VAN ALSTYNE — The mojo was strong on Friday, Oct. 13 when Whitesboro beat Van Alstyne 27-28 after the two well-matched teams squared off at Panther Stadium for the 2017 3A-1 Region II district 5 opener. The outcome of the game was a scramble to the finish as the Bearcats fought to keep the lead down to the final minute of an intense competition for the fans and players of both teams with the outcome being equally shocking for all those in attendance.

Van Alstyne (4-2) fought to make a comeback with exciting back-to-back touchdown plays at the end of the game to trail Whitesboro (3-3) by one point. The game was decided in the final minute of play when Whitesboro defense shut down a 2-point conversion attempt by the Panthers to top off an all-out battle at the end of the fourth quarter.

The Bearcats had the Panthers on the run going into the fourth quarter with a 21-14 lead. The Whitesboro defense was a highlight of the game for the Bearcats as they managed to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard for the majority of the final quarter. Nolan Frith started the action at the end of the game when he ran the ball 21 yards for a touchdown for Whitesboro. Bearcats kicker Rustin Reedy scored the final point for Whitesboro, increasing the lead to 28-14.

The Panther offense had no intention of going gentle into the night as Van Alstyne’s offense started up a comeback when quarterback Rhett Gallagher threw a 35-yard touchdown to Panther running back Chase Wilson. The crowd was on their feet when kicker Austin Moore made the kick to bring the score to 21-28 in the final moments of the game. The most intense and decisive play of the night for Van Alstyne started with a touchdown pass from Panthers offensive power players Gallagher and Moore to close the scoring gap to the final one-point deficit of 27-28. Van Alstyne’s offense ended the first round of district action with a 2-point conversion attempt denied by the Whitesboro defense.

The game of football is no stranger to superstition, especially that which is associated with the occurrence of Friday the thirteenth. For teams such as Whitesboro, the date can be a sign of good fortune, while the seasonal mojo was not in favor of the Panthers from the beginning of the game. The Panthers trailed the Bearcats 7-0 at the end of the first quarter when Frith ran a 14-yard touchdown in for Whitesboro with three minutes to go. Bearcat kicker Reedy secured the 7-0 lead with a kick for the extra point.

Both teams played a tough game with defensive lines that are not easily moved. The Whitesboro offense was being worn down by the Panthers and could not get to the end zone until the closing minutes of the first half. Whitesboro offense fought to the 2-yard line when Brooks Barker scored the second touchdown of the night for the Bearcats and a kick by Reedy gave Whitesboro the extra point for a short-lived 14-0 lead. Van Alstyne offense began to make progress when Gallagher threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Porter and Moore made the kick to put the score at 14-7 going into halftime.

Despite the incredible gameplay, Whitesboro enjoyed a strong third quarter, increasing the lead to 21-7 after Benton Novin ran in a touchdown and Reedy kicked the extra point once more for Whitesboro.

The third quarter was not without its highlights for the Panthers, as the offense brought the home crowd to their feet with an intense touchdown pass from Gallagher to Wilson at the 7-yard line, while Moore contributed a good kick for the extra point and Van Alstyne ended the third quarter trailing Whitesboro, 21-14.

The Whitesboro Bearcats will try to continue their lucky streak on Oct. 20 on the road against Pilot Point (2-4). The Van Alstyne Panthers will take the pack on a short road trip north on the same night to take on old friends and rival the Howe Bulldogs on their home turf at Bulldog Stadium.