BULLARD – The Bullard Panthers made the most of Senior Night, beating Canton 57-36, in a big District 74A-DII match up, clinching a playoff spot on a cold and crisp Friday night, at Panther Stadium.
After a three lead changes and a 22-21 halftime lead, the Panthers line play finally began to make a difference as the Panthers scored 35-points in the final two quarters to earn the playoff bid.
Bullard quarterback, Tristen Shewmake once again led the way with strong running, along with some clutch completions as he amassed a total of 396- yards (214-yards rushing; 182-yards passing). The senior ran for scores from 1-, 4-, 12-, and 28-yards, and threw for another TD to a speedy Nic Hooley in the win.
Running back, Bryson Luscombe had a good night with three touchdowns, and totaling out with69-yards in 13 tries. Hooley had another stellar night with seven receptions, good for 99-yards, his 22-yard tally, and a long gainer of 26-yards.
The Panthers got rolling as they capped off a seven play drive that took up 2:30 off the clock when Tristen Shewmake set up the score with a sweep inside the Eagles 5-yard line. Shewmake then rumbled in for the final yard, and the Ivan Ruiz was good on his first of seven point-after-touchdown blasts.
The Eagles stormed back with a nine-play rally of their own, sparked by two big pass plays by quarterback, Chris Hobbs.
The senior signal-caller then found classmate, Cooper Smith for a 21-yard scoring strike, but a PAT kick missed wide for a 7-6 ballgame after one quarter rolled out.
After Eagle, Noah Stubblefield intercepted a Shewmake pass, Canton got another huge pass play to take a lead.
Two plays later, running back Chris Cade went up to make a circus catch and raced in for a 62-yard TD. Hobbs found Smith for the PAT pass completion, and a 14-7 scoreboard with 9:30 before intermission.
The Eagles upped the lead behind two more big completions by Hobbs. Hobbs first connected with Kale Shaw for a 48-yard, first down at the Bullard 24-yard line.
Two plays later, Cade finished off the 5-play drive with an 8-yard sweep to pay dirt.
Eagle kicker, Nathan Goodsen was good with the PAT boot and a 21-7, Canton advantage with 5:44 remaining.
Shewmake went to work with his legs and arm bringing his squad back quickly.
Conner Carson flagged down a pass and raced to the Eagle 22-yard line.
Facing a fourth down, and 10-yards for a first down, Shewmake threw a blazer to Hooley for the final 22-yards for the score, capping the six-play drive that only took 44-seconds.
The ensuing Eagle drive was a three-play, and punt scenario with the Panthers taking the ball at their own 32-yard line.
Passing was key in the next possession as Hooley hauled in a 14-yard aerial, while Bryce Jewell made a big grab down to the Canton 22-yard line again. Another Hooley snag set up the Panthers at the 9-yard line, and a Eagles penalty aided Bullard down to the 4-yard line.
Shewmake rolled in from there, and added some extra flavor in a special team’s recovery.
The senior captain made the 4-yard score, and then showed his athleticism regaining the lead. The PAT snap rolled back to Shewmake the holder, and he made like an infielder and made the scoop.
The senior rolled right and found classmate, Latrez Young in the end zone for a two-point conversion and 22-21 halftime lead.
Shewmake and running back, Bryson Luscombe followed the line in the second half.
Led by Tanner Fowler, Alex Evans, Peyton Ellis, and Kade Verden, the big boys upfront led the way to the post season.
The next drive included Luscombe with two sizeable carries, in the 11-play drive, while Shewmake hit Hooley again for a big gain to the Canton 14-yard line.
Two plays later Luscombe bulled in the final yard and his first score of the game, and Ruiz booted a 29-21, Panther lead again,
The Eagles came back for one final tie of the game.
Running back, Jatavian McGee ran in from 8-yards, and the Goodsen true boot run at 6:02, made the 29-29 deadlock.
Bullard then went high-octane, putting up two scores in 2:30 but the defense stopper of the night really changed the game in between the scores.
Shewmake and crew were facing third down and goal at the 14-yard line after two penalties backed up the Panthers drive. Shewmake called his own number and turned the corner for his 14-yard scoring jaunt.
Conner Carson next made the home crowd happy with the first Bullard interception coming out of the Panther end zone, and returned ball out to midfield.
Three plays later Shewmake legged out a 28-yard sprint for a score, and Ruiz stayed perfect on PAT’s, and a 43-29 score after three quarters.
Luscombe added to his night with his second score on a 10-yard scoring run, for a three-score lead at the 9:13 mark.
The Eagles final points came from Smith making another TD grab from 20-yards, and a Goodsen PAT kick made it a 50-36 contest with 7:34 left in the game.
Bullard then capped off the scoreboard as Luscombe clawed in from 1-yard out. Capping off the final point of the night, senior kicker Caleb Carmichael came on to make it an 8-for-8 kicking ledger for the night.
The final big play of the night went to freshman, Stephen Kemp as he stepped in to intercept an Eagle pass on their last possession of the game and seal the score, 57-36.
The Panthers (3-7; 2-2), will now face Mexia next Friday night in the first round of the playoffs.