Lone Star Gridiron

Permian Overcomes Slow Start Against Vandegrift

Stephen C Thomas VI

photos: Stephen C Thomas VI

Mojo Comes Back from 17 Down to Win

On Friday night, the Odessa Permian Panthers made the long trek to Austin to take on the Vandegrift Vipers in the host’s 6A debut. Despite losing wide receiver Paxton Segina (Stanford) and running back Travis Brennan (Navy) to graduation, the Viper offense did not appear to miss a beat early in the game.

Senior quarterback Alex Fernandes (UTEP commit) connected with junior wide receivers Peyton Ausley and Justin Florence for two touchdowns to jettison the Vipers to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

After both teams traded three-and-out possessions to open the game, Permian committed their first of five turnovers when Viper junior safety Jonathan Roth intercepted Panther senior quarterback Steve Steen in Permian territory. Eight plays later, the Vipers capitalized on the turnover as Fernandes connected with Ausley for a sixteen-yard touchdown pass.  On the ensuing drive, the Vipers forced the Panthers to go three-and-out. Five plays later, the Vipers found the end zone again as Fernandes connected with Florence on a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the Vipers a 14-0 lead.

Permian turned the ball over again on their next drive when Vandegrift senior defensive lineman Holton Greenfield recovered sophomore running back Ed Williams’s fumble at the Permian 25-yard line. After the Vipers responded with a missed a field goal, Williams fumbled the ball again; and this time, senior linebacker Storm Wilson recovered the ball for the Vipers.  This time Vandegrift converted the turnover into points with a 36-yard field to take a 17-0 lead.

Despite the rough start defensively, Permian did not back down. In the second half, the Mojo answered with a heavy dose of the ground game. Senior Kobe Robinson capped off a 67 yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers on the board 17-6.

Stephen C Thomas VI

After both teams traded three-and-out possessions, Vandegrift senior safety Morris Aranda forced Permian’s fourth turnover of the night with a second interception.

The Vipers were held to a field goal to open the second half, the Panthers once again went to the ground. Senior running back Jaime Garza capped off an 80-yard drive with a touchdown run and caught the two-point conversion attempt to narrow the gap to 20-14 Vandegrift. The Panther defense held the Viper offense to just two yards on the following drive, but the offense committed its fifth turnover when Vandegrift senior Ethan Flower recovered Jaime Garza’s fumble at the Viper 47-yard line.

The Panther defense held strong again and forced the Vipers to go three-and-out. The Panthers responded with more ground attack including a 40-yard dash by Jaime Garza. After a pass-interference penalty against Vandegrift put the ball on the Viper three-yard line, Kobe Robinson found pay dirt once again with a three-yard touchdown run. A successful extra-point attempt gave the Panthers their first lead of the night 21-20 early in the fourth quarter.

From there, the Panther defense forced the Vipers to turn the ball over on downs on their next two possessions. The Vipers had a last-gasp field goal attempt from about 50 yards out but missed well short as time expired.

With the win, Permian opens their season at 1-0. Next week, the Panthers travel to El Paso to take on El Paso Franklin at Franklin Stadium. The Cougars are 0-1 after opening with a 56-28 loss to Midland.

Vandegrift, meanwhile opens the season at 0-1. Next week, the Vipers travel to Gupton Stadium to face Leander ISD rival Cedar Park. The Timberwolves are 1-0 after a convincing 43-13 win over Waco Hewitt Midway.

by Stephen C Thomas VI
Lone Star Gridiron





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