ANNA — Seniors Keelan Crosby and Aaron Lee combined for 318 yards rushing to lead the Anna Coyotes past the Quinlan Ford Panthers, 35-21, in District 7-4A (I) action at Coyote Stadium on Friday.
Crosby rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries while Lee rolled for 130 yards on 18 attempts as Anna’s offensive line paved the way.
On the flip side, Quinlan Ford (5-2, 0-2) was held to 80 yards on the ground and the Coyotes (6-1, 2-0) also tallied three fumble recoveries and an interception.
Senior quarterback Linus Beierschmitt was the Panthers’ go-to weapon, throwing for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for another score in the game’s waning seconds.
His 64-yard touchdown strike to Dustin Fulbright in the second quarter cut Anna’s lead to 13-7.
“This is big,” Coyotes head coach Jason Heath said. “Last year, we went over there to their place and lost. It didn’t take much this week to get them motivated. We had three of the best practices this week that we’ve had. You could just sense that these guys wanted it. I’m extremely proud of them for the way they practiced this week. Not only that, but the way they came out here and played the ball game tonight.”
Said senior Antonio Moon, whose fourth-quarter pick ended a Panther threat: “I feel like a lot of the senior players, they felt disrespected about last year.”
Anna wasted no time in establishing momentum with Crosby dashing 49 yards for a touchdown on the Coyotes’ first play from scrimmage. In the second quarter, five plays after Abner Dubar smothered a Panther fumble at Quinlan Ford’s 25-yard-line, Crosby scooted into the end zone again, this time from two yards out. That short march featured Lee’s 29-yard scamper to the Panthers’ 2.
After Beierschmitt’s deep-ball score to Fulbright, Anna came back with an 85-yard, 12-play drive capped by Crosby’s 11-yard TD run and the Coyotes’ advantage was 20-7. Defensive end Bubba Jones’ fumble recovery in Anna territory just seconds before half-time then thwarted Quinlan Ford’s attempt to answer.
The Coyotes kept up the pressure after the break with Noah Palshaw returning the second-half kickoff to the Panthers’ 23. On the next play, Crosby cruised into the end zone for his fourth TD of the game and, after Emmonte Davis’ two-point conversion catch, Anna led, 28-7.
Quinlan Ford then showed life with a 72-yard, 12-play drive topped off by Beierschmitt’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Jennings. But Crosby and the Coyotes responded, marching 62 yards for their final score — a 10-yard Crosby-to-Davis pass that boosted Anna’s lead to 35-14 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
“We were really motivated,” Lee said. “Last year, we were beating them in the first half. In the second half, we gave up 28 points. That motivated us to maintain our position on top and keep on giving it to them.”