JUSTIN — If it were a baseball game, Keller Fossil Ridge quarterback Jacob Gnacinski would have been the starting and closing pitcher for the Panthers in their 28-10 District 4-5A win Friday over Justin Northwest at Northwest ISD Stadium.
Gnacinski and Fossil Ridge came out firing in the first half, throwing for 162 yards and three touchdowns, leading to a 28-3 halftime lead.
In the second half, the 4.6, 40-yard dash running quarterback pounded his way through the middle of the field, acting as the game’s closer.
The majority of his 57 rushing yards came in the second half.
Gnacinksi’s main target was wide receiver Niron Fields, who tallied 59 yards on five receptions and two touchdowns.
He highlighted a drive in the second quarter that saw him pull in a 35-yard pass over a Northwest defensive back, then capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown grab on the next play.
“We were just expecting that they were going to double cover Ryan Parker, so I expected Niron would be open,” Gnacinski said.
However, that didn’t keep Parker from leading the team in receiving yards with 80 on four catches.
The majority of his yards came on a 65-yard connection from Gnacinski in the first quarter that ended with Parker scampering into the end zone for Fossil Ridge’s second score of the game.
Ridge (4-1, 2-0 in District 4-5A) capped its scoring in the second quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Keshawn Mitchell that followed a kickoff fumble recovery.
Mitchell finished as the game’s leading rusher with 120 yards.
The fumble was forced by a big hit on Northwest wide receiver Emmanuel Moore, who had to be carted off the field after spending close to 20 minutes down on the field.
There was some slight leg movement while Moore was on the ground, but his condition after the game was unknown.
Northwest (4-1, 1-1 in District 4-5A) managed to get on the board late in the second quarter on a 23-yard field goal by Chris Hamilton, but would not be able to find the scoreboard again until late in the third when Chase Morrison dove into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.
Special to S-T
Fossil Ridge quarterback Jacob Gnacinski threw for 162 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
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