RANGELY I The Rangely Junior High School Panther football team opened up its 2016 season by traveling to Kremmling to take on the Mustangs of West Grand Middle School. Despite a good second half, the Panthers had dug themselves too deep a hole to come all the way back.
After a slow, sluggish start, the Panthers began to get the offense rolling in the second half of the game.
Despite trailing 22-0 at the halftime mark, the Panthers were able to score on a long run from eighth-grade quarterback Anthony Lujan. Lujan scampered 63 yards for the score and also to add the two-point conversion.
The Panther defense was able to tighten down as well in the second half and was sparked by eighth grade outside linebacker Gabriel Polley. Polley was able to step in front of a pass from West Grand and return it down the right sideline for a touchdown to put the Panthers down 22-14. Lujan was able to punch in the two-point conversion to bring the score to 22-16 with the Panthers trailing.
The West Grand offense was able to capitalize on missed tackles by the Panthers and score on a long run by their quarterback.
With the Panthers returning to the offensive side of the football, quarterback Lujan was able to connect with tight end Gabriel Polley for a 72-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 30-22. After a long offensive series for the Mustangs the Panthers found themselves down 38-22 with less than four minutes left in the ball game.
Anthony Lujan was again able to break another long run off the left side of the offense to bring the Panthers to within a single touchdown, but an ultimately crucial first down with under 1 minute and 30 seconds left in the game allowed the Mustangs to kneel with the ball and run the clock out.
The Panthers showed great determination to not give up when down at halftime and to bring the game back within reach.
The Panthers will continue to strive for excellence this week in practice and will take on the Rams of Soroco Middle School on Friday at 11 a.m. They ask for all to come and support the Panthers in their game.