WEST — The No. 7 Mart Panthers answered with haymakers every time West landed a punch on Friday night.
Finally, Panthers quarterback Jace Terry landed the knockout blow with a 38-yard touchdown pass over the top of the Trojans to Jalon Kirven early in the fourth quarter and Mart grasped a 43-12 victory at Trojan Stadium.
Mart held West to 139 yards of total offense, but the Trojans put together a drive late in the third quarter. West quarterback Nathan Gerik ran 18 yards for a touchdown that cut the Panthers’ lead to 21-12.
That’s when Terry went to work, running for nine yards plus a horse-collar penalty that helped Mart claw out of a second-and-22 from its own 28. Terry then threw a wide-receiver screen to Shatydrick Bailey to keep the Panthers’ momentum going into West territory and set up the big play.
“I just felt like it was time again to go play-action,” Mart coach Kevin Hoffman said. “They were really coming down hill on our running game. We went play action and went deep and fortunately hit it.”
Kirven caught the 38-yard dart in the end zone and Angel Ortiz’s extra point put Mart ahead 28-12 with 11:33 remaining.
“That was the one that really got us, that was kind of a deflating blow to us,” West coach David Woodard said. “They’re just a great team and kept battling back. They have some guys that really make plays and they made some plays when they had to make them.”
Terry passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Mart running back Tyrek Horne, who finished with 89 rushing yards on 11 carries broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run later in the fourth quarter as the Panthers (1-1) pulled away at the end.
On defense, the Panthers stood up to West’s power running game. The Trojans (1-1) stomped Rockdale in their opener last week, but couldn’t contain Mart.
“We hope that this will help us down the road when we play some teams that try to play smash-mouth with us,” Hoffman said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times in the beginning. We told the kids at halftime to just stick with the game plan, do what we do and keep playing on defense like we’re playing and things will work out.”
Mart marched 62 yards for a touchdown on its first possession to grab the lead in the first quarter.
Panthers running back Roddrell sparked the drive with a 14-yard run on first down from the Mart 38 and Terry later added a key 17-yard rush to the West 10.
With the abundance of great football being played in Central Texas these days — the China Sp…
The Trojans defense forced Mart into a fourth-and-goal from the 8, but Terry was up to the challenge. He connected with Zamar Kirven for an eight-yard touchdown that staked the Panther to a 6-0 lead.
After struggling to convert PATs last week, Mart again failed twice in the first half.
West struggled on offense, but tied the game in the first quarter when Kayman Harold recovered a Panther fumble and took it 43-yards for a touchdown. Mart blocked the Trojans extra point and the game stayed tied with 5:23 left in the opening quarter.
However, Mart retook the lead quickly as Jalon Kirven returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards for a score. The special teams TD gave the Panthers a 12-6 lead they took to halftime.