Football blast by Panthers in first round match


Photo By: Jose Veliz

The Rockets (7-2) came into Farris Stadium for the first round against the O’Connor Panthers  (8-1) for an exciting game on the road. The Rockets come in with a successful season, but two chips on their shoulders with losses to Steele and Smithson Valley.

“I’ve been here since 2005. You’re always gonna get the best in the playoffs and there’s always a chance it’s going to be an exciting one,” receiver coach and assistant offensive coordinator Joel Call said.

On the first play of the first quarter, the ball was snapped over O’Connor’s quarterback Noel Sanchez’s head into the back of the endzone for a Judson scoop and score. On the Panthers next drive, they converted a fake punt to keep the drive going, but the ball was intercepted by Harold Watson at the Judson four yard line.

After the the Rocket punt, the Panthers would nail a 27 yard field goal to put their first points on the board; score Rockets 7, Panthers 3. The Rockets wouldn’t hesitate, as a pass from Julon Williams to Kevin Luster was completed 73 yards for a touchdown. After a sack by Broady Stoepler, the Panthers were forced to punt, but Sanchez faked it for a first down conversion and 25 yards. Later in the drive, Demarvin Leal sacked Sanchez for eight yards, finally forcing a definite punt. On their own four yard line, Williams would shift the men in the secondary for a 31 yard rush, then Mi’Kel Jackson would take it for 30 yards. But, they would fumble it at the O’Connor 24 yard line.

In the second quarter, Sanchez completed a 36 yard touchdown pass to Jalen Hughes to make the score Judson 14, O’Connor 10. On the Rockets scoring possession, Luster would start the drive with a 36 yard reception, then Williams followed up with a 27 yard rush, and finally Williams completed a 28 yard pass to Luster as he broke tackles and darted up the field for a touchdown. At halftime, the score was 21-10’ Judson on top.

In the third quarter, on another drive by O’Connor, they would once again try passing to Watson’s side, and fail as he jumped the ball for an interception. The Panthers would get revenge with a 56 yard reception by Hughes and a one yard touchdown from Sanchez to Jonathan Tapia. In response, Williams took off up the middle for a 65 yard touchdown rush, the completed a 2-point conversion to Melvin Thompson; lead now extended by Judson 29-17. Now fired up, the Panthers Treyshaen Patterson returned a kickoff for 80 yards and a touchdown keeping the game in reach; Judson leading 29-24.

josev11-4In the fourth quarter, the tensions were high. On a Judson possession, the O’Connor defense committed two penalties in one play giving the Rockets a 20 yard boost. Williams took advantage with an eight yard touchdown rush, giving them a 12 point lead. In the Panthers’ last chance for life, they converted a crucial third and twelve, but they would commit their fourth turnover with an interception by Chris Mills. That sealed the deal; the game ended Judson 36, O’connor 24.

“That’s what you hope your defense does,” Call said. “And you hope they can do that, so your offense can go out and take advantage of that.”

The Rockets will go on to take on the Austin Westlake Chaparrals (9-2), who went on to state last year against the North Shore Mustangs. With this type of an early matchup, you can believe the Rockets are excited to be challenged.

“The better the team, the better the game, so you better believe we’re excited,” Call said.