The fun ride the Saint Jo Panthers were on came to a stop on Friday night against perennial power Blum in the region III championship game at Springtown.
Despite starting the game off on the right foot, the Panthers lost to the Bobcats 54-30.
Saint Jo started the game well on the scoreboard, but early on could tell it was going to be the toughest challenge of the season.
The Panthers received the ball and as were facing a fourth and long after three straight runs only picked up modest yardage. Eli Jones found Chance Bennett, who rumbled down the sideline for 39-yard touchdown pass to give Saint Jo an 8-0 lead.
The Panthers looked to capitalize on an early Blum mistake as Jones intercepted a pass. Unfortunately, Saint Jo’s offense stalled at its own 23-yard line. The Bobcats took advantage scoring in three plays, cutting the lead to 8-6 heading to the second quarter.
The Panthers bounced back with a heavy helping of running back Logan Brawner, running seven times for 39 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 16-6.
Blum looked like it was marching towards Saint Jo’s end zone, when a mishandled snap was pounced on by Pepe Gam at the Panthers own 23-yard line.
Saint Jo’s offense gave the Bobcats another look with its spread formation and moved towards midfield. From there, Jones found Logan Morman behind his defender and completed a 41-yard pass for the touchdown.
The kick made it 24-6 midway through the second quarter and things could not have been going much better for the Panthers. Unfortunately, that was as good as it would get for Saint Jo the rest of the night.
Blum’s offense again made its way into the Panther’s territory. With several quick hitting sweep plays towards the sidelines with blockers in front, the Bobcats made every missed tackle pay. One run got through for a 30-yard touchdown to cup the lead to 24-14.
Saint Jo made it towards midfield before facing a fourth and short. The pass fell incomplete and Blum took over. Two big plays got the ball down to the Panther’s goal line where the Bobcats scored to cut the lead to 24-22.
Saint Jo could not score before halftime to extend the lead and with Blum receiving the second half kick-off, the momentum had swung the Bobcats way in the final five minutes of the second quarter.
The Panthers would need to start the third quarter on a strong note if they wanted to gain back the momentum they had early in the second quarter and maintain their lead.
Blum drove the ball towards midfield and faced a fourth and short. The ball was jarred lose again and Braydon Bell recovered, giving Saint Jo its third takeaway of the game. Unfortunately, the Panthers gave the ball right back after four straight runs turned the ball over on downs.
From there, the Bobcats got losoe on another big run from 30-yards out to score, taking their first lead 30-24.
Saint Jo tried to spread Blum out and gained a first down near midfield. Unfortunately, a bobbled snap move the ball back on first down and the Panthers could not make up the lost yardage as the Bobcats took over on downs again.
Blum again found some room to run, scoring on a 41-yard touchdown run to extend its lead to 38-24 as the tables had slowly, but surely been turned on Saint Jo.
The Panthers offense again went nowhere as the windy conditions made throwing hard. The Bobcats took over right as the quarter ended.
Blum made its way inside Saint Jo’s red zone to begin the fourth quarter. The Panthers defense showed some heart and faced a fourth and goal from the one-yard line. Unfortunately, the Bobcats scored on the play to extend the lead to 46-24.
All was not lost yet for Saint Jo. If the Panthers could score three touchdowns and convert all three two-point kicks, Saint Jo could win the game if its defense could get stops and the offense scored fast enough.
Saint Jo had not scored on its last five offensive drives dating back to the second quarter. Jones completed some passes and scrambled for some yards to move the ball down the field. Brawner scored on a short run to cut the lead to 46-30 as the kick was no good.
With 6:22 left in the game, the Panthers were down only two touchdowns if they converted both kicks. First they would need to stop the Bobcats and fast.
Blum instead slowly and methodically ran the ball down the field, taking almost four minutes off the clock before scoring on a short run with 2:36 left. The Bobcats were up three scores again 54-30.
Saint Jo tried to score as fast it could passing the ball, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs with 55 seconds left to close out its last hope on saving this season.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.