ODESSA, TX — Following an off week, the San Angelo Central Bobcats traveled to Odessa seeking another district victory against the Permian Panthers at Ratliff Stadium Friday night, Oct. 22. The Bobcats, who went into their bye week coming off a significant 41-17 win over the Midland High Bulldogs, looked to take another positive step in the direction of a postseason bid. Although the Bobcats’ defense played incredibly well all game, the offense’s inability to finish drives once inside Permian’s 20-yard line ultimately felled the Bobcats’ chances of a victory. Mojo won it, 21-7.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Panthers began their first drive at the 30-yard line. A combination of strong running by QB Rodney Hall and the two other running backs, Tristan Johnson and Josh Wheeler, Permian drove the ball across midfield and into scoring position. However, faced with a 4th and 3 to go at the Central 30-yard line, the Bobcats stonewalled the Panthers at the line.
The solid defensive effort by the ‘Cats allowed the offense to take over at the Central 28-yard line. QB1 Tyler Hill and the rest of the offense wasted no time at all to get the ball rolling. Gaining most of the yards through the air, Hill connected with multiple receivers on his way to the endzone. Baylor Johnson had a 10-yard catch that saved the drive on 3rd down near midfield. Hill then connected with WR Keevon Rice for a 32-yard deep pass to put the ball on the 3-yard line. Hill kept it himself on a quarterback keeper two plays later, and the Bobcats struck first, 7-0.
Permian took over for their second drive of the night at their own 13-yard line. QB Hall ripped off a massive 65-yard sprint down the field to put the Panthers into scoring range for the second time. A poor handoff on the next play put the ball on the turf, and an opportunistic S Ty Casey dove on the ball for the Bobcats’ first takeaway.
Following the Bobcat takeaway, Central’s offense took over at their own 18-yard line. On the first play, Keevon Rice made a jaw-dropping catch, twisting his body all the way around in the air for 37-yards to the Mojo 48-yard line. Rice made another catch for an additional 18-yards to put the Bobcats inside the Mojo 30-yard line. Hill connected with Cayden Box to push the ball into the red zone. Two runs for minimal gains left the ‘Cats with a 3rd and long at Permian’s 20-yard line. An errant backward pass by Hill lost the Bobcats an additional 12 yards. Faced with a 4th and forever, the ‘Cats turned the ball over on downs at the Permian 32-yard line.
Permian wasted no time after the stop. Hall continued to have success on the ground, ripping off another 23-yard gain. The ‘Cats defensive front continued to stand tough, but slowly, Mojo pushed them back farther and farther towards their endzone. Jacoby Yates had a touchdown-saving deflection in the endzone, where anything but perfect coverage resulted in points for the Panthers. The Bobcats stopped the Panthers on 3rd down inside the 20, but a personal foul gave the Permian a first down at the 9-yard line. The Bobcats stopped the Panthers for the second time in a row on 3rd down, but once again, a penalty gave the Panthers one more chance at points. A quarterback sneak at the 1-yard line tied the game at 7-7 with 5:05 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bobcats’ offense took over at the 36-yard line after the previous touchdown. Three plays for minimal gain forced the Bobcats to punt. A short punt gave the Panthers back the ball at the Permian 40-yard line. Time was not on the Panthers’ side; so their typical running game did not cut it. Hall had to move the ball through the air. The Bobcats played solid defense and held Permian to a 33-yard field goal with just under a minute to go in the half. Permian took the lead, 10-7.
Central had one more chance to score before the half. Hill connected with Rice for 48-yards to put the ball just outside the Permian 20-yard line. However, a missed field goal by the ‘Cats left the score unchanged the Bobcats headed to the locker room down three at the half.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Bobcat offense failed to do anything with the possession. One short run and two incomplete passes had the Bobcats punting the ball away. Another short punt and an excellent return gave the Panthers the ball at the Central 34-yard line. Permian’s triple-option attack got to work at this point and ground out tough yards. The Bobcats continued to play solid assignment defense and did not allow explosive plays. Faced with a 3rd and goal at the 2-yard line, Darius Floyd (our running back turned defensive tackle) broke through the line and stuffed the Permian running back for a three-yard loss. The ‘Cats D held Mojo to another field goal, this time from 21 yards, and Mojo extended their lead, 13-7.
The ‘Cats offense took over at the 29-yard line. They struggled to move the ball, but Hill exploded for 24-yards on 3rd and 12 to midfield. Hill continued to struggle in the passing game following the run. Two straight incompletions and a sack forced the ‘Cats to punt again. A good punt this time around pinned Permian at the 15-yard line.
Central’s defense came back onto the field needing to stop the Permian offense, and they delivered. Permian failed to convert a single first down, and the Bobcats forced a 3-and-out of their own. Bobcats took over at the Permian 35-yard line.
Offensive woes continued for Central even as their defense handed them back the ball. A penalty on third down moved the ‘Cats well out of field goal range, but a 14-yard run by Tyler Hill set the Bobcats up with a 4th and 6 at the 31-yard line. Another failed pass attempt on 4th down turned the ball back over to the Panthers.
The Bobcats’ D delivered their first sack of the night, entering the 4th quarter. Permians’ Hall rolled out to try and pass the ball deep, but LB Jayden Limon got to him first and dropped the quarterback for a loss of eleven. Although the ‘Cats got the sack on first down, efficient passing by the Panthers kept the drive alive. The Panthers then kept the ball on the ground the rest of the way and scored a touchdown from 1-yard out while taking an additional five minutes off of the clock. After that, the Panthers pulled further away, and after a successful 2-point conversion, led the Bobcats 21-7.
Tyler Hill failed to escape pressure on the ‘Cats ensuing drive. On back-to-back plays, the Mojo defense blew past the Bobcats O-line and got to Hill. Hill lost a total of 22 yards on the two sacks. Facing a 3rd and 32, Hill tucked the ball and ran to recover 20 of those 22 yards. Now faced with a 4th and 12, the Bobcats failed to convert, and Permian took over at the Central 38-yard line.
The Defense delivered for a final time after the turnover on downs. Odessa Permian managed to drain some time off of the clock, but the Bobcat defense held fast. The Panthers failed to get the first down on a 4th and long, and the ‘Cats offense took over at the 27-yard line.
Hill and company approached desperation mode as time in the game kept trickling away. With less than five minutes left to play in the game, the offense had to score. Hill connected on a 52-yard bomb to Jacob English to get the drive going, and then Hill ran the ball himself for 14-yards the next play. Hill completed another pass to Cayden Box inside the 15-yard line and set Central up with a 1st and goal. Tragedy struck for the Bobcats on the ensuing play. Hill sprinted out to the right with Navarrette in tow on a speed option. The Mojo defense collapsed on Hill, and Hill pitched the ball out to Navarrette at the 3-yard line. Unfortunately, Hill pitched the ball too far in front of Navarrette, and the ball ended up on the turf. Mojo recovered and dashed the Bobcat’s hopes of a comeback. The Bobcats fought incredibly hard all game and, overall, played outstanding. However, the inability to produce in the red zone eventually sunk the ‘Cats and led to defeat.
San Angelo Central hosts the Midland Legacy Rebels next week on Oct. 29 at 7 pm at San Angelo Stadium.
Here is San Angelo Central Bobcats Head Football Coach Kevin Crane reacting to the game: