The very last of Friday night’s sunlight shined proud and bright on the illustrious Claw Trophy that has been held by the Austin Panthers for 5 straight years.
Austin Principal, Cyndi Ponce, proudly brought the historic trophy with her at the beginning of the game and as she took it out of the box, she showed it to her Panthers and it was apparent neither she nor the Panthers felt like handing it over to their rivals. R.R. Jones Stadium played host to a much-anticipated Battle of the Claw game between the Austin Panthers and the El Paso High Tigers. It was expected that this faceoff between these longtime rivals would be a fun and physical matchup. It ended up being that and then some.
The 1st Quarter was a showcase of what both offenses could do – maintain control of the ball. The El Paso Tigers ate up almost half of the first quarter with a dominant and slow-paced offense. They would work hard for every inch they gained. It was finally until with 7:34 left in the opening quarter, El Paso High’s Martin Gonzalez found paydirt with a 6-yard Quarterback keeper to make it, 7-0, Tigers.
When the Panthers gained possession of the ball, they were able to show their ball control ability as well. They also were able to slowly move downfield and eat up as much clock as they wanted. It wasn’t until 20 seconds into the 2nd Quarter, when Austin got their first points of the game with a 25-yard Field Goal to make it 7-3, El Paso High. The game was oozing with penalties. There were numerous holding and unsportsmanlike calls on both teams. It was expected that there would be some extracurricular activity after the whistles blew.
The final score of the first half came with 3:41 left in the 2nd Quarter when Andruw Andujo showed off that he has an arm, as he rolled out to the right and found Matthew Felix for a 46-yard Touchdown pass. Initially, the PAT was no good, but there was a penalty on the play that gave the Panthers another chance. They were able to convert on that opportunity, with a 2-point conversion, as we had an 11-7 halftime score.
The rest of the 2nd half was, once again, filled with penalties, hard played defense and offensive mishaps. El Paso High incurred 2 fumbles in the 2nd half that could have been disastrous, but they were able to jump on the ball and avoid those turnovers.
The game’s final score came with 4:57 in the 3rd Quarter, when Matthew Anakin Torres had his first Passing Touchdown of the season when he aired it out to Andujo for 4-yard Touchdown pass. When the clock struck zero, the Panthers hoisted the Battle of the Claw Trophy for the 6th straight year in front of their Austin faithful, as the scoreboard read the score of 18-7, Panthers.
The El Paso High Tigers will have a bye next week and have their next game on Friday, October 6, when they host the Andress Eagles for the first district game of the season. The Austin Panthers will have their final tuneup game of the season before district play begins, as they will travel to Lubbock on Thursday, September 28, to take on Dumas.
Story by Paul David Oliver