It was just one of those games.
Penalties at the wrong time, a fumble in the wrong part of the field, missed extra points, and calls not going the way of the 13-0 Navarro Panthers — all contributed to end the 2019 season.
The Panthers had the rematch with Wimberley on Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, this time for the right to go on to the 4A-II state semifinal.
The Navarro side of the stands was awash in purple, as the Panther faithful filled the west side of the indoor stadium.
Anticipation was high for the game, as most believed Navarro would take the next step toward a state championship.
Navarro had handled Wimberley in October after falling behind 14-0. The Panthers would go on to score 42 unanswered points against the Texans and win the game.
Friday’s game started eerily similar, as the Texans again scored two touchdowns early, and the Panthers were once again in comeback mode.
The Texans got a huge play on a 4th-and-4 on the opening drive, the pass to the goalline caught for the touchdown to take the 7-0 lead.
After Navarro’s opening series stalled, a short punt gave the Texans great field position for the second drive of the game and they scored again, this time on a 31-yard pass play.
Navarro fans were stunned with the two early scores, but it was about to get even more difficult on the next series.
The Panthers fumbled inside their own 10-yard-line, and the Texans took advantage on the next play, with their third straight touchdown pass of the game — and the lead was 21-0 with the game still in the first quarter.
It was more than a tough start to the game.
Navarro head coach Rod Blount, sensing some tightness in his Panthers, used two timeouts and was seen on the huge video screens around the stadium in the huddle telling his guys to relax. Navarro responded with their first touchdown drive of the game, but in another instance of things just not going well, missed the extra point to trail 21-6.
Coach Blount rolled the dice on the Panthers next series, going for it on a fourth down in their end of the field, but an open pass was thrown just behind the receiver and Navarro turned it over on downs.But the Panthers got a huge stop on Wimberley’s final drive of the half to keep the game within reach, and went into halftime just needing a score to get back in the contest.
At the start of the third quarter, the Panthers got their chance on their first series, when running back Johnny Alegria broke free for a 63-yard run, and was tackled just short of the goalline.
Then came the crucial play of the game — and the most controversial.
On a 4th-and-goal inside the one-yard-line, the Panthers’ Nick Billings ran the quarterback sneak, and it took the officials a moment to unpile everyone and make the call.
They called him short, and on the replay on the video screens around the stadium it appeared that Billings had got in, his body sitting on the goalline after the tackle was made. An animated Coach Blount argued with the officials for a moment, but without success.
The score would have made it a one touchdown game — the Panthers would have been back in it.
A penalty on the Panthers moved the ball away from the goalline, and 85 yards later, the Texans got the fourth touchdown pass of the game to go up 28-6.
Navarro would score again to make it 28-12, after another missed PAT, but were unable to stop the Texans and get the ball back and would eventually fall in the regional final 42-12.
It’s rare that you see a game where things just don’t go right the entire game, but that was the feeling at the Alamodome on Friday afternoon.
The Panthers had an amazing season.
Anytime you can win 13 games, go undefeated until the last game of the year and advance this far into the playoffs, it’s more than a successful season.
But you know the players and coaches had more in mind for 2019.