For the second consecutive week the Paschal Panthers (0-2) came up short, losing 41-40 Saturday night to the Burleson Elks (1-1) at Clark Stadium.
Burleson won the game on the back of a strong offensive performance. Quarterback Barrett Cain was key to the Elks’ offensive success. Cain led the team in total yardage with 231 passing yards and 114 rushing yards, including three rushing touchdowns.
Burleson’s starting running back, Ayinde Alaajiy, also looked particularly impressive, showcasing his speed and power en route to 168 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Both of Alaajiy’s touchdown scampers came on long runs of 58 and 62 yards. Burleson finished with 560 yards of total offense.
Unlike the Elks, Paschal once again struggled to establish its running game, finishing with only 38 total yards rushing, 35 of which came from Quarterback Chris Hanson. Despite throwing two interceptions, Hanson had his best performance so far this season, completing 16 of 30 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown and running for another touchdown.
“We moved the ball, but we just stopped ourselves with penalties and simple mistakes,” Hanson said. “We’ve just got to go balls to the wall no matter what.”
Paschal began the second half down only 21-0, and fought hard to narrow the gap. However, the Panthers failed to capitalize on a flurry of Burleson penalties and turnovers and couldn’t stop the Elks’ offense when they needed to most.
Although the game was a loss, Head Coach Matt Cook said that he feels his team is improving and saw many positives.
“We played all the way through, which we didn’t do last week, and we got great senior leadership, which I was proud of,” Cook said.
Cook said he was also pleased with the play of his defense, especially the secondary and linebackers Andrew Pillow and Daniel Reiling. The Paschal defense recovered three fumbles and defensive back Mike Garcia also grabbed an interception.
“I think our defense did a great job creating turnovers. Our offense just has to capitalize,” Cook said. “If we can score some points, that will help our defense out.”
Another superlative from this game was the first Panther touchdown of the season. Wide receiver Brian Munoz caught a 31-yard pass from Hanson to make the score 21-7 in the third quarter. Munoz finished the game with 52 receiving yards on three catches.
“It felt amazing. I didn’t know what to do, I just started yelling,” Munoz said of his first catch of the season and the Panthers’ first touchdown.
Cook said the offense is looking for a go-to guy and in an offense searching for consistency. Munoz said he hopes to fill that role.
The Panthers will look to capture their first victory when they travel to Azle for their first road test of the season next week. The 0-2 Paschal Panthers will battle the 1-1 Azle Hornets on Friday night, Sept. 9, at Hornet Field.
For a slideshow of game photos courtesy of Paschal Booster Club visit https://picasaweb.google.com/PHSFootballBooster/PaschalPanthersVsBurlesonElks04.