Panthers miss playoff cut with district loss to Kilgore Bulldogs

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Bullard Panthers 25, Kilgore Bulldogs 56, FINAL

BHS: 19 0 6 0 - 25

KHS: 0 21 28 7 - 56

For the final contest in the 2017 regular season, the Bullard Panther varsity football team loaded the buses and traveled to take on their last Conference 4A Division 1 District 9 opponent, the Kilgore Bulldogs, Friday, Nov. 10, at Kilgore High School.

The contest between Bullard and Kilgore held playoff implications for both teams, with the victorious team claiming a playoff spot.

In the first quarter of play, the visiting Panthers were the first team to light up the scoreboard in the district contest, as senior quarterback Cleet Bowman fired a 65-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ty Crayton. The extra point attempt by senior kicker Will McCowin was successful, giving Bullard an early 7-0 lead over Kilgore.

Bullard added to their lead in the middle of the opening quarter thanks to the legs and strength of senior wide receiver Brody Mullican, who broke through the Kilgore defense for a one-yard touchdown rush. McCowin’s extra point attempt was unsuccessful; however, the Panthers led the Bulldogs, 13-0.

Just before the end of the first quarter, the Panthers were on the prowl offensively once again, as Bowman’s pass connected with senior wide receiver McCowin for a 27-yard touchdown strike. Despite his touchdown, the Panthers’ extra point kick by McCowin was no good, limiting Bullard to a 19-0 lead.

The Kilgore offensive unit began to find success against the Panther defense in the second quarter, as a Bulldog running back raced his way past the grasps of the Bullard defensive line for a two-yard rushing touchdown. With a successful extra point attempt, Bullard lead over Kilgore was narrowed, 19-7.

The Bulldogs ‘ offense continued to bite at the Panther defense in the second frame, pushing their way across the goal line for a three-yard touchdown score. Kilgore’s extra point attempt sailed through the uprights, cutting the Panthers’ lead to just a 19-14 advantage.

For the first time in the district ballgame, the home team Bulldogs were able to take the lead over the visiting Panthers, as a Kilgore running back ran his way into the end zone with a nine-yard rush. The Bulldogs’ kicker continued to provide his team with successful extra point attempts, as Kilgore led Bullard, 21-19, at the halftime intermission.

After returning to the field for the second half of gridiron, the Bulldogs continued to capitalize on offensive opportunities, moving the ball downfield well and setting up a three-yard rushing touchdown by the team’s running back. With a successful extra point attempt by the Bulldogs, Kilgore increased their advantage to a 28-19 lead over the Bullard.

The Panthers also found their way into the end zone during the third quarter of play, with Bowman locating Crayton for the second time in the contest, this time connecting for a 50-yard touchdown pass. The Panther coaching staff elected to attempt a two-point conversion after the touchdown, but the attempt failed. After the score, Bullard narrowed Kilgore’s lead, 28-25.

The home team Bulldogs used the strength of their running game to make their way around the Panther defense and into the end zone, as a Kilgore running back outpaced defenders en route to a 42-yard touchdown run. As the Bulldogs’ kicker provided his team with the successful extra point attempt, Kilgore held a 35-25 lead over Bullard.

Kilgore’s special teams unit was able to make noise late in the third quarter of play, as the team received a Panther punt and raced the ball past the Bullard squad and across the goal line for a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown. The leg of the Kilgore kicker continued the streak of successful extra points, putting Kilgore on top of Bullard, 42-25.

Near the end of the third frame, Kilgore found their way around the Panther defense and down field for a touchdown once again, this time coming off a 33-yard rush. With the success of the team’s extra point kick, the Bulldogs’ lead over the Panthers increased to a 49-25 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Kilgore continued to locate the end zone well, shoving their way past the opposition’s defense en route to a six-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs’ kicker successfully converted the team’s extra point kick, allowing the home team Kilgore to lead the visitors from Bullard, 56-25.

At the final buzzer of the district contest, the Bulldogs were able to recover, overcoming a 19-point deficit to claim the victory over the Panthers, 56-25.

Despite the score, Bowman was a leader for the Panthers at the quarterback position, completing 13 of his 26 passing attempts for 210 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, while throwing one interception. Sophomore quarterback Tristen Shewmake also saw action under center for the Panthers against the Bulldogs, but failed to complete any of his three total passing attempts.

In the team’s passing game, Bullard was led by Crayton in total receptions and receiving yardage, catching six passes for 141 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Other significant contributors for the Panthers’ receivers against the Bulldogs included McCowin, with two catches for 37 yards and one receiving touchdown; senior wide receiver Aaron Smith, with one catch for 24 yards; and senior wide receiver Jagger Haynie, with one catch for 11 yards.

The Bullard rushing game was led by the legs of senior running back Luke Bowman, with 17 rushing attempts for 42 yards.

Other significant rushers for the Panthers against the Bulldogs included senior running back Brody Mullican, with five rushes for 35 yards; Shewmake, with four rushes for 21 yards; sophomore running back Latrez Young, with four rushes for 15 yards; Crayton, with two rushes for 14 yards; Smith, with one rush for six yards; and senior running back Cade Duvak, with two rushes for three yards.

Defensively, the Panthers were anchored by the quartet of senior line backer Mullican, senior linebacker Thomas Brooks, junior defensive back Damion Brown, and junior defensive back Landry Lasseter, all compiling five tackles in the contest against Kilgore.

Other key defensive contributors for the Panthers against the Bulldogs included junior defensive back Whitney Parks, with three tackles; junior defensive lineman Devin Lewis, with three tackles; and junior defensive lineman Dakota Walsworth, with two tackles.

With the loss to the Kilgore Bulldogs, the Bullard panther varsity football team finished the 2017 regular season with an overall record of 3-7, 2-4 in district play, missing the cut for the UIL playoffs.

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