A string of seven consecutive wins by Keller Fossil Ridge against Keller ISD schools was in jeopardy, but Keller Timber Creek made just enough errors to allow the Panthers to escape with a 49-44 victory against the Falcons in the District 3-6A opener at Keller ISD Stadium on Friday.
Timber Creek (3-2, 0-1 in 3-6A) took a 38-35 lead on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cade Schrader to Jerome Jackson with 8:16 left in the game, but Fossil Ridge (4-1, 1-0) stormed back.
A nine-play, 65-yard drive by the Panthers was capped by a 3-yard Max Akin scoring run to put Fossil Ridge back up 42-38.
Fossil Ridge’s Johnathan Garza recovered a fumble on Timber Creek’s next series. Three plays later running back Anthony Smith scored his fourth touchdown of the night on an 11-yard run for a 49-38 lead with 3:02 left.
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Akin, the Panthers quarterback, and Smith did most of the damage for the Fossil Ridge offense. Smith carried 30 times for 184 yards and Akin had 138 yards rushing on 26 carries, adding a 4-yard TD run in the first quarter. Akin had 157 yards through the air, including a 41-yard touchdown to Smith on a swing pass.
Hunter Gibson scored on a 1-yard run with 1:47 left for Timber Creek to cut the lead to 49-44, but the Falcons failed to recover the onside kick and never threatened on their last series after forcinig a Fossil Ridge punt.
Panthers defensive lineman Tyler Mitchell scored on Timber Creek’s only other turnover, returning a fumble 56 yards for a score for Fossil Ridge as time ran out in the first half, giving the Panthers a 28-24 lead.
The game was billed as a contest between the Panthers stout defense and Timber Creek’s explosive offense. Fossil Ridge did hold the Falcons to 21 first-half rushing yards, and 123 for the game, but the Panthers didn’t have an answer for the Timber Creek combination of quarterback Cade Schrader and receiver Erik Ezukanma.
Schrader and Ezukanma connected for scoring passes of 39 and 71 yards in the first quarter. Ezukanma added a 61-yard scoring run and finished with 10 catches for 189 yards and had 83 rushing yards on 4 carries.
Schrader finished with 399 yards passing completing 24 of 34 throws.