan 3-yard line. 

It took four downs to find the end zone. Blake Weissert hit Jerry Skinner for a six-yard scoring strike to tie the score with 1:03 to play in the half. A nicely-executed two-point conversion from Weissert to Nick Hallman gave Alba-Golden the 15-13 edge.

The second half was a wrestling match, with each team throwing proverbial gut punches. It was a physical battle which was a bit of a throw-back to another era.

Cumby came out from the break and ran a full house backfield in an “I” formation. It worked for three quick first downs, but the home side could not sustain the effort.

The Panther defense, led by Michael Gaskill, Jason Langston, Ethan Salinas and Skinner killed the initial Cumby drive. 

After stuffing Alba-Golden on their initial drive of the second half, Cumby took over on the Panthers’ 41-yard line. Again using a short pitch-lead out of the full house backfield, the Trojans drove down to the Panther’s 10-yard line. Great pursuit by the Panther defense stalled the drive, as the Trojans were forced to turn the ball over on downs on the first play of the final quarter.

Alba-Golden embarked on a 17-play drive which burned about eight minutes of the fourth quarter. The drive featured a very nice toss from Easton Campbell to Donald McVay, who took the short pass out of the backfield for a 27-yard gain. 

It also featured a signature run by Shawn Gaskill. Taking the ball through a nice hole on the left side, Gaskill strong-legged his way for 26 yards, carrying and bulldozing defenders along the way. 

A third-down sack and incompletion gave the ball back to Cumby with 3:17 to play.

The Trojans drove the ball out to the 39-yard line where they faced a fourth-and-4. In a play which cemented the win for Alba-Golden, Michael Gaskill broke through the line and sacked the Cumby quarterback for a huge loss.

Alba-Golden burned the remaining time and chalked up their third win in a row. 

It wasn’t pretty, but sometimes football, by its very nature, isn’t. It did show that the Panthers had the wherewithal to fight back and to fight back to the point of turning a game in their favor. A motivated Cumby squad provided that test in spades, and the Panthers passed. 

That tempering will be put to good use Friday at home when the Panthers open district play against Wolfe City.