In a game where both the Permian and the Odessa High football teams looked to make a statement on offense, it was the Panthers’ defense that played a big part in the 24-0 victory Friday night at Ratliff Stadium.
Prior to Friday’s edition of the crosstown rivalry, the Panthers (3-3 overall, 1-0 in District 2-6A) had outscored their last two opponents 103-28.
Odessa High (2-4, 0-1) meanwhile, was coming off an offensive fireworks display in its last game, a 44-33 win over Harlingen South.
Instead, only a field goal by Permian’s Carson Roberts separated the teams after the first quarter.
Interceptions from the Panthers’ defense helped spark the Permian offense to take a 17-0 halftime lead.
It was the first shutout of the season for the Panthers, who held the Bronchos to just 112 total yards, just 17 on the ground.
And it was a steady improvement for a defensive unit that had allowed 132 points in Permian’s first three games of the season but had allowed 28 total points combined from the last two games.
“It’s great,” Ellison said. “Those guys played their tails off. They were flying all over the place in practice and it carried over today.”
Both teams also had quarterbacks that saw playing time who had been battling injuries this season.
Odessa High’s Ivan Miranda played the majority of the second half, coming back from an injury, while Permian’s Easton Hernandez made his first start for the Panthers since the season opener against DeSoto on Aug. 30 in which he injured a shoulder.
Hernandez played the majority of the game.
“He hasn’t played football in a while so it was good for him to get his feet wet a little bit,” Ellison said. “It was his first time playing in like four or five weeks and there were things that we need to work on but he did well tonight and he’ll get better.”
But both teams’ defenses controlled much of the first half. Only a 32-yard field goal by Permian’s Carson Roberts populated the scoring summary for the Panthers after the first quarter.
Permian’s defense managed five sacks for the night.
Permian’s first takeaway of the night was an interception by Kayden Baze, picking off Diego Cervantes at the OHS 28 before the end of the first quarter. But Hernandez couldn’t make much of the opportunity and the Bronchos’ defense forced a turnover on downs early in the second quarter.
He would eventually find his groove.
Hernandez had a few big moments, orchestrating a six-play, 91-yard scoring drive on which he ran for 21 yards on a keeper late in the second quarter. He picked up another first down on a 10-yard carry before Malachi Medlock scored the first touchdown for the Panthers from 20 yards.
But Odessa High’s defense held steady most of the half. Numerous times in the first half, the Panthers couldn’t make much of good field position and were forced to punt.
“I thought our defense played lights out,” Odessa High head coach Danny Servance said. “They played with short field for most of the night. I thought they played lights out. Permian has a very good offense. They’re physical and fast. I thought our kids did a terrific job.”
Odessa High, on the other hand, found itself pinned back in its own territory a couple of times throughout the night and had a difficult time getting much going. And when it could, Permian’s defense managed to survive a few close calls.
In the end, it was Permian’s defense that was able to make the majority of the key stops.
Cervantes overthrew J.C. Ramirez on what could have been a touchdown reception. On the following play, Cervantes again couldn’t hook up with Ramirez in the end zone and the Bronchos had to punt.
Dashavion Williams recorded the Panthers’ second interception of the day and the Bronchos’ third turnover thus far.
That turnover eventually led to a Permian touchdown by Hernandez before halftime on a 17-yard carry.
Permian’s offense eventually got going as a 43-yard touchdown run by Bra’dyn Brooks-Smith with 5:45 left in the third quarter kept the Panthers in control.
The Panthers will look to maintain their winning streak and strong start to district play against Amarillo Tascosa next week at Ratliff Stadium.
Michael Bauer is a sports reporter at the Odessa American. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org at 432-333-7772 or on Twitter @.