Panthers stymie Tigers in district opener

Players and cheerleaders stand in front of the Tiger Band for the playing of the school song following play against Bullard Oct. 12.




The Wills Point Tigers entered last week's game against the Bullard Panthers riding high, having won each of their previous 10 district contests. The streak would not reach 11 as Bullard scored 20 unanswered points in the first quarter en route to a 53-13 win over the Tigers.

Bullard did a solid job limiting Wills Point's usually potent rushing attack in the contest, holding the Tigers to just 169 yards and 29 carries in the contest. In contrast, the Panthers finished with 559 yards overall, including 374 on the ground.

The Tigers opened play against Bullard of offense, getting a 32-yard completion from Demontre Hill to Justin Perez to move the ball into Panther territory. Disaster struck on the very next play with Wills Point fumbling the ball to the Panthers.

Bullard would capitalize just five plays later, marching down the field before taking the lead on a Reece Ricketts 29-yard run. Bullard’s two-point conversation would be missed, keeping the score 6-0 in favor of the Panthers with 9:55 left in the opening quarter.

Things went from bad to worse on the ensuing kickoff with Wills Point fumbling the ball a second time only to have Bullard recover at the Tiger 30-yard line. Five plays later the Panthers doubled their lead as Landry Lasseter scored from two yards out. Lasseter also converted the two-point conversion attempt to push Bullard’s lead to 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.

Wills Point fared somewhat better on their next possession, running three plays without a turnover before being forced to punt the ball back to the Panthers.

Bullard would once again find the end zone on their third drive of the night, marching 68 yards in 11 plays for another score. Landry Lasseter helped cap the drive with a 29-yard strike to Nicholas Hooley. The Panthers were stopped on their two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score at 20-0 with 3:55 left in the opening frame.

Neither team could make any headway offensively during the rest of the quarter with Wills Point and Bullard trading punts.

The Panthers would put an end to the scoring drought early in the second quarter completing a nine-play, 62-yard touchdown drive on a Lasseter one-yard run. The Tiger defense stopped Lasseter on his two-point attempt, leaving the score at 26-0 with 9:15 left in the quarter.

Bullard would recover the following kickoff at the Tiger 48-yard run, keeping the pressure on the Wills Point defense.

The Panthers would go on to string together an 11-play, 52-yard touchdown drive to push Wills Point into a 32-0 deficit with 4:36 left before halftime.

The Tigers rallied back to get their first score of the night before halftime, putting together a 54-yard touchdown drive of their own to get on the scoreboard. Runs by Demontre Hill and Stephon Bradley, and a nine-yard completion from Hill to Jaquez Thompson moved the ball down the Bullard one-yard line with less than three minutes to play. Bradley would punch it in from there, and Alberto Ibarra added the PAT to cut the deficit to 32-7.

The Panthers continued their dominant opening half with time winding down, putting together a five-play, 65-yard scoring drive for another touchdown with 39.9 seconds left to play. The biggest play of the drive was a 56-yard touchdown completion from Lasseter to Nicholas Hooley. Wills Point stuffed Bullard’s two-point conversion attempt short of the end zone to keep the score at 38-7.

Wills Point’s final drive of the first half would play out in a similar fashion as the first possession as Dakota Simmons stepped in front of an errant pass to force a Tiger turnover.

With the game well in hand, Bullard would score two more touchdowns in the second half including a 19-yard completion from Lasseter to Christian Moore and a 14-yard completion from Lasseter to Nicholas Hooley to make the score 53-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Wills Point would cut into the deficit late in the final frame as Demontre Hill ran it in from 12 yards out to make the final score 53-13.  

Demontre Hill finished as Wills Point's leading rusher with 13 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. Hill also completed 7/17 passes for 73 yards and two interceptions.

Stephon Bradley added 12 carries for 45 yards and another score, and Jaquez Thompson finished with a team-leading four receptions for 38 yards, while also adding one carry for nine yards and going 1/1 passing for 32 yards.

Defensive leaders for the Tigers included Justin Edwards posting 16 tackles, Ethan Stewart 13, Savion Kellum 12, Angel Crew, Jaden Huff and Klayton Spencer with 11 each, and Dylan Autry, Aaron Hardman and Preston Binder with 10 each.

The Tigers, now 3-3 on the season and 0-1 in District 7-4A play, were slated to be home this evening (Oct. 19) for a game against the 2-5, 1-0 Brownsboro Bears. Brownsboro's rushing attack was in high gear during their first district game of the season as the Bears sliced and diced their way through the Canton Eagles for a 62-41 win.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Ken Autry Davis Field.