BLANKET — Undefeated season. Check. Earn a spot in the playoffs. Check. Become Class A Division II Region IV bi-district champions. Check.
The 10th-ranked, undefeated District 15 champion Blanket Tigers made the latter a reality Thursday night, courtesy of a 75-30 victory over District 16 runner up Panther Creek Panthers.
The Panthers (5-5) struck first, when Matthew Morris, who led Panther Creek in rushing, darted in from 11 yards out to give his team an 8-0 lead. The Tigers (11-0), looking to answer with their own score, eventually turned the ball over on downs on their first offensive possession. Kameron Spivey, who has led the Tigers in recent weeks with nearly 1,100 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns was the highlight of Blanket’s second drive, capping it off by hurdling over a Panther defender to tie the game.
The Panthers’ next drive began with a sack by Blanket’s Tyler Simpson for a 20-yard loss, followed by a pick-six by Hector Castenada, giving the Tigers a 14-8 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Panthers tied the game at 14 after a Brayan Avila 7-yard catch and run. Not to be outdone, and less than 30 seconds later, the Tigers found the endzone once again, as Simpson grabbed a 65-yard pass from Spivey.
The Tiger defense, which had been only allowing an average of 11 points and 151 yards per game, struggled to stop the Panther Creek at times.
“I know we are on a short week, but we had problems attacking the rusher,” said head coach Tyler Tabor. “I knew Coach (Cameron) Norris was going to have his team ready and he was going to have some things ready for us.”
Both teams continued to score as the first half came to an end, with Blanket leading 34-22 behind Spivey’s power rushing attack.
“We were able to be physical running the ball and that is something we need to continue doing,” Tabor said.
Panther Creek’s final scoring drive of the game came with around six minutes left in the third quarter. At that point, the Tigers began to dominate.
A 30-yard rushing score by Spivey, followed by a one-point conversion gave Blanket a 56-30 lead. Another interception return for a touchdown by Castenada increased that lead to 62-30. Running scores by Castenada and Spivey put the game away at the beginning of the final quarter.
Tabor said there is one important aspect moving forward in the playoffs. “We have to be physical running the ball and we have got to just keep moving the chains.”
Blanket will advance to face either Oakwood (7-3) or McDade (7-3) — who play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bryan’s Allen Academy — next week in second round playoff action.