We could spend a lot of time and energy talking about the officiating in the Oct. 25 Pottsboro-Van Alstyne football game, but the final results will be the same.
The Cardinals came out on top of a closely contested district battle, 23-21, and the Panthers dropped their second league game.
Pottsboro got the benefit of two questionable calls in the first quarter to get off to a 7-0 start, then got an even bigger break in the third period when a judgment call turned an incomplete pass into a 69-yard touchdown for the winning points.
As my good friend and former baseball manager Billy Martin used to say, ”Half the people see black, half see white and the others are blind.” Billy was a great manager, not so good at math.
After the Friday night smoke cleared, the District 6-2A battle for the third and fourth playoff spots will be contested by three teams over these next two weeks.
Van Alstyne, Sunnyvale and Caddo Mills are in the hunt, but the Foxes will need some outside help to get that final postseason berth.
Pottsboro (8-1)(5-0) got an interception on its second possession of the game at Panther Stadium and picked up a first down to move the ball to the Van Alstyne 35 yard line. After a pair of incomplete passes, Pottsboro was looking at a third and long when the first yellow flag flew.
A player from each team got into a minor pushing match and the out-of-touch zebra on the Van Alstyne side penalized the Panthers 15 yards to keep the drive alive.
After a nice defensive stop by Will Jones, the Cardinals picked up six yards before a third down pass into the end zone sailed over the receiver’s head as Shawn Wheeler gave him a gentle nudge. Same ref, same results, a flag against Van Alstyne on an uncatchable (I know that’s not a word, spellcheck) ball.
Pottsboro took those two gifts to the bank as Thaddeus Flinn barged in for the score to give the visitors a 7-0 edge.
Van Alstyne’s Kearon Redmon picked off a Pottsboro pass late in the first period, as the Panthers took over at their 23 yard line. A time-consuming, 11-play drive of 77 yards got the Panthers on the board.
Alex Phillips had runs of 9 and 12 yards and a 12-yard pass to Redmon to highlight the march. Phillips scored from three yards out, and Matt Perez booted the first of his three extra points for the night, tying the contest at 7-7.
Pottsboro added another six-yard scoring run by Flinn and a 14-yard field goal by Kory Waller to take a 16-7 lead to the break.
Van Alstyne took the second half kickoff and used up half of the 12-minute period on a 12-play, 80-yard drive to cut the lead to two points.
A Phillips’ run for 12 yards started the drive, and Terry Lawrence capped the march with nine-yard scoring run to make it a 16-14 game. Phillips carried the ball five times for 61 yards in that drive.
Pottsboro had a nice drive working on its next possession, moving the ball to the Van Alstyne 11-yard line before Bryce Himmelreich jumped on a Cardinal fumble.
Van Alstyne picked up a first down and moved the ball out to their own 35 before punting.
On the second down of Pottsboro’s possession after Trent Alexander had stopped a Pottsboro run at the line, Mr Zebra got back into the game. A pass to a Pottsboro receiver was caught while he was in the air and as he came down with the ball, it fell to the ground. A Cardinal player scooped up the loose ball and raced up the sidelines 69 yards for the controversial score.
Was it a catch and fumble, or an incomplete pass?
The officials ruled the former and the scoreboard read Pottsboro 23, Van Alstyne 14.
The Panthers never stopped battling. They got a fumble recovery by Triston Pryor early in the fourth quarter, and four plays later, Dont’e Kehler scored from 14 yards out to make it a 23-21 game.
The Panthers got one final shot after Kearon Redmon’s second interception of the contest, but a fourth-down try came up just inches short and the Cardinals walked away grateful for the win.
The Panthers travel to Howe Friday to take on a much-improved Bulldog team which is coming off of a 26-6 win over Commerce.
Tied with Sunnyvale at 2-2 in district play, Van Alstyne fans will be rooting for the Cardinals Friday as they host the Raiders.
Pottsboro 7 9 7 0-23
Van Alstyne 0 7 7 7-21
P: Thaddeus Flinn 6 run (Kory Waller kick) 5:30
VA: Alex Phillips 3 run (Matt Perez kick) 7:59
P: Flinn 6 run (pass failed) 5:58
P: Waller 14 FG 0:09
VA: Terry Lawrence 9 run (Perez kick) 6:56
P: Nate Watson 69 fumble (Waller kick) 1:36
VA: Dont’e Kehler 14 run (Perez kick) 7:58
Pottsboro Van Alstyne
First downs 12 17
Rushes-yards 28-154 48-268
Passing yards 138 61
C-A-I 7-15-2 6-11-2
Punts-average 1-24 3-34
Penalties-yards 4-25 5-45
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Rushing—Pottsboro:Thaddeus Flinn 14-66,Zane Pritchett 9-51, Hunter Mullenix 5-37.
Van Alstyne: Alex Phillips 30-150, Dont’e Kehler 9-93, Terry Lawrence 9-25.
Passing—Pottsboro Hunter Mullenix 7-13-0 138, Zane Pritchett 0-2-2. Van Alstyne: Phillips 6-11-2 61
Receiving—Pottsboro: Zach Lovelady 2-68, Kory Waller 2-48, Austin Tol 3-22. Van Alstyne: Kearon Redmon 3-36, Trey Burden 2-14, Shawn Wheeler 1-11.