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Panthers explosive in homecoming win against Farmers

Griff Servati,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Collin Reynolds on his 70-yard touchdown reception in the win over Farmersville.

When it was all said and done, Van Alstyne High School’s 2020 Homecoming ended with a bang - literally.

The homecoming festivities, which had been postponed a week after Gainesville canceled due to COVID-19, was moved to the home game against Farmersville.

Panthers fans who were quick enough to purchase their tickets online before they sold out in hours on Sept. 23 were treated to a great game.

The game went to overtime, where the difference was a matter of inches and one point when the Panthers’ Nicholas Loya got a hand on the attempt and blocked the Farmer's overtime extra point.

The Panthers would respond with their overtime possession with a score and the game-deciding extra point by Diego Hernandez.

As the players celebrated on the field, fireworks exploded over the scoreboard that read 42-41. The surprise fireworks were a fitting end to a game that had so much drama.

The Panthers were led by junior quarterback Gavin Montgomery and his five rushing touchdowns. Montgomery carried the ball for 130 yards on 25 carries.

Early in the game, the Panthers lost feature running back Jaden Mahan to a hand injury. Filling his role with strong chain-moving runs was Gavin Bybee, who finished with 41 yards rushing.

The Panthers’ passing game connected with several receivers on the night. Those with receptions included Collin Reynolds, Lucas Lindley, Connor Loftice, Dakota Howard, and Chris Berrios.

The only receiving touchdown came from Montgomery to Reynolds. That was a short pass to the flats. Reynolds used his speed to turn it into a 70-yard scoring play.

The longest pass of the night - 33 yards - came from Montgomery to Lindley. It put the Panthers in a scoring position that would lead to a Montgomery touchdown run on the next play.

Another critical reception that would not look like much on the box score was caught by tight end Berrios. The play was designed to go left, but was defended well by the Farmers.

Montgomery was forced to scramble, reversed field and threw to Berrios, who made a fingertip catch along the sideline that would keep the drive alive that led to a Panthers touchdown.

After the game, celebrating with his team, Coach Mikeal Miller pointed out key "unsung" players who made a big difference in the game.

Brett Long, an undersized defensive lineman, had to play three different positions on the night due to injuries.

Mateen Boudain, a cornerback, gave up some big plays early in the game to come back on the Farmer's last drive to have two critical pass breakups to keep the Farmers from scoring, allowing the Panthers’ offense to tie the game.

Lindley filled in on both offense and defense and even as long snapper on the crucial game-winning extra point.

Lastly, Diego Hernandez, the backup kicker, found out on Thursday he would be the only kicker available on Friday night.

The Panthers head to Bullard Oct. 2. When the UIL placed the Panthers in a five-team district, it was up to Miller to find another team in a similar grouping to find an open date.

The game was initially scheduled to be played midway in Sulphur Springs, but due to the delayed start of the season for large schools, the field is now unavailable. So the Panthers will make the 300-mile roundtrip to east Texas.

If you plan to make the trip to the game, note that tickets must be pre-purchased at the high school.

Van Alstyne 42, Farmersville 41, OT

Farmersville - 0 14 14 7 6 — 41

Van Alstyne- 8 13 7 7 7 — 42

FIRST QUARTER

VA — Gavin Montgomery 3 run (Collin Reynolds run)

SECOND QUARTER

VA — Montgomery 7 run (Diego Hernandez kick)

F — Dylan Shankle 13 pass from E.J. Chairez (Avery Gordon kick)

VA — Reynolds 70 pass from Montgomery (kick failed)

F — Gerardo Reyes 90 pass from Chairez (Connor Hanson kick)

THIRD QUARTER

F — Cooper Strawn 24 run (Hanson kick)

VA — Montgomery 8 run (Hernandez kick)

F — Strawn 12 run (Hanson kick)

FOURTH QUARTER

F — Strawn 1 run (Hanson kick)

VA — Montgomery 10 run (Hernandez kick)

OVERTIME

F — Chairez 4 run (kick blocked)

VA — Montgomery 19 run (Hernandez kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing — Farmersville: n/a; Van Alstyne: Gavin Montgomery 25-130, Gavin Bybee 7-41, Jaden Mahan 4-38, Dakota Howard 2-8, Will Frey 1-0.

Passing — Farmersville: n/a; Van Alstyne: Gavin Montgomery 10-15-1 118, Dakota Howard 1-1-0 39.

Receiving — Farmersville: n/a; Van Alstyne: Collin Reynolds 4-83, Lucas Lindley 2-39, Connor Loftice 2-14, Dakota Howard 1-11, Chris Berrios 2-10.

Van Alstyne High School tight end Chris Berrios makes a fingertip catch that kept a scoring drive alive in the 42-41 homecoming win over Farmersville.