Panthers grab historic win at Cub Stadium

Chance Runnels (#21), Colby LaDuque (#62), and Carter Ware (#89) gang tackle the Brenham ball carrier. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Chance Runnels (#21), Colby LaDuque (#62), and Carter Ware (#89) gang tackle the Brenham ball carrier. (Kathy Canady Photo)


BRENHAM — Against all odds, the Liberty Hill Panthers proved their doubters wrong. No one gave them a chance entering into their Friday night game against 5A Brenham at Cub Stadium, but Liberty Hill proved that games aren’t won on paper.

The Panthers came into the game with injuries to key players, a classification below their opponent, and were still getting over their season opening loss to La Grange at home a week ago. But despite all that adversity—despite the odds being stacked against them—Liberty Hill proved their doubters wrong.

“We were in this game and we weren’t expected to win it,” said Head Coach Jerry Vance. “No one expected us to show up. But our kids played so well. I get excited about that kind of football game. That is a Texas high school football game. We had some injuries, we had some guys go down, but someone always stepped in and contributed. It was a great victory—a total team victory.”

Brenham might have had the three or four best players on the field on Friday night, but they didn’t have the best team. And that’s what won Liberty Hill the game, a total team effort with all three units stepping up when they needed to at the right times.

The Panthers’ offense was clicking from the very beginning of the game when they scored on the second play from scrimmage all the way to the very end. The offense scored touchdowns on seven out of 11 of their total possessions and scored four touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game.

The defense was tested early and often, but stepped up when they had to. Despite the high scoring contest, the Panthers’ defense made several key third down stops, and prevented the Cubs from tying the game with 4:36 remaining in the game on a two-point conversion try.

On special teams, Lucas Rizzotto was fantastic on kickoffs, extra points, and in the punting game. The Panthers’ coverage team also did their job to prevent any big returns.

“Our offense was moving the ball and our defense had a crucial stop in the fourth quarter,” Vance said. “That crucial play when Grant White knocked the ball loose (on the two-point conversion) was big. The poor kid had been fighting hard all game and in a crucial time when we had to have it, he found that one thing to hold the rope for everybody.”

Brenham senior quarterback Caleb Hill put on a show in the passing game with his favorite target Jaquay Cross catching most of his passes. Hill finished the game 12 for 20 with 299 yards passing and threw six touchdown passes.

His receiver, Cross finished with 10 catches for 272 yards receiving and six touchdowns.

The Panthers opened the scoring 48 seconds into the game when Hunter Lindsay scored a 65-yard touchdown on his first carry.

The Cubs responded with a touchdown of their own on their second offensive play of the game when Earnest Patterson rushed up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown.

It was Lindsay again on Liberty Hill’s second offensive possession, when the senior broke free on a rush to the right for a 44-yard touchdown.

Caleb Hill responded on the Cubs’ next possession with a play-action, 73-yard touchdown pass to Cross in his first pass attempt to tie the game at 14-14.

Logan Barnes finished off a four-minute drive on the Panthers’ third possession of the game when he rushed in for a nine-yard touchdown with 3:41 left in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Nick Hernandez called his own number and rushed left to out run the Brenham defense for a 30-yard touchdown. 28-14 in favor of the Panthers.

The Cubs grabbed the momentum back when Liberty Hill fumbled inside their own territory to give Brenham a short field to work with. Two plays later, Hill rolled to the left and found Cross open for a five-yard touchdown pass.

Brenham forced a stop on fourth down in the Panthers’ next offensive possession to take over at midfield. Two plays later, Hill found Cross again for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Cross beat Grant White on a deep fly pattern and broke a tackle to walk into the endzone and tie the game with 3:21 left in the first half.

Caleb Guerin scored the Panthers’ first touchdown of the second half on a six-yard scamper on second and six.

Brenham put together a long, six-minute drive to tie the game at 35-35 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. Hill rolled to the left and threw back across field to a wide open Cross in the endzone for a four-yard touchdown.

Hernandez responded for the Panthers with a 37-yard quarterback keeper to the left with 9:57 left in the game. Matt McLeod threw a great block on the run to free Hernandez down the sideline for the score.

Brenham scored three minutes later when Hill found Cross for the ninth time of the game on a 33-yard touchdown pass. Brenham however missed the extra point and the Panthers remained a point ahead, 42-41.

With 5:31 left in the game, Jon Shannon came up huge for the Panthers when he broke off a 31-yard run and drew a horse collar penalty on the tackle to add 15 more yards to the end of the run. On the next play Shannon broke free up the middle to score an 11-yard touchdown and put the Panthers up 49-41.

Brenham responded three plays later with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Cross, despite pass interference on Grant White with 4:36 left in the game. White responded by coming up with the play of the game on the Cubs’ two-point conversion try by breaking up the pass to Cross and keeping the score 49-47.

The Panthers picked up several key first downs on their next offensive possession to seal the game and come out with a historic victory.