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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Bobcats rally past Panthers


Last updated 10/3/2023 at 9:11pm

Darren Hoyeland

Coach Smalley honored for his 68th win at Orangefield making him the winningest coach in the school's history.

Orangefield rallied from thirteen points down to win a key football game against the team picked to win the district. The Bobcats beat the Anahuac Panthers 32-20 at F. L. McClain Stadium on Friday night.

The win keeps the Bobcats (3-3, 2-0) undefeated and in first place in District 10-3A Division I. The win was the sixty-eighth for Head Coach Josh Smalley in his more than a decade with Orangefield making him the winningest coach in the school's history passing Ed Peveto. Anahuac (4-1, 1-1) suffered its first loss of the season.

Orangefield won the coin toss prior to the game and deferred to the second half. The Panthers got the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in 13 plays to take the initial lead of the game.

Anahuac used a fast pace attack not really waiting very long between snaps. The Panthers also were balanced with seven passes and six run plays during their scoring drive.

Orangefield was flagged for a major penalty when the Anahuac quarterback was tackled out of bounds. The call was a tough one in that it looked like the Panther and the Bobcat just fell together as they crossed the sideline.

Quarterback Logan Trotter completed five of his first seven passes for 38 yards. Thomas Delao carried the ball four times for 16 yards the last five yards earned him and the Panthers a touchdown. The successful point after gave Anahuac a 7-0 lead just 3:33 into the game.

The Bobcats had a quick three and out punting the ball back to the Panthers at midfield. As it did on its first possession Anahuac scored again to go up by two scores.

The ten-play drive included seven rushing plays with Delao and Trotter both picking up first downs on the ground. The biggest play was the touchdown on a 23-yard pass from Trotter to the Panthers stellar receiver Quandre Coates who made a sensational catch despite being well covered. Anahuac went for two but Delao was stopped on the run attempt to keep the score 13-0 with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

A nice kick return by Mason Manning for over 30 yards gave the Bobcats the ball at their 47. The ground game began to click for Orangefield this drive as Kane Smith gained a first down with a 13-yard run and Manning got a second first down on a three-yard pickup on fourth-and-three to the Anahuac 30.

Bobcat quarterback Carson Gonzales completed a pass to Manning for 18 yards taking the ball to the Panthers' nine. Smith gained three yards before Manning got the touchdown with a 6-yard scamper. The point after had plenty of distance but was wide right so Orangefield trailed 13-6 with 9:03 left in the half.

After an exchange of two punts by the Panthers and one by the Bobcats, Orangefield took possession of the ball with just over four minutes left in the half. The first play from scrimmage Manning broke loose for a first down run to the Anahuac 48.

The officials called penalties on three straight plays including a pass interference on the Panthers for a Bobcat first down moving the ball to the 34. The next two penalties, one on Orangefield and one on Anahuac, kept the ball on the 34 of Anahuac.

Gonzales then hooked up again with Manning out of the backfield this time for an apparent touchdown except the officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the three. Kyle Michael gobbled up the last three yards for a touchdown but the kick was again wide right to keep the Bobcats trailing by one point 13-12 with 1:19 to play in the second quarter.

Delao made his longest run of the night for the Panthers on the first play 25 yards after the kickoff. A hook and lateral worked for eight yards, and Delao gained another first down for Anahuac to the Orangefield 31.

Bobcat Logan Trahan broke up a pass near the end zone, and Lane Gipson stopped Delao for a loss forcing the Panthers to try a 38-yard field goal which was woefully short as the half expired with Anahuac leading by a single point.

Orangefield got the second half kickoff but after a lone first down the Bobcats punted. The Panthers took their first possession in the third quarter 68 yards for a touchdown. Again it was Coates who caught a pass in the flat, broke about three tackles, and carried a couple Bobcats with him into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown. Anahuac led 20-12 with 6:54 left in the third period.

The Bobcats wasted no time answering the challenge. A holding penalty cost Orangefield a big gain, but the Panthers made a more serious blunder when they had a targeting hit called on them and the player then mouthed off to the officials resulting in two major penalties being called. The result was a first down for the Bobcats at the Anahuac 36

Another holding penalty did not stymie Orangefield as Manning ran for 17 yards to the 31. Manning then made a beautiful cutback on a run up the middle to find nothing but green between him and the goal line for a 31-yard touchdown. The try for two failed keeping the Bobcats behind by two points 20-18 with 4:36 to play in the third quarter.

Helping to keep the deficit to only two points was the Bobcat defense. The next two Anahuac possessions the Panthers had fourth and ones in Orangefield territory and both times Michael with help from other Bobcats stopped the Panther runner for no gain turning the ball over on downs both times.

An exchange of punts followed the second great defensive stop by Orangefield with the Bobcats taking the ball at the Anahuac 49 with six and half minutes left in the fourth quarter. Manning moved the ball to the 30 with a 19-yard carry.

Holding was called on the Bobcats' next run moving the ball back to the 31. From there Manning scored his third touchdown of the game. The Bobcats finally converted a point after with Smith running the ball in for two points to make the score 26-20 in favor of Orangefield for the first time all night.

The pressure was now on Anahuac to answer but two runs only netted two yards and an incompletion setup fourth-and-8. Trotter tried to throw to Coates for the first down yardage but Smith of the Bobcats had the coverage and made a super dive to keep the ball out of the hands of the Panther receiver to turn the ball back over to Orangefield on downs.

Smith starts on offense, defense, and special teams. After his great play on defense Kane cut loose for a 30-yard run to the two. Fernando Sandoval-Rodriguez scored two plays later for an insurance Bobcat touchdown.

The clinching play came from the Orangefield defense as Kaleb Menard intercepted a pass from Trotter. After one more Bobcat first down Gonzales took a couple of knees and the victory belonged to Orangefield.

Freshman quarterback Carson Gonzales of Orangefield has guided the Bobcats to victories in their first two district games including Friday night over Anahuac

For the second straight game the Bobcats won the turnover battle with Menard's interception the only take away in the game. Freshman Bobcat quarterback Carson Gonzales did not have a rushing carry in the game. Carson did complete two passes for 49 yards with no turnovers in guiding the Orangefield offense which has scored 81 points in the two district games with Gonzales directing it.

Mason Manning ran the ball 15 times, gained 134 yards, caught the two passes from Gonzales for 49 yards, and scored three touchdowns. Kane Smith was second in rushing for the Bobcats with 69 yards on 15 carries.

The Panthers were led offensively by Logan Trotter who passed for 190 yards and ran for 17 yards. Thomas Delao had 66 yards on the ground and two receptions for 11 yards. Quandre Coates was Anahuac's leading receiver with 8 catches for 116 yards.

Orangefield will travel next week to play the Tarkington Longhorns. Anahuac returns home to face the Kirbyville Wildcats next Friday night.


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