Sunday, August 26, 2012

FOOTBALL: Panthers start slow but heat up against Aztecs


VAN HORN Permian started sluggishly in its scrimmage against El Paso Dorado on Friday and trailed the Aztecs for the most of the evening.
As the night wore on, though, the Panthers gradually got stronger.
Permian, after being outscored 3-1 in the untimed portion of the scrimmage, dominated the live quarter that capped their day at Eagle Field. The Panthers’ defense forced two turnovers on downs deep in its own territory, got a late interception by Chase Miller and pitched a 12-minute shutout, while Jack Wilkins threw a pair of touchdown passes for the offense.
“I feel like we finished strong,” Permian receiver Matthew Molinar said. “We started off a little slow, but I feel like we picked it up at the end and did good.
The Permian offense, which was missing starting receiver Dez Daniels and starting H-back Mikorban Fields, hardly moved the ball until its third possession of the scrimmage. Two long runs around the left end by Jorrion Wilson, along with Molinar’s 24-yard reception on third down, set up a short touchdown run by Wilson.
On the offense’s next possession, which was its first possession of the live quarter, it scored again. Wilson ran a slant route from the backfield and caught a short pass from Wilkins, then saw open field and outran everybody for a 77-yard touchdown.
“Sometimes it doesn’t even work in practice, but that time it was wide open. Nobody even covered me around the edge,” Wilson said. “I was like booty naked, and Jack just dropped it on me. There was nothing but green grass in front of me then.”
Miller, who is competing for a starting spot at outside linebacker, set up the Panthers’ final score with an interception at the El Dorado 40-yard line with about two minutes left. Then, on third-and-goal from the 7 with less than 15 seconds left, Wilkins lobbed a pass in the end zone that Andrew Perez caught for the tying score of the scrimmage.
Molinar’s 14-yard reception on fourth down helped keep the drive alive, and he also had the first highlight of the day for the Permian offense. He tiptoed the left sideline, with a defender wrapped around him, to catch a scrambling throw by Wilkins on third-and-long.
“I was real pleased to see Matthew step up in Dez’s absence and play really well,” Permian offensive coordinator Robby Clark said, “blocking and receiving.”
The Permian defense, despite allowing three touchdowns overall and two to El Dorado’s second-team offense, also had some strong moments. The Panthers got a fumble and a sack on consecutive plays at one point, Troy Chavez and Avery Rodriguez had sacks during the live quarter, and there were the two red-zone stops that set the tone for the 12-minute period.
There also was Miller’s interception, which came courtesy of a tip by cornerback Javier Gavaldon.
“They had been running slants the whole game, and every time they ran a slant, they threw it there,” Miller said. “And Javier reminded me before that play. He helped me out on that one, and I kind of set up for it.”
Miller and Molinar, who hope their performances lead to more playing time, both said they expect the Panthers to have a good season. They also said the team has plenty to improve on before Friday’s regular-season opener at El Paso Montwood.
El Dorado coach Jim Althoff came away impressed with the explosiveness of Wilson, the senior running back who gained more than 1,000 yards a year ago, and with Permian’s team as a whole.
“He’s a tough kid,” Althoff said of Wilson, “and that offensive line is huge. I think the Permian Panthers are setting themselves up for a nice little season.”

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