EMORY — Despite scoring five touchdowns in the second half, the Van Alstyne Panthers couldn't overcome a slow start and a potent Gladewater offense in a 72-43 loss to the Bears in a Class 3A Division I Region II area round game at Rains
“We had some crucial mistakes and turnovers that got us in a bind early,” Panthers head coach Mikeal Miller said. “Our kids never quit and I'm very proud of the way they finished the game.”
Eli Carter had 18 carries for 188 yards and five touchdowns, Tristan Holmes threw a TD pass and also ran for a score and Eli Kates returned a fumble for a touchdown for Gladewater (9-3) will face Winnsboro in the region semifinals.
Jake Carroll had 15 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns, Tymothe Rosenthal completed 15-of-27 passes for 262 yards and three TDs and Cam Montgomery finished with seven catches for 168 yards and three scores for Van Alstyne (7-5), which earned its first playoff victory in six years this season to reach the second round.
“I'm very proud of our team and especially our seniors.” Panthers head coach Mikeal Miller said. “They are a large group and a great group of leaders. We had a new QB that moved in and had great season for us; he was a great fit for our offense and this group of guys.”
Costly mistakes by the Panthers started early in the first quarter as Gladewater was on the way to a 30-7 half-time lead.
After recovering a Gladewater fumble, it seemed like Van Alstyne had the momentum in their favor. However an errant snap over Rosenthal's head sailed out of the back of the end zone for the first Gladewater points.
The Bears picked up a six-yard rushing touchdown from Carter before the end of the first quarter, making it a 9-0 game.
Van Alstyne put together a nice drive in the opening minutes of the second as Rosenthal connected with Montgomery for a 48-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was their only scoring of the first half and Gladewater went on to score the next six touchdowns — three of them in the final five minutes before half-time.
Malachi Gordon started it with a 26-yard run, Carter had another six-yard run and a three-yard run from D.J. Allen in the final minute put Gladewater up 30-7 at the break.
The next three touchdowns came in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Carter opened the half with a 55-yard run and then moments later Kates returned a fumble 26 yards for a score. Holmes found Robby Hodges for a 36-yard TD pass and the Bears held a 51-7 advantage.
The Panthers managed to score three times in the third. Zach Moncier had a six-yard run that was followed by a 24-yard connection between Rosenthal and Montgomery
Holmes interrupted the stretch with a 40-yard TD run to give Gladewater a 58-21 lead before Carroll scored from four yards out with less than a minute to go in the third.
Carter scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter while Van Alstyne added a pair in the final two minutes — Carroll scored on a 47-yard run and Montgomery hauled in a 20-yard TD from Rosenthal.