O'Connor stays unbeaten, outlasts Clemens in playoff showdown of SA area powers

Panthers beat Buffaloes 34-24, will face Reagan in second round

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SAN ANTONIO – The O’Connor Panthers waited all year for another shot at a District 27-6A opponent in the playoffs, and got some redemption on Friday as they beat Clemens 34-24 at Farris Stadium to move onto the next round of the Texas high school football playoffs. 

Last season, O’Connor suffered an early playoff exit at the hands of Judson, and have been on a mission ever since to make up for that loss and prove they can make a deep playoff run. 

While the opponent this time around was not Judson, a talented Clemens team that went 8-2 during the regular season proved to be just as formidable. 

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The Buffaloes even took an early lead 3-0 lead on the Panthers after their opening drive. O’Connor answered back with a field goal to tie the game at 3-3.  

O’Connor recovered an ensuing onside kick and on fourth down of that series, quarterback Roel Sanchez found Millard Bradford for a 31-yard touchdown pass that gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead. 

The Buffaloes had a golden opportunity to tie the game or put points on the board after a fumble recovery, but missed a field goal in the second quarter.

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Sanchez then drove the Panthers down the field and scored a short rushing touchdown to give O’Connor a 17-3 lead. 

Clemens got a much needed touchdown right before the end of the first half when quarterback Jordan Burleson hit wide receiver Tommy Bush on a fade route to cut the lead to 17-10 at intermission.

The game opened up in the second half as both teams traded scores and the intensity picked up.

On third down and 21, Sanchez hit Greyson Lee for a 23-yard touchdown pass on the Panthers opening drive of the second half to put O'Connor up 24-10. 

But the Buffs would not go away as Burleson found Peyton McDowall for a 2-yard touchdown pass on the next drive to keep Clemens in the game.

Sanchez once again showed his play-making ability and connected with Lee for the pair's second touchdown of the game, a 28-yard score to put the Panthers ahead 31-17.

Clemens stayed resilient and scored on its next drive, a touchdown pass from Burleson to Darius VanDyke, to get within one score, 31-24, in the fourth quarter.

The Buffaloes defense came up with two big stops, but the offense failed to convert on fourth downs on their next two series. The last being a fourth down deep in their own territory.

O'Connor added an insurance field goal late in the game to go up by 10 points. The defense held and the Panthers survived a physical, competitive game. 

Clemens ended its season at 8-3 while O'Connor moves on to face another San Antonio area powerhouse, Reagan, on Friday at Comalander Stadium. The Rattlers won a nail-biter of their own, 26-25, over Buda Hays.

If this game was any indication of what lies ahead in the playoffs, the Panthers will surely get a chance at more redemption and then some.


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