In a rivalry game that lived up to its hype, the Permian football team clinched a share of the District 2-6A title Friday with a 42-39 victory over the Midland Lee Rebels at Ratliff Stadium.
With the win, the Panthers finished the regular season at 6-4 overall, 4-1 in district play while the Rebels were dealt their first loss of the season, falling to 9-1, 4-1.
“It’s amazing,” Permian head coach Jeff Ellison said. “It’s crazy. It’s a result of everything that we’ve worked hard for over this year and all season ever since spring ball. We just did our jobs and we continued to get better each week. To beat a good football team like Midland Lee is amazing.”
The result gives Permian the district’s No. 1 seed in the Class 6A Division I bracket and the right to host its bi-district game against an as-yet-to-be-determined opponent.
“The number one thing is that our kids fought their tails off,” Midland Lee head coach Clint Hartman said. “We ran out of time. We made some mistakes.”
The Panthers got off to a rough start as they were forced to punt on their opening drive of the game.
The Rebels didn’t waste any time as they put together a six-play, 73-yard scoring drive that was completed when quarterback Mikey Serrano hooked up with wide receiver Christian Romero for a 7-yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt by Midland Lee, however, was no good as the Rebels’ early lead was 6-0 with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
Permian’s offense managed to find its footing on the Panthers’ second offensive drive of the night. Permian responded quickly as the Panthers drove 75 yards down the field in 12 plays, capped off with an 18-yard touchdown pass on a double reverse from wide receiver Alex Rose to quarterback Easton Hernandez to put the hosts on the board. Carson Roberts’ extra point gave Permian a 7-6 lead.
“Easton Hernandez had some big plays tonight,” Ellison said. “He scored one as a receiver. All around, it was a great team effort.”
The Panthers’ defense managed to force the Rebels to go three-and-out late in the first quarter and Permian entered the second quarter with a one-point advantage. The Panthers took advantage of the Rebels’ three-and-out as Permian used a five-play, 81-yard scoring drive that was completed when Hernandez connected with the Terran Limuel for a 26-yard touchdown to help give the Panthers a 14-6 lead with 11:09 left in the second quarter.
Lee’s offense had a swift response as Serrano found Hayden Hall on a 12-yard touchdown pass on the Rebels’ next drive. But PAT troubles continued to haunt the visitors as Lee missed the extra point, trailing 14-12 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.
Permian managed to burn some time off the clock and get points out of its next drive. Running back Malachi Medlock scored on a 3-yard run to give the Panthers a 21-12 lead with 3:58 remaining in the first half. The drive melted more than six minutes off the clock as the Panthers drove 65 yards down field in 11 plays.
The Lee offense put together its third scoring drive of the night soon after as Karl Taylor scored on a 1-yard run on a six-play drive covering 80 yards. The Rebels tried to go for two to make it a one-point game, but Serrano’s run came up short, leaving Permian with a 21-18 lead with 1:49 left in the second quarter.
Permian was forced to punt for the second time, but managed to hold off the Rebels offense before the end of the half to take a three-point lead at the break.
Davis got things going in the second half for the Rebels with a 3-yard touchdown run on Lee’s first drive of the third quarter. The extra point gave the Rebels a 25-21 lead.
Permian responded with two consecutive touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 35-25 lead in to the fourth
The Rebels used a 1-yard touchdown run by Taylor with 10:08 left in the game to pull to a 35-32 deficit.
Hernandez scored on a 27-yard run with 2:12 left in the game to put the icing on the cake for the Panthers.
The Rebels answered back with a three play, 33-yard drive in less than a minute with a 16-yard pass to Loic Fouonji with 1:29 left. But Permian recovered the onside kick with 1:25 left and took over at midfield.
The Rebels had one last chance when Permian was forced to punt with 23 seconds remaining, but Lee’s desperation pass with the clock expiring fell incomplete.
“They have an explosive offense,” Ellison said. “They’re a good football team but to hold them off was huge for our defense.”
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Michael Bauer is a sports reporter at the Odessa American. He can be reached at email@example.com at 432-333-7772 or on Twitter @.