After a few seasons away from the Texas high school football playoffs, a late surge and a little bit of help put the Kingwood Park Panthers back in the playoff mix for the first time since 2014.
The Panthers beat the Humble Wildcats 31-17, and thanks to a 10-7 win by Porter over Barbers Hill, the Panthers advance to Texas high school football’s second season.
Early in the game, the Panthers got off to a slow start, and the Wildcats took advantage. After an interception deep in their own end, the Wildcats capped the ensuing drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Chase Pena to Andrew Tisdale.
But, in the second quarter, the Panthers woke up with two quick scores; first, Daniel Breskow scored from 2 yards out to tie the game after a key defensive stand.
Moments later, Park recovered a fumble on a bad snap and Desmond Benjamin scored from 2 yards out.
After Humble kicked a field goal to cut the Park lead to 14-10 at halftime, the Panthers put the game out of reach with a strong third quarter. In that quarter, the Panthers got touchdown runs from Sam Johansen and Immanuel McElroy, plus a field goal, for a 31-10 lead.
Tisdale scored one more touchdown catch for the Wildcats but late in the fourth, Johansen picked off Pena, sealing the win. Moments later, the announcement that Porter had beaten Barbers Hill set off a celebration on the Park side of the field.
The Panthers playoff run begins on Friday night in New Caney against Port Arthur Memorial of 22-5A, who finished 7-1. Meanwhile, Humble finishes its season 1-7.
The Eagles clinched the outright 21-6A district championship with a 71-0 blanking of Goose Creek Memorial Friday. They open the playoffs versus Pasadena Memorial Friday night at Turner Stadium.
After falling to North Shore 34-7 Thursday night, the Bulldogs begin the playoffs Saturday against La Porte at Turner Stadium.