ABILENE — The Keller Fossil Ridge Panthers (9-3) battled the elements and an icy field at Shotwell Stadium on Saturday to advance to the third round of the playoffs for just the second time in school history with a 39-7 win over the San Angelo Central Bobcats.
Fossil Ridge will take on Denton Ryan in the Class 5A Division II Region I semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Apogee Stadium in Denton.
Wide receiver Ryan Parker had a pair of second-half touchdown receptions and finished the game with seven catches for 92 yards to pace the Panthers.
Leading just 12-7 at halftime, the Panthers opened the third quarter by marching to the Central 4, but quarterback Jacob Gnacinski fumbled while trying to fight for extra yardage and Central pounced on the loose ball.
Central moved the ball out to the 20, but on third-and-10, Charles Walker intercepted a pass by quarterback Mickey Scott and went 25 yards untouched to give Fossil Ridge an 18-7 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out and a short punt against a stiff wind, Parker caught his first touchdown pass of the game on a quick slant route from 35 yards, giving Fossil Ridge an insurmountable 25-7 lead.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with the wind playing a big role in both coaches’ strategy.
Fossil Ridge had the wind at its back in the first quarter and the Panthers took a 6-0 lead on their third possession of the game on a 21-yard run by Keshawn Mitchell.
That drive was just 42 yards and was set up by a short punt against the wind and a personal foul penalty on Central.
Central would take its only lead of the game early in the second quarter as it had the wind to its back and scored on a short run by Scott to take a 7-6 lead.
The Panthers would get a huge score going into the wind on the ensuing possession as Gnacinski scored on a 4-yard run, putting them up for good.
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