LONE GROVE — Leading 36-34 after three quarters Lone Grove led things slip away in the game’s final 12 minutes as Pauls Valley roared back to take a 48-36 victory over the Longhorns Friday night at Longhorn Field.

LONE GROVE — Leading 36-34 after three quarters Lone Grove led things slip away in the game’s final 12 minutes as Pauls Valley roared back to take a 48-36 victory over the Longhorns Friday night at Longhorn Field. 

The Panthers improved to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in District 3A-4 but more importantly captured the final playoff spot in the district and will head to next week’s playoffs. Lone Grove finished the year 3-7 overall and 2-4 in district play.

Things were looking good as the third quarter ended. The Longhorns had scored on a 1-yard run by Shelden Brown and then converted a 2-point PAT run by Brown to take a 36-34 lead with 4:16 left in the period. 

Three minutes later the Lone Grove defense had stopped the Pauls Valley offense for the first time in the game and had forced the first Panther punt. 

Following a stalled Longhorn drive, the Lone Grove punt had Pauls Valley pinned at their own 5-yard line 10 seconds into the fourth.

At that point the Panthers flip-flopped game momentum and finished on all cylinders. 

A 5-yard pass completion from quarterback Jack Grimmett to Jared Perry moved the ball to the 10-yard line. 

Grimmett then ran it to the 30-yard line. And on the third play of the drive Tyler Thompson broke through the Longhorn defense and raced 70 yards to give Pauls Valley a 40-36 lead.

The ensuing kick-off was mis-played by Lone Grove’s deep men, and the Longhorns were pinned at their own 5-yard line. 

Three plays later Lone Grove quarterback was sacked in the end zone for a safety and a 42-36 Panther lead. 

The Longhorn kick following the safety was returned all the way to the Lone Grove 37-yard line. 

Pauls Valley, now with momentum heavily on their side, used seven plays to move the 37 yards for a touchdown with Grimmett scoring on a 1-yard keeper play for a 48-36 lead. 

Perhaps even more important, the Panthers had left the Longhorns but five minutes to make something happen.

“That punt issue and the safety changed the game momentum a lot,” Lone Grove coach Trey Owens said. 

“We knew it would be a tough game, and everyone played wire to wire. We are not a team that’s built to make big comeback attempts in short periods of time, however.” 

“We like the ball-control, running game that takes charge and moving the sticks,” Owens added. “Being down two scores that late in the game made it a difficult task for us. Pauls Valley made some big plays down the stretch that changed the game’s complexion, and we could not answer.

The offenses dominated in the game. Pauls Valley finished with 506 offensive yards, and Lone Grove had 424 yards. The Longhorns needed to punt just twice, and the Panthers punted but once.

The Longhorns drove steadily for their first score by taking the opening kickoff and moving 74 yards on six plays for a touchdown. 

Stephen Meek scored on a 35-yard dash around left end to give Lone Grove a 6-0 lead.

The Panthers answered quickly. 

They needed just 1:38 playing time to move 69 yards with the score coming on a 63-yard gallop by Thompson to put Pauls Valley up 7-6. Thompson finished with 21 carries for 222 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers had 354 rushing yards on 38 carries against the Longhorn defense.

Lone Grove’s first punt gave Pauls Valley the edge late in the opening quarter. 

The Panthers used eight plays to drive 71 yards to add to their lead. With 2:39 left in the opening quarter Grimmett hit Jared Perry with a 23-yard touchdown strike that increased the Panther advantage to 14-6 at the end of the first. 

Grimmett was 10-16-0 for 152 yards with two touchdown passes. He also had 15 carries for 119 yards and one touchdown for Pauls Valley.

With 10:24 left in the half, the Longhorns finished a drive they started late in the first quarter. 

On the ninth play of the 79-yard drive Jason Walker scored on a 15-yard run around left end. Lone Grove’s second missed PAT left them behind 14-12.

Still moving on offense Pauls Valley went on a 16-play, 66-yard drive that culminated with Kyrie Harding scoring on a 7-yard run that gave the Panthers a 20-12 lead with four minutes left in the half.

Lone Grove, still motoring on offense as well, finished the half off with a 10-play, 72-yard march. Walker scored his second touchdown in a row as his circled left end and took it nine yards for the score. 

Brown ran in the 2-point PAT, and the game was tied at intermission 20-20.

“Both teams played hard, but it was the offenses that dominated tonight,” Owens said. 

“We had the momentum in our favor several times in the game, but we could never close the deal. We needed some key stops that we could not get, and that hurt us and allowed them to continue their offensive drives.”

“We never gave up as a team,” Owens added. 

“Even when things weren’t going our way, the players re-grouped and came back with answers to what Pauls Valley was doing.”

Scoring came quickly in the third for both teams.

The Panthers took the lead with 7:42 left in the quarter on a 14-yard run by Thompson over left tackle.

LGHS responded with a score of its own moments later with William Houldson rushing in for a 38-yard touchdown around right end. 

The Longhorns elected to go for two and were successful on a run by Brown that give Lone Grove a brief 28-27 edge. Brown had 159 yard on 21 carries and one touchdown for the Longhorns.

On the first play of the next Panther possession, Grimmett hit Perry with a swing pass to the right that Perry took right down the sideline untouched for a 34-28 Pauls Valley advantage.

The final Longhorn score of the game, and the year, came with 4:16 remaining in the third. A 6-play, 76-yard drive ended on Brown’s 1-yard run and Houldson’s PAT run that gave Lone Grove a 36-34 lead after the third quarter. 

But the rest of the game belonged to the Panthers as they put up 14 unanswered points over the final 12 minutes to claim the win.

“We had a lot of adversity hit us in the fourth with the safety and some untimely penalties,” Owens said. 

“They (Pauls Valley) were able to take advantage of the momentum switch and field position issues. They capitalized on our mistakes, and we could not overcome those mistakes in the fourth.”

“I am proud of the effort this team has given all year, and tonight as well,” Owens added. 

“It’s just disappointing for the team, and especially for our seniors, that we could not make it to the playoffs. They’ve sacrificed and contributed so much to the team all year.”

Lone Grove drove to the Pauls Valley 20-yard line with 2:30 remaining. But a pass by Stafford was picked off by Grimmett at the goal line. From there the Panthers were able to run out the clock.

Brown finished the year with 1149 rushing yards for the Longhorns. Stafford had 800 passing yards, and Kemyon Sophus had 524 receiving yards for Lone Grove.