Antlers hold off Champion in 24-19 thriller - Sports

Antlers hold off Champion in 24-19 thriller

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Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2019 1:22 am

Sheer determination and a TFND spirit carried a battered Tivy defense and short-handed offense to a 24-19 win over Boerne Champion Friday night at Antler Stadium in both team's District 14-5A opener.

Injured on the third play of the game, Antler quarterback Trapper Pannell was forced to the sidelines by halftime. but battled through pain to complete a 15-yard touchdown pass to Brooks McCoy at the 9:22 mark in the first quarter and scored on a 36-yard keeper early in the second quarter to give Tivy a 14-6 lead.

Jared Zirkel, who is still nursing a leg injury himself, kicked a 35-yard field goal, upping the Antlers lead to 17-6 at halftime. Zirkel split the uprights on all three extra-point kicks as well.

Boerne’s Reed Cantrell scored on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Luke Boyers in the first quarter, but the point after attempt was blocked by Tivy’s Jack Patterson, who scooped up the ball and carried it all the way down to the 1 yard line before being dragged down by a Boerne defender, a play that Antler fans questioned as a “horse collar.”

“I was really trying to get that boost in the end. I really wanted to get to the endzone,” Patterson said. “He got me right there in the end by my pads. It’s OK, though, that’s just football.”

One of the many gut-check defensive moments came shortly before the half. The Chargers were three yards from a touchdown and were denied the scoring attempt by a stout Antler defense, led by Cole Mixon, Gonzalo Hernandez and Garrett Kleypas, and instead, the ball went over on downs.

“The kids played great tonight. They were physical and relentless,” Tivy defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman said. “That goal line stand with four downs inside the three yard line, that’s TFND (Tivy Fight Never Dies) right there and most teams are going to quit at that point, but not our guys. They got down to the one foot line and we stopped them two more times. This was just one example of the amazing, resilient effort by these kids.”

Boerne scored late in the third quarter on a 3-yard scamper by Boyers and then followed with a 56-yard run by Tamari Jenkins in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter to gain the lead for the first time in the game at 19-17 by the 11:05 mark.

From the quarterback position, Cole Miears was equally determined to win and made sure the Antlers’ scored on their next possession. At mid-field, on a fourth down and one yard situation, Miears scrambled with true grit for six yards for the first down. He went for another seven yards on a keeper and followed with consecutive passes to Stoney Rhodes for 11 and 14 yards, landing at the Charger 19-yard line. He capped off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Fisher Middleton among heavy pressure by Boerne defenders with 8:12 left in the game.

“When they went ahead, we knew we had to come back and score right away,” Miears said. “We fought the entire way to the endzone. We were determined to get that lead back. Our offensive line did a great job all night and especially on that drive.”

For five minutes, both teams struggled for offensive yardage, but with just under three minutes left in the game, the Chargers made their way to the Antler 38-yard line and were threatening to steal the game.

Once again, the Tivy defense put up a wall, this time led by Hayden Poe, who chased down Boyers and brought him down for a 13-yard loss.

“It (the sack) was definitely a momentum-builder for us,” Poe said. “Dom (Dominic Jefferson) slowed him down and I came in right behind him and got the sack. It felt really good. This was a great game for our entire defense.”

Facing second down and 23 yards, Boyers was under incredible Antler pressure to throw. His final attempt was foiled by Patterson, who successfully defended Boerne’s Ian Mcleod for an incomplete pass and Tivy was back in possession of the ball with under two minutes to play.

“I just knew they were going to go to my side, so I just stayed deep and stayed on him,” Patterson said. “I knew they were going to go deep and I was going to shut him down.”

Tivy attempted to run out the clock, but were forced to punt with :14 left in the game and it was up to the Antler defense once again to close out the game, which they did.

In addition to sacks on the Boerne quarterback by Mixon and Poe, Regan Robertson recorded two of his own for losses totaling minus 14 yards and Kleypas recovered a fumble for Tivy.

The Antler defense had their hands full containing Jenkins, who rushed for 202 yards on 24 carries.

Miears led Tivy in rushing yards, finishing with 64. Middleton averaged 5.3 yards per carry for a total of 48 and Pannell finished with 41 yards on the night.

Pannell completed 10 of 15 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Miears threw for 120 yards on 16 of 24 completions, including one touchdown.

Head coach David Jones said the win over Boerne was a big one, but looking ahead he needs to get his team healthy.

“Almost everyone out there has an injury right now,” Jones said. “We just need to get by Kennedy (next week) and then we have the bye week and I hope to use that time to get healthy. Everybody did a great job tonight. They fought their tails off and did everything we asked them to do. We couldn’t ask for more. They fought hard and deserved to win.”

The Antlers (3-1) will be on the road Friday and will take on San Antonio Kennedy at Edgewood Stadium for continued District 14-5A action. Kick off is 7:30 p.m.

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