Tigers tame Panthers in 20-7 win

he Tiger offense huddles up midway through the third quarter of Wills Point’s 20-7 win over Mabank Sept. 14.

The Wills Point Tigers picked up their first win of the season Sept. 14 in Mabank, evening their season record at 1-1 courtesy of a strong defensive performance in a 20-7 win over the Panthers.

Wills Point opened play on offense, marching quickly form their own 39-yard line into Mabank territory on runs by Demontre Hill and Stephon Bradley. The drive would be derailed after just five plays due to an untimely penalty and a drive ending fumble recovered by the Panthers.

Mabank did not fare much better than the Tigers on their first possession, picking up a first down before fumbling the ball back to Wills Point just five plays into their drive.

The Tigers looked to be well on their way to their first points of the night with their second drive of the first quarter, marching from their own 35-yard line to the Panther 12-yard line in nine plays. The drive would ultimately stall out there with another lost fumble keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard.

Mabank only picked up a pair of first downs on its next drive, getting the ball out to their own 27-yard line before being forced to punt the ball back to the Tigers.

Wills Point began to assert themselves from there, scoring touchdowns on each of its next three possessions to seize control. The Tiger run began following Mabank’s punt with Demontre Hill picking up gains on 12 and 43 yads on the ground to push the ball to the Panther one-yard line. Hill kept the ball from there, scoring on a short dive for a 6-0 lead. The PAT would be missed, putting the Tigers in front for good with 10:05 to play.

Mabank ran just two plays on the ensuing drive before Aaron Hardman stepped in front of an errant Devyn Gibbs pass and returned it down to the one-yard line. Stephon Bradley scored one play later and the Tigers added a successful two-point attempt moments later to extend their advantage to 14-0.

A similar scenario would play out again moments later with the Panthers running just two plays before another errant pass by Gibbs was picked off by Justin Edwards at the Wills Point 39-yard line. Following a penalty for delay of game, Hill connected with Jacquez Thompson on a 66-yard touchdown completion. Wills Point misfired on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score at 20-0 in favor of the Tigers with 6:48 left in the first half.

Mabank finished the first half with one more turnover, a fumble recovered by Wills Point at their own 40-yard line. The Tigers could not capitalize on that Panther miscue, however, driving down to the Mabank 7-yard line just as halftime hit.

The Panthers would make their lone tally on the scoreboard during the opening stages of the third quarter, taking the first drive of the half 66 yards to the end zone. Running back Garrett Lander was the catalyst on the drive, carrying the ball six times for 33 yards and a touchdown. Stuart Burns knocked home the PAT attempt, cutting the Tiger lead to 20-7 with 4:01 to play in the quarter.

Neither team could make much headway offensively the rest of the night with turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble, hampering the Wills Point offense. The Tigers ultimately cruised down the stretch, bring their final drive of the night down to the Panther 24-yard line before letting the clock expire.

Demontre Hill finished play against Mabank completing 9/17 passes for 123 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Hill also rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Stephon Bradley also broke the century mark as a rusher, carrying the ball 22 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Jacquez Thompson finished as Wills Point's leading receiver against the Panthers hauling in six passes for 93 yards and a score.

Defensively Justin Edwards finished with 17 total tackles and an interception and Aaron Hardman finished with 16 tackles and an interception. Other leading tacklers included Savion Kellum with 13, Jaden Huff and Josh Davis with eight each and Connor Brownrigg with seven.

The Tigers will be at home tonight (Sept. 21) for a game against the visiting Grace Community Cougars. Grace enters play with a 2-1 record overall with wins over Canton (63-40) and Redwater (75-54) and a loss to Parish Episcopal (56-7).

Kickoff for the Wills Point-Grace Community contest will be 7:30 p.m. at Ken Autry Davis Field.