HOWE — The silver spike trophy and bragging rights belong to Van Alstyne this football season after a 53-27 victory over Howe on Friday, Oct. 20. The Bulldogs fought back in the third quarter with two touchdowns scored by Bulldog quarterback Chase Harvey, with two points courtesy of kicker Callie Vick (5). The Panthers held a strong advantage throughout the game after taking control with a touchdown by quarterback Rhett Gallagher and an extra point by kicker Austin Moore to give Van Alstyne an early 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“I think it really turned around after (Dylan Porter) made his catch,” Moore said of the 35-yard touchdown pass by Gallagher to Porter who ran the ball into the Bulldog end zone to start off the quarter, “because that was an amazing catch, got everybody riled up and got everybody back in the flow.” The victory makes Moore one of the many varsity players who took home the silver spike for Van Alstyne (5-2) last season.

“They all played well today,” Van Alstyne head coach Mikeal Miller said. Gallagher and the Panther offense was a highlight for Van Alstyne’s silver spike victory.

The silver spike showdown is a rivalry that was reignited in the first district match between the schools after Howe (0-7) was moved up into Van Alstyne’s 3A Region II District 10 in 2016. The silver spike games between the Panthers and Bulldogs date back to an era when both schools represented much smaller communities who shared both a rail line and a love for their Texas high school football teams.

Andrew Griffin broke through the Panther defense to score a five-yard touchdown with two minutes left to go in the second quarter to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard. Vick followed the play up with a kick for the extra point for a 21-7 deficit going into halftime.

“Loss of focus,” Griffin said, stating the personal fouls called put a strain on Howe’s chances of a comeback going into the second half. “It’s just the little things we need to work on that’s about it. The (offensive line) did a hell of a job blocking for us and one of our best receivers got hurt there at the very end so that kind of hurt us a little bit.” The loss of one of their strongest playmakers, Ty Harvey, for the remainder of the game was a black-eye for the Bulldogs.

Howe went on the offensive after the Panthers established a 33-7 lead at the beginning of the quarter. The tipping point of the game between the two neighboring rivals was at the two-minute mark in the third quarter when Chase Harvey scored a touchdown from the one-yard line followed by Vick scoring the extra point for to close the gap to a 33-21 lead for the Panthers.

Van Alstyne maintained a formidable lead throughout the showdown, but the Howe defense did not make it easy for their friends on South US 75, blocking all kicking attempts by the Panther offense in the quarter. The decisive back-and-forth third quarter ended with Howe receiver Ty Harvey being put out for the rest of the game after a hard hit that resulted in penalty flags thrown against Van Alstyne.

The Bulldogs will try their luck on the road Oct. 27 when Howe takes on Whitesboro. The Panthers will continue the district 10 action with a home game on Oct. 27 against Callisburg in Gainesville.