The Van Alstyne Middle School eighth grade Panthers traveled to Commerce on Oct. 3 to face the Tigers in what turned out to be a thrilling contest. The game was not decided until a fourth down pass by Commerce fell incomplete near the Panthers’ goal line with 32 seconds remaining, and the Panthers held on for a 21-14 victory.
Van Alstyne got off to a hot start as it scored on the opening possession of the game. Quarterback Camden Cooper reached the end zone on a one-yard keeper. The two-point conversion attempt was good and the Panthers held an 8-0 lead early.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard just before halftime as a short swing pass was taken 65 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and the game was tied, 8-8.
The Panthers took the second-half kick and scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordon Velekei. The extra point was good and the Panthers lead was 15-8. The Tigers took the ensuing kick and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to pull within a point, but the conversion attempt failed, allowing the Panthers to keep the lead, 15-14.
After stopping the Tigers on downs, the Panthers started the fourth quarter at their own 35-yard line. Ten plays later, Kaden White sprinted 27 yards for a touchdown, with 2:33 to go in the game. The extra point attempt was no good and the Panthers lead had increased to 21-14.
The Tigers threatened on their last possession as they started at the Panthers’ 45-yard line. They marched all the way to the Panthers’ 10-yard line with less than a minute to play. On Commerce’s first down, defensive back Chase Wilson made an outstanding play on a short pass to the running back for a 12-yard loss. From the 22-yard line, the Tigers next three pass attempts fell incomplete and the ball was turned over on downs.
The Panthers lined up in the victory formation and took a knee to run out the clock and secure the win.