PALESTINE – The Westwood Panthers ended their season Friday night with a 23-16 loss at the hands of the Huntington Red Devils.
The Panthers fell into a 14-point hole in the opening quarter in part to a pair of touchdowns from Huntington quarterback Elijah Mansfield – the first coming on a pass to Blaine Trekell and the second on a 25-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers were within striking distance early in the second quarter before quarterback Coy Elton threw a costly interception inside their opponent's 15-yard line.
Huntington appeared to be in position to take complete control of the game as they began their drive with eight minutes left until half.
The Red Devils got down inside the redzone before a fumble and recovery by Aaron Johnson halted their drive.
Unfortunately, Westwood was unable to capitalize before half.
The Panthers did leave the locker room with a different energy entering the second half. The first highlight of the final half came from Westwood's Kameron Savage who caused a safety for their first points of the game.
However, the Panthers were unable to keep momentum on their side. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff gifted the ball back to the Red Devils.
That drive would end on a Luke Smith eight-yard touchdown run. The scoring drive was highlighted by a pair of fourth-down conversions, which included a fake punt on fourth-and-7.
Later in the quarter, the Panthers were finally able to get some offensive momentum. A 49-yard bomb from Elton to Jordan Owens set up an 18-yard touchdown pass to Devonte Downie across the middle a few plays later.
Westwood's defense stood tall on Huntington's following drive as they were forced to punt.
The Panthers took over with 10:50 remaining in the game looking to trim the deficit. A bubble screen to Downie coupled with a Huntington penalty set Westwood up on their own 44.
A pass interference call on a Red Devil defensive back pushed the ball down to Huntington's 26.
A false start call on Westwood temporaliy stalled their drive before Elton and Downie connected on a 27-yard pass on third-and-15 that placed them three yards outside the endzone.
A few plays later, Steven Diz would plow his way in. The ensuing extra point was good.
Huntington saw their lead trimmed to five with 8:20 left in the game. They began to assert chew clock mode and was able to eat off six minutes of game time thanks to a key fourth-and-12 conversion late in the drive.
Once in field goal range, Huntington attempted a 37-yard try to go up eight that was blocked by the Westwood frontline.
Set up on their 20-yard line, Westwood had 2:14 to compose a touchdown drive. But they would only get two plays into their drive before a tipped pass attended for Downie fell into the arms of a Huntington defender.
The Panthers would get the ball back with 20 seconds to go and 97 yards of field to overcome. But the Huntington defensive line would ensure there would be no hopes of a comeback as they forced Elton into a safety to end the game.
The Panthers ended their season 3-7 overall.