COLLINSVILLE – The 2A, No. 6-ranked Collinsville Panthers scored early and often throughout Friday’s 54-28 shootout victory over the North Sand Mountain Bison.
The win moves the Panthers to 3-0 to start their 100th season and gives them a 1-0 start in regional play.
Friday’s shootout started with a defensive stand though as North Sand Mountain came up short on a 4th-and-1 from their own 34 on their opening drive.
Collinsville’s leading rushers Kaleb Jones and Malachi Orr then quickly put the Panthers on the board with a short scoring drive that ended on a 1-yard keeper by Jones, which was his first of six total touchdowns of the night.
Jason Perez followed with his first of five PATs to make the score 7-0.
The Bison quickly answered back just two plays into their next drive when Fernando Luna broke several tackles on his way to the end zone on a 66-yard touchdown run. The Bison missed their PAT though to make the score 7-6 midway through the first.
The Panthers’ next drive saw Orr carry the load. Starting from their own 45, Orr had a 28-yard pickup and followed it with a 27-yard touchdown run where he spun away from multiple defenders and made the score 14-6.
Collinsville’s defense then came up with another fourth-down stop near midfield before Kaleb Jones took the Panthers’ next snap and took off for a 35-yard gain. Orr nearly scored a play later on a 12-yard pickup. Jones then capped it off with another score from a yard out to make the lead 21-6 at the end of the first.
After a three-and-out from the Bison, it looked like Collinsville would put the game out of reach early until Bison senior Damon Gentle picked off a pass from Jones and returned near midfield.
North Sand Mountain then marched 57 yards on six plays and scored on a 15-yard strike from quarterback Landon Green to Cade Bell. Luna punched in a 2-point conversion to cut Collinsville’s lead to seven with 7:46 left in the half.
Collinsville faced third-and-long quickly on their next possession, but converted on a 16-yard strike from Jones to Dalton Hughes over the middle. Five plays later, Jones called his own number and outran the Bison defense down the left sideline on a 37-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers then pulled off a surprise onside kick that was recovered by Myles Underwood. Collinsville then threw more trickery at the Bison with a flea flicker play that resulted in a 41-yard completion from Jones to Garrett Skelton that moved the ball down the NSM 1-yard line. Jones then punched it in once more. Collinsville missed their PAT and went into the half up 34-14.
The Panthers stayed hot offensively to start the third. They opened the half with a 9-play, 58-yard drive that ended on a long touchdown pass from Jones to Michael Tucker after a holding penalty had the Collinsville offense facing first-and-goal from 25 yards out. The PAT was no good again and made the score 40-14.
After a quick three-and-out from NSM, Jones and Tucker connected again on a 22-yard swing pass to make the lead 47-14 late in the third.
Green fired two late touchdown passes in the fourth. The first was a 22-yarder to Derek Bearden and the latter was a 30-yard strike to Gentle.
Jones’ final touchdown of the night came on a 38-yard dash with 3:06 left in regulation. He finished with 158 yards and four touchdowns rushing and completed 5-of-9 passes for 112 yards and two scores.
Orr racked up 126 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the win.
Both teams will stay in Region 8 next week as Collinsville travels to Fyffe and North Sand Mountain takes on Asbury at home.