VAN ALSTYNE — The Panthers used a strong second quarter to propel them to a 46-36 victory against the Commerce Tigers in District 5-3A (I) action and move to the verge of clinching a playoff spot.
“Our kids played well against a very athletic Commerce team,” Panthers head coach Mikeal Miller said. “ We needed to play solid heading into our bye week and I felt our kids responded well to that challenge. We will take this week to get some guys healed up and get our legs back under us as we head into these last two games and hopefully a playoff run.”
Van Alstyne (4-4, 3-1) won play until Nov. 1 when the Panthers travel to Howe for the Silver Spike rivalry but the team could still earn their playoff berth if the following happen on Friday — Lone Oak beats Bonham, Pottsboro beats Rains and Howe beats Commerce.
Tymothe Rosenthal was an efficient 12-of-16 passing for 200 yards and two touchdowns to go with the big-play ability of Drelin Davis, who finished with six catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns and returned a 93-yard kickoff for a score. And the Panthers held Commerce (2-5, 1-2) scoreless in the middle two quarters to gain the upper hand.
“We executed well offensively for the most part and defensively we did a decent job of containing their speed,” Miller said. “Our offensive line continues to play consistently.”
The Panthers struck the first blow by forcing Commerce to a punt on the opening drive. Van Alstyne marched 67 yards in four plays as Davis found the end zone after taking a Rosenthal pass 50 yards.
Commerce responded with a five-play scoring drive that went 75 yards and ended with a 27-yard touchdown run by Brad Caldwell with five minutes left in the first.
The Tigers pounced on an opportunity after recovering a fumbled Van Alstyne snap. Commerce made the mistake hurt with a 33-yard touchdown pass from J’den Wilson to Ashton Seale.
Davis brought the momentum right back into the Panther’s hands with a 93-yard touchdown on the kickoff return.
Zay Basham broke the tie with a minute left in the first quarter with a 17-yard touchdown run as Commerce took a 21-14 lead into the second quarter.
Van Alstyne then had three straight scoring drives before half-time while the defense limited the Tigers to two punts and a missed field goal in the quarter.
The Panthers scored on a 22-yard touchdown run by Jake Carroll, who finished with 15 carries for 101 yards, to open the second quarter.
Another big connection between Rosenthal and Davis for a 40-yard touchdown pass was followed by a two-point conversion run from Zachary Moncier.
And the Panthers capped the quarter with a 26-yard field goal by Aaron Beckham. to take a 32-21 lead into the break.
Moncier had a 14-yard rushing touchdown with 4:28 left in the third quarter to give the Panthers a three-touchdown advantage.
The Tigers finished a 12-play, 82-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Commerce threatened to get closer after recovering a fumble but the Panthers immediately got the ball back with an interception by Dalton McCaslin.
Van Alstyne finished off its night with a clock-draining 14-play drive that covered 86 yards and ended in a game-sealing four-yard touchdown by Jaden Mahan with a little over a minute left in the game.
Commerce got on the board a final time with the game out of reach on a Caldwell nine-yard touchdown catch with three seconds left.