BONHAM — The Van Alstyne Panthers came out on top of a shootout that decided the District 5-3A (I) championship, 78-63, against the Bonham Warriors on Friday.
Neither team had lost in district play to set up the winner-take-all match-up and points were plentiful before both schools head into the playoffs.
Van Alstyne (7-3, 6-0) will face Dallas Madison at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Royse City as the top seed while Bonham (8-2, 5-1), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped, will take on Eustace at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Mesquite’s Hanby Stadium.
Rhett Gallagher led the Panthers with 11 carries for 130 yards and six touchdowns and was 5-of-11 passing for 157 yards and three touchdowns while Jake Carroll finished with 21 carries for 240 yards.
Tyler Rodriguez finished with 17 carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns and was 17-of-24 passing for 240 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions to pace Bonham while Jerrell Stewart totaled nine receptions for 144 yards.
Bonham started the scoring frenzy with a 40-yard rushing touchdown by Hayden Stevenson to take an early lead. However, the Panthers responded immediately with a 80-yard kickoff return by Austin Moore to tie the game at seven.
The Panthers scored shortly after on a Gallagher 25-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Porter with a missed extra point keeping the lead at 13-7.
The Warriors fired back with Rodriguez’s two-yard touchdown run to take a 14-13 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter. The Panthers quickly retook the lead after a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Gallagher and a two-point conversion gave the Panthers a 21-14 lead.
This back-and-forth pace continued the rest of the first quarter with 54 points combined. Rodriguez found Stewart for a 15-yard TD pass before Gallagher had a 56-yard TD run and then he hit Drelin Davis for a 50-yard touchdown pass as Van Alstyne found themselves in the lead with a 33-21 score after the first 12 minutes.
Bonham kept it close with a 15-yard touchdown run by Rodriguez at the start of the second quarter, making it a 33-28 game.
Van Alstyne padded its lead with a 40-yard touchdown catch by Gage Proctor, giving the Panthers a 40-28 advantage. Bonham kept it a five point game with a 62-yard TD run from Rodriguez made it a five-point margin.
Aaron Beckham gave the Panthers some breathing room with a 21-yard field goal and a 43-35 lead going into half-time.
Van Alstyne came out guns blazing early in the third quarter, scoring on a 16-yard touchdown by Gallagher only a minute into the quarter, putting the Panthers up 50-35.
The Warriors fired right back with a 13-yard passing touchdown from Rodriguez to Stewart to make it a one-score game game.
Another kickoff return for a touchdown — this one 86 yards — by Moore put the Panthers up by two touchdowns at 57-42.
Bonham was in the end zone one more time in the third quarter with a 20-yard TD run before Van Alstyne got a 15-yard run by Gallagher to take a 64-49 lead into the fourth quarter.
Rodriguez had a 26-yard touchdown run but Gallagher scored twice more, on runs of a yard and four yards before Drew Abate had a four-yard TD run to close out the scoring for Bonham.
“I’m just extremely proud of our kids,” Van Alstyne head coach Mikeal Miller said, “to come out here and put up 78 points, make key stops on defense when we needed them, you just cant say enough about how our kids prepared and executed tonight.”