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Panthers season comes to an end

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VAUGHN – The Lake Arthur Panther football team saw their season come to a disappointing end as they fell at Vaughn in the quarterfinal round of the 6-man state championship 46-34. The visitors, seeded 5th, could not overcome five turnovers and a strong start from the hosts as they ended their season at 3-5.

“Hats off to these young gentlemen,” stated coach Jose Porras. “We had our ups and our downs, but all year we grew. It came down to our last game and, not taking anything away from Vaughn who have a good bunch of kids, when you’re in the game and you know the score doesn’t reflect what is should have been – we beat ourselves.”

The Eagles (5-2) would score on their first three possessions to go up early 20-0 while the Panthers would fail to score on their first four possessions. Vaughn would convert key 4th down plays on all three possessions while the Panthers would falter with a fumble, interception, and two turnovers on downs.

“That’s one of the biggest factors,” explained Porras of the loss. “The takeaways. When you have five to their one, there’s the game.”

Following the third Eagle score – with 8:37 to go in the half, the Panther defense would liven up and not allow another first down for the remainder of half.

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Offensively, the young Panthers would finally get on the board as freshman Adrian Guillen would throw a nine yard touchdown pass to Kyle Palmer with :08 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 20-6 going into halftime.

The second half was dismal for the Panthers in the beginning as they threw an interception on the second play of the half which the Eagles quickly converted to go up 26-6. Following another Panther turnover –this one a fumble at the Eagle 8 yard line – the Eagles used two plays to make it 33-6.

The Panthers would not roll over as they needed only two plays to make it 33-14 as Guillen would launch a bomb to Jorge Rangel from 38 yards out. The Eagles would answer with a long 9-play drive to make it 40-14 entering the final stanza.

Carlos Montoya, the Panther’s lone senior, would run the ball in from one yard out to cut the lead to 40-22. The score was set up by a 41 yard Guillen to Rangel pass. The Panthers would recover the onside kick, but another fumble gave the ball back to the Eagles who would score again with 5:50 to play to make it 46-22.

The Panthers would make things very interesting though as freshman Valdemar Diaz would score on a 33 yard jaunt to cut the lead to 46-28 at the 4:49 mark. Diaz would finish with 110 yards on 19 carries.

Diaz would recover the ensuing onside kick and then scored on a 2 yard plunge to cut the lead to 46-34. The Eagles then fumbled the kickoff return and the Panthers were again in business. Unfortunately, there drive would end at the Eagle 20 yard line.

“This is a good bunch,” mused Porras. “We lose two seniors and the loss in tough to swallow but, I have nothing but good things to say about this bunch.”

The Panthers have a good nucleus returning to give the fans something to look forward to for the 2018 season as they return all but two players.