Wildcats focus on playoffs with another district win

Sports Writer: Brent Cook

November 3, 2021

With a last-minute touchdown run from senior quarterback Garrett Peacock, the Whitney Wildcats (4-5, 3-2) shocked the Maypearl Panthers Friday night with a thrilling 37-34 victory.

“We for sure kept everyone in their seats until the final horn,” said Whitney Head Coach Mark Byrd.

The Panthers mounted a frantic comeback, which had everyone’s hearts pounding. Despite trailing the entire game, the Panthers scored twice in the final frame and recovered an onside kick, stealing the lead from Whitney with just three minutes to play.

Down 34-30, the Wildcats were then given a short field as Maypearl missed a second onside attempt. Following a sliding, third-down catch from senior Jaxon Montgomery, Peacock barreled towards the end zone, but the Panthers popped the ball out and recovered the fumble with 1:41 on the clock.

The Maypearl celebration began, but the grit and determination of the scrappy Wildcats prevailed.
With a defiant defensive stand, Byrd efficiently utilized three timeouts he had hidden in his pocket to give Whitney one last shot.

The Panthers were forced to punt from their own end zone, which resulted in another Wildcat start in Maypearl’s territory. Peacock quickly picked apart the Panthers, spotting Jairdyn Anderson and then Kyler Cryns. The quarterback then had a redemption rush, this time securing the ball as he powered to the game winning-score with :48 seconds left.

“No doubt the onside kick took the air out of us and made us dig in,” Byrd said. “Our defense held for us to get the ball back and give Peacock a chance. I wouldn’t have wanted it an anyone else’s hands.”

The win ensured a playoff trip for the Wildcats as the #3 seed in District 7 3-A, Division 1 and slotted Maypearl in the fourth position. West staked claim to the district title Friday night by narrowly defeating Grandview in a 28-20 battle.

Following losses to both West and Grandview, the Wildcats came out on fire against Maypearl. Whitney’s Anderson fielded the opening kickoff and sprinted to a 65-yard score. The defense then made its presence known, putting the ball back in the offenses’ hand.

The trusty leg of Carson Griffin then padded the score with a 36-yard field goal to give Whtiney a 10-0 first quarter lead.

The Wildcat defense then forced another three-and-out, and the offense keep the chains moving. On the night, six Wildcats rushers and five receivers got into the mix, while the defense mustered six tackles for a loss, three pass deflections, an interception and a fumble recovery.

“We really had a good balanced attack and we were able to run the ball a bit better,” Byrd said. “Being able to get back to spreading the ball opened up Anderson as a threat for us.”

Maypearl was able to find the endzone to start the second quarter, but Whitney struck again when Peacock connected on a long pass with Orrin Green to set up a rushing score from Dalton Wooten.

Whitney took a 17-6 lead into the locker room, but Maypearl closed the gap with the first score of the second half. Not to be outdone, Peacock went back to work and orchestrated a 59-yard drive that was capped off when he secured his first score of the night. It was Peacock’s 22 touchdown on the year.

“Peacock has ice in his veins and is the ultimate competitor when it comes down to taking care of business,” Byrd said. “No doubt, he carries us on his back.”

The touchdown tradeoff continued into the fourth quarter with Anderson making a dazzling reception play that was followed up with his second touchdown of the night. The Wildcats were up 30-20 with 11 minutes to play, which is when the Panthers tried to mix in some magic with two consecutive scores.

But it a win was not in the cards for Maypearl as Whitney refused to hand over the victory.

The Wildcats return to play this Friday with the final game of the regular season at Wildcat Stadium. Whitney will face Life Oak Cliff, who brings a 1-4 district record into the contest. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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