BONHAM — Panthers quarterback Rhett Gallagher led Van Alstyne through the air and on the ground to a 49-27 victory against Bonham in non-district action on Friday night.
Gallagher completed 11-of-14 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns to go with 14 carries for 134 yards and four touchdowns as the Panthers (2-0) broke the game open with three touchdowns in the second quarter.
Ty Cosper, Chase Wilson, and Austin Moore each contributed to the Panther victory with receiving touchdown with Moore kicking five extra points.
Tanner Jones paced the running attack with 24 carries for 148 yards.
Tyler Rodriguez was 11-of-18 for 146 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and also gained 56 yards on 11 carries, Hayden Stevenson had six carries for 30 yards and a TD and Trevor Hartwell caught four passes for 91 yards and both touchdowns for the Warriors (1-1).
With the score tied at seven after the first quarter, Gallagher connected with Moore for a a touchdown before Stevenson had a 33-yard TD run and the extra point gave the Warriors a one-point advantage.
The Warriors enjoyed this short-lived scoring lead, but Van Alstyne would take back the game before half time. The Panther offense was the highlight of the game for Van Alstyne, as Gallagher scored on a 23-yard run and hit Wilson for the conversion, then the pair had a five-yard touchdown causing Van Alstyne to lead 28-14 at half-time.
The Van Alstyne defensive line was a wall for Bonham. Panthers Drelin Davis, Jake Carroll and Sam Rimple led the Panthers with seven tackles each. Justin Barnes, Zach Wright and Cayson Miller all broke through the Warrior offense to sack the opposing quarterback three times each. Senior running back and nose guard Wilson earned and interception while on defense and received the ball five times for a total advancement of 66 receiving yards for the Panthers.
The third quarter spelled certain victory for Van Alstyne when Gallagher made the running play through the Bonham defense to reach the end zone to extend the lead to 35-14 for the Panthers, with Moore securing the extra point with a field goal kick. Ball possession went back and forth between the two teams for the remainder of the third quarter in a stalemate highlighted when officials called a penalty on Bonham for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The action in the final quarter started when Van Alstyne turned the ball over on downs. Bonham cut the deficit to 35-21 on a Hartwell TD catch, but the Panthers answered with Cosper’s 54-yard scoring grab.
Bonham tried to rally and got back within two scored on another Hartwell touchdown reception, but Gallagher finished off his outstanding performance with a 23-yard run to seal the victory.
The night was nonetheless bittersweet for Van Alstyne in the outcome of what started as a competition between two skilled teams. The Panthers lost senior running back Scott Taylor after a season-ending ACL injury sustained during the game. Van Alstyne will now be continuing the season without one of its most valuable players.
The Panthers will next travel to Nevada, Texas to take on Community for a non-conference game on Friday, Sept. 22, whilet he Warriors will next travel deep into Texoma to take on Pottsboro for a non-conference game on Friday, Sept. 15.
For updates on all Van Alstyne Panther sports be sure to follow the teams online at www.VanAlstyneLeader.com/Sports.