VAN ALSTYNE — The Van Alstyne Panthers improved their playoff seeding with a strong defensive effort against the Pilot Point Bearcats in a 29-11 victory Friday night to close out District 5-3A (I) action.

Van Alstyne (8-2, 4-1) finished as the district runner-up and will face Sunnyvale in a bi-district game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Princeton. Pilot Point (3-7, 2-3) fell to the fourth seed and takes on Grandview at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Gopher Bowl in Grand Prairie.

The Bearcats drew first blood after a 15-play, 86-yard drive that ended in a 38-yard field goal by Jaime Tavera.

Van Alstyne answered back two possessions later with a 76-yard drive on four plays saw a Rhett Gallagher pass to Austin Moore in the end zone and a two point conversion completed by Moore.

The Panthers extended the lead on a 22-yard Gallagher run and Van Alstyne carried the 15-3 lead into half time.

During the third quarter the Bearcats used a steady drive that saw Quincy Kemp connect with Ty Hellman for a seven-yard touchdown reception. Kemp ran in the conversion to cut Pilot Point's deficit to four points.

The Panthers had a pair of unanswered touchdowns on Gallagher runs of four and 18 yards in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

“They started the first half a little sluggish and drew some penalties,” Van Alstyne head coach Mikeal Miller said of the offense, “but we challenged them to come out the second half with more fire and emotion, and they did, I'm proud of the way they responded.”

Cayson Miller and Austin Moore finished with a sack apiece and Gage Proctor had a pair of pass breakups to lead the defense.

“Until that 3rd quarter drive, we were able to keep them off balance,” Miller said. “We needed them to play, and I'm really proud of those guys for stepping up.”

Gallagher had 13 carries for 78 yards to lead Van Alstyne while Kemp totaled 24 carries for 107 yards to pace Pilot Point.