With the clinking of bells from the garters and mums being worn and brown and gold letterman jackets with different graduation years splattered all over Austin’s R.E. McKee Stadium, that meant it was one special night for the Austin Panthers – Homecoming.
The Panthers hosted the Hanks Knights for their special night in hopes of not only satisfying all of the alumni who showed up to the game, but to also earn their first victory of this young season. The Knights came in with a very well-known duo in Quarterback Marcus Torres and Wide Receiver Jude Blanco. In Hanks’ first 3 games, they have averaged almost 50 points on offense per game and their closest game was a 17-point victory against the El Paso High Tigers.
The Panthers were eager to put a mark on the Knight’s loss column and the first mark in their win column. Hanks was able to eat up most of the first quarter and drove it all the way down to the Panther 16-yard-line, but were unable to convert. The Panther defense forced a turnover and with 50 seconds into the 2nd Quarter, the Panthers scored the first points of the game with a 10-yard Ruben Bustillos Touchdown run to make it, 7-0, Austin.
The Knights were, once again, able to use up quite a bit of time in the 2nd quarter and were able to have their points of the contest with 3:05 remaining before halftime, when Michael Oliver scored on a two-yard Touchdown run. The extra point field goal was not successful, sending the Panthers into halftime with the 7-6 edge.
Coming out of the half, turnovers really took a toll for both teams, as they exchanged interceptions. Finally, with 2:44 left in the 3rd quarter, Austin’s Bustillos was able to find paydirt, once again. This time it was on an 11-yard Touchdown run with a missed point after attempt to give the Panthers a 13-6 lead.
The Panthers were able to give their lead a little more cushion when Matthew Anakin Torres faked everyone, as he ran right up the middle for an impressive and well-executed 7-yard Quarterback draw. That put Austin up, 20-6, with 5:07 remaining in the ball game. With less than 4 minutes left, the Knights decided to add a little bit of drama to the night. It started with 3:56 left in the game, when Marcus Porras connected with Jude Blanco on a dashing 49-yard touchdown pass to inch the Knights closer, 20-13.
On Austin’s very next drive, Panther Quarterback Matthew Anakin Torres was picked off deep in Austin’s own territory. With the Knights having great field possession, they were able to capitalize with a seamless 10-yard toss from Porras to Christian Rodriguez to make the score, 20-19, with 1:50 left. Hanks decided to gamble and go for the win, as they had Porras try and air it out to Michael Oliver for the 2-point attempt, but that was unsuccessful. Austin ran the clock out on their very next possession and the clinking of bells rang in excitement and the Austin alumni went home happy, as their Panthers went home with an exciting 20-19 victory on Homecoming night.
Next week, the Hanks Knights will host the Burges Mustangs. The Austin Panthers will travel to their rival, El Paso High Tigers, for the notorious Battle of the Claw at the nationwide-famous R.R. Jones Stadium.
Story by Paul David Oliver