by Cole Carrick
Although the Jaguars provided a few explosive plays that brought the crowd to its feet, the Panthers of Plano East took home the win in the first week of district play for 6A District 6 teams.
Senior linebacker Zachery Roberts started the game off with a bang when he intercepted a pass from Plano East’s Miklo Smalls, which gave the ball to the Jaguar offense to start the game. A swing pass from quarterback Noble Newton to Hayden Houser would give Flower Mound a first down, and a little momentum as they crossed the 50 yard-line into Panther territory.
However, on the next play, running back Ifeanyichukwu Uzowihe fumbled on the carry, which gave possession right back to Plano East.
After the interception on the first drive, Smalls seemed to settle into the game quite nicely, and led his team down the field for a touchdown drive that was capped off by a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Tim Wilson. This touchdown came on a fourth down with 6 yards to go, a gutsy call from Panthers head coach Joey McCullough.
However, Newton seemed determined not to let the early deficit define the game. He led the Jaguars down the field, converted three first down passes in a row, and ultimately punched in the touchdown on his own option keeper from the 1-yard line.
After giving up their first points of the game, the Panthers’ offense seemed ready to run, as sophomore running back Jonathan Meadors busted a 34-yard run to open the drive. A few plays later, another sophomore running back found an opening as Trey Hunter took an option pitch for six points.
Another Flower Mound turnover, this time an interception from Plano East defensive back Quan Beasley, would prove costly for the Jaguars.
Smalls showed some impressive elusiveness, avoiding being sacked in the backfield and delivering a touchdown strike to senior tight end Carson Young.
Defensive coordinator Sam Harrison had his hands full with Smalls all night, as the quarterback amassed three passing touchdowns despite the defensive pressure in the backfield.
The second half only provided more missed opportunities for Flower Mound. Although they scored on a 27-yard field goal from Josh Grant, the Jaguars were once again kept from the end zone. Their next offensive drive ended much quicker, as Newton was picked off by defensive back Reuben Donald, who took it to the house to make the lead 36-10 Panthers.
Newton would once again find the end zone, this time on a pass to receiver Brenden Alves. On the ensuing drive, Newton found Dylan Goerlich on fourth down and goal to bring the score to 36-24.
With a little over three minutes left in the game, Chandler Claterbaugh electrified the crowd when he stripped the ball from East receiver Cameron Moore, giving fans a glimmer of hope for a Jaguar win.
However, an incomplete pass from Newton on fourth down gave the ball back to the Panthers, effectively ending the game for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars’ look to get their first win as they head to McKinney to take on the McKinney Boyd Broncos.