LAS ANIMAS- The John Mall Panthers won their second game of the season last Friday after defeating the Las Animas Trojans in convincing fashion, 41-12. It was the Panthers’ first league and first road victory since Oct. 12, 2007 when they beat Las Animas, 17-14.
The Panthers came to life midway in the first quarter. Charlie Whitehead did well controlling the offense and the clock. The Panthers’ Clayton Archuleta exploded for 310 offensive yards, including a 97-yard touchdown return, a 30-yard touchdown scramble and a 32-yard reception from Whitehead for a touchdown. After the game, Coach Berger said of Archuleta, “He is in a class all by himself out there. He dominated every aspect of the game. He is one of the best players in the league.”
Overall, the Panthers’ performance was their best offensive output since the 2007 season and the most decisive defensive show for the Cats all season. The Cats held the Trojans scoreless in the first half, shutting down running back Lonnie Sikes and Darrel Howe and quarterback Jeff Gonzales. The Panthers sacked Gonzales four times, including a crushing blow after which he was carried off the field by ambulance in the fourth quarter. The defense also had three picks and three fumble recoveries.
Coach Berger commented, “I was very happy with the game Friday night. I felt like going into the game we could dominate if we could play for four quarters.” That they did.
Whitehead finished the evening completing 7 out of 11 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Harriman’s lone reception was for 21 yards and a TD. Jacob Wiggins also rushed for a score. He had four carries for 36 yards and one catch for ten. Brian Aguirre carried the ball five times for 30 yards and caught three for 35. It was a well-balanced performance.
The Panthers hope to carry their momentum into this Saturday’s game against the Crowley County Chargers who are in sole possession of second place in the Sante Fe League.
A victory will put the Cats in a three-way tie for second place. In order to gain a spot in the divisional playoffs, the Panthers must score at least 21 points and hold Crowley to 8, based on a complex tie breaker rule imposed by CHSAA.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm. This will be the last home game of the season so fans are encouraged to cheer them into the playoffs. If the Cats fail to make the playoffs, then the game against Custer County which was rescheduled will be played Nov. 7.