Going into the contest, the Panthers needed the victory in order to earn a playoff spot. A loss would bring the 2023 season to an end, a game short of post-season. The last time that happened was back in 2016, when Permian finished 6-4 and 2-4 in district. This time around, tenacity and pride would prevent such a thing from repeating.
The visiting Black Cats established themselves early and would never look back. Permian received the game’s opening kickoff and engineered a 13-play, 69-yard scoring drive that was capped by Juzstyce Lara bulling his way into the endzone.
The next Mojo possession covered 80 yards in just six plays. Jakob Garcia found Luke Paradeaux on a 10-yard touchdown pass to push the tally to 14-0 through the first 12 minutes.
Defense ruled the second quarter, as neither team made it across the goal line. The stanza consisted of two sustained drives with each ending on a failed fourth down conversion. As Midland dealt with being shut out, Permian took the two touchdown lead into the intermission break.
Opening the third quarter, the Purple Puppies broke their silence and put together a 75-yard scoring drive that was capped with a 50-yard TD pass. It would narrow the deficit to 14-7. The Black Cats chewed up precious minutes of game clock and tried to answer, but were denied at the Bulldog 1-yard line to come away with no points. On the ensuing possession, Midland High fumbled at the Permian 37 as the period came to an end.
The Panthers went back on the attack and converted the Midland miscue into points. Permian produced a 10-play, 63-yard scoring drive with Lara once again reaching paydirt for a 21-7 lead early in the fourth frame. The Bulldogs stayed resilient and pulled back to within a touchdown on the next set of downs, scoring with just under five minutes to play.
On the following kickoff, Midland High attempted an onside kick but Permian’s Marco Davis recovered the ball near midfield. After a short Mojo three-and-out, the Bulldogs had one more chance as they took over on their own 15 with no timeouts.
It would take three plays to gain a first down as the clock continued to drain. Bryan Pry brought the wood and hammered the MHS quarterback for a huge loss on second down. After an incomplete pass, Midland now faced a 4th-and-24 on its own 14. A deflected pass downfield turned the ball over on downs with under a minute to play. The Mojo defense had once again made its presence known.
Permian took a knee twice just inside the Purple Puppy redzone, handing the Bulldogs their second loss of the season and securing a playoff spot for the the Black Cats. Lara finished the night with 167 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Garcia threw for 145 yards and a TD in the win.
The Panthers will enter the state playoffs as the district’s #2 seed in the Class 6A Division I bracket and will host El Paso Pebble Hills at Ratliff Stadium on Friday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m. It was these same Spartans that knocked Permian out of the playoffs last year.
Finishing the regular season with a 6-4 mark is far from a crowning moment for Permian and its storied history, but it’s good enough to enter the second season… and that certainly beats sitting at home like the Bronchos and Bobcats.
The Panthers have just as good of a chance as the rest of the teams across the state. They, too, will now prepare for the Bi-District Round of the state playoffs.
PER – Lara 1 run (Franco kick), 4:32
PER – Paradeaux 10 pass from Garcia (Franco kick), 0:00
MID – Gonzalez 50 pass from Bridges (Crowder kick), 9:30
PER – Lara 1 run (Franco kick), 6:46
MID – Bridges 6 run (Crowder kick), 4:37
|SPORTZ GAME STATS|
Summary and stats – Terry Alan.