Permian’s last two football games have been a tightrope act that would make the Wallenda family proud.

Head coach Jeff Ellison would likely prefer games that weren’t quite as stressful coming down the stretch.

For the second consecutive week, the Panthers were forced to rally in the second half in hopes of keeping their unblemished record in 2022 intact.

And, for the second straight contest, Permian was able to finish on the right side of the scoreboard.

Scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes, the Panthers came back for a 28-27 victory against Killeen Harker Heights in nondistrict play Friday at Ratliff Stadium.

Juzstyce Lara’s 1-yard dive over the right side and Tate Terry’s extra point gave Permian the lead for the first time with 16 seconds remaining in the game.

“I just didn’t think we played very well in the first half on either side of the ball,” Ellison said. “They are good football team, with a lot of speed, and it took our guys a second, actually a lot longer, to kind of get comfortable.

“We weren’t attacking the line of scrimmage. When we got settled down, I thought we were a different football team in the second half.”

It was role reversal for the Panthers (4-0) from the first half to the second and they needed some breaks to solidify the comeback.

Harker Heights running back Re’Shaun Sanford ran amok in the first half for the Knights (3-1), carrying the ball 17 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Dylan Plake passed for 128 yards in the first 24 minutes and added two scores as Harker Heights led, 27-7, at the break after amassing 294 yards of offense.

The Knights finished with 384.

“We didn’t really make too many adjustments at halftime,” Permian safety Bryce Woody said. “We weren’t playing very hard; we just had to play harder.

“Just had to play Permian football.”

The Panthers did just that in the second half, shutting down the Knights on their opening drive.

Though Permian couldn’t capitalize and was forced to kick the ball away, punter Jacob Franco flipped the field with a 63-yard effort that rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

Permian’s Jace Gilliam manufactured the first break when he intercepted a pass off the hands of a Knights’ receiver with eight minutes to play in the third quarter.

Enter Panthers’ quarterback Rodney Hall, who proceeded to orchestrate a 12-play, 60-yard drive that saw Lara dive over from the 2 for his first touchdown of the game with 2:03 remaining to play in the third quarter.

“We were pumped up on the sideline,” Hall said about the interception. “We knew that we needed to play better and we weren’t going to lose at home.”

After the Panthers’ score, Harker Heights was able to take time off the clock offensive and stopped one Permian drive with an interception deep in Knights’ territory with 8:40 remaining to play.

But the Permian defense was playing with renewed energy and force another punt with 5:53 to play in the game.

Hall, starting at his own 15, guided the Panthers 85 yards in nine plays for the score, a 31-yard touchdown to Ja’Quan Richardson, who made a diving catch in the end zone.

Permian trailed, 27-21, at the time and here comes the second break.

Terry pooched the kickoff short to the right of the field and Harker Heights fumble, with Permian’s Parker Haynes recovering the ball at the Knights’ 28.

But the Harker Heights’ defense stiffened and Permian was faced with a fourth-and-15 from the 33 to keep its comeback hopes alive.

That’s when Richardson used his speed for break No. 3, racing past a Knights’ defender, forcing him to hold and bump him to slow him down, subsequently earning a pass interference penalty.

Just two plays later, it was time for break No. 4 as Hall was pulled to the ground by his facemask.

Suddenly, the Panthers had first-and-goal at the 6 with less than two minutes on the clock.

Lara raced to the 1 on first down and then Panthers were called for an illegal substitution that move the ball back to the 6 on second down.

Again, Lara ran to the 1 and on third down, with everyone on the field and in the stands knowing what was coming, he drove over the right side of the line of scrimmage for the game-winner.

“Everyone knew, it wasn’t a secret what we were going to do,” Ellison said of the final play. “The offensive line was doing a great job and Lara was running hard.

“I proud of the way we played in the second half. They never stopped fighting.”

Terry then sent another pooch kick to the same spot and the Knights failed to cover it, allowing Permian to recover and run out the final 16 seconds.

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide