RICHARDSON — The Van Alstyne Panthers claimed their first playoff victory since 2013 in a big way as they scored early and often in a 69-27 victory over the Life Oak Cliff Lions in a Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district contest at Eagle-Mustang Stadium.
The Panthers (7-4) had made the playoffs each of the previous four seasons but been eliminated in the first round, including an overtime loss a year ago.
Tymothe Rosenthal completed 13-of-14 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score for Van Alstyne, which will face Gladewater at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Emory Rains in the area round.
“He’s [Rosenthal] a special young man,” Panthers head coach Mikeal Miller said. “We are blessed to have him.”
Jake Carroll finished with 6 carries for 89 yards and three touchdowns, Paul O’Laughlin totaled four carries for 65 yards and a score, Zach Moncier scored twice and Cam Montgomery caught five passes for 117 yards and a TD for Van Alstyne.
Van Alstyne capitalized on a Lions turnover on downs, turning great field position into points with a seven-yard Carroll touchdown run to open up the scoring only a minute into the first quarter. Van Alstyne’s carved through the Life Oak Cliff defense to the tune of 339 yards and eight touchdowns on 37 carries.
The Panthers finished the first quarter with a 27-0 lead, scoring three more rushing touchdowns. Moncier was next to reach the end zone with a seven-yard run and Rosenthal ran in the two-point conversion.
Jaden Mahan picked up a score with a two-yard touchdown and Carroll fought his way into the end zone on a two-yard rush to cap off the Panthers’ first quarter.
Van Alstyne picked up right where it left off in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown throw from Rosenthal to Moncier less than two minutes into the quarter.
The Lions finally broke through with a 62-yard TD run by Elijah Sheppard.
Van Alstyne responded by producing a touchdown with less than thirty seconds left in the first half when Rosenthal scored on a four-yard run to give the Panthers a 41-6 lead at the break.
The third quarter turned into a shootout — Van Alstyne picked up a touchdown on the first play of its first drive of the half when Carroll had a 68-yard run,. The Panthers snagged another electric score off a big play with a 58-yard pass to Montgomery.
The Lions picked up their first score of the third with a five-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Lasirton Bryant.
Bryant kept up his strong second-half performance on the ground with his second touchdown — a 10-yard run — to end the third for a 55-20 deficit.
Van Alstyne put the finishing touches on the victory — a two-yard rushing touchdown for Zach Smith and a 71-yard touchdown dash from O’Loughlin.
“We did what we had hoped to do,” Miller said. “Come out and play well and come out hot from the start. I think the kids did a great job doing that they were ready to go for sure.”