Down seven points early, Colleyville Heritage grabbed a lead and the momentum, and then stepped on the pedal.
The Panthers made their case for a District 8-5A championship in reclaiming the Battle of the Red Rail in a 51-28 victory over arch-rival Grapevine on Friday night at Mustang-Panther Stadium.
Caleb Murphy rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, one of 66 yards in the second half that he set up with an interception, one of five picks the Mustangs defense collected.
Quarterback Jagger Laroe was 15 for 19 for 297 yards and two touchdowns to star wide receivers Kam Brown and Ke’Von Ahmad, and an 87-yarder right before halftime that stunned Grapevine.
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The District 8-5A championship is far from settled.
Heritage (7-1 overall) is alone at the top with a 5-0 district record. Grapevine (6-2 overall) and Richland are 4-1. The Mustangs defeated Richland last week.
The Panthers and Richland play in two weeks in the regular-season finale.
“We used last year [a loss to Grapevine] as a little motivation. We just fed off everything. We came into the game focused on doing our jobs.”
Heritage’s defensive front kept Mustangs quarterback Alan Bowman uncomfortable in the pocket all night.
In addition to Murphy, Trey Flint and Nick Clark each had interceptions, and Ahmad had two to go with his six catches for 147 yards. The Panthers turned two of those picks into 14 points.
Bowman was limited to 194 yards on 21-of-37 passing with three touchdowns. Grapevine running back RoShawn Prear had 121 yards on 15 rushes, including a 55-yard scoring run on the game’s first possession.
David Clayton had seven receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns, including a 14-yarder in the corner of the end zone that cut the Mustangs’ deficit to seven.
But Heritage scored the next 13 points with Quiante Garner’s 7-yard run and Drew Sanders scoring the first of his two 1-yard runs in the second half.
The Panthers finished with a decided edge in total yards, 519 to 346.
Heritage answered its early 7-0 deficit by outscoring the Mustangs 28-7 the rest of the first half.
Murphy scored the first of his two TDs on a 6-yard run with 2:18 left in the first quarter. The Panthers earned a lead just after the start of the second quarter when Laroe found Brown from 15 yards.
After Grapevine tied the game with Clayton’s 14-yard grab in the corner of the end zone, Murphy darted 66 yards to put the Panthers back up a score. Murphy set up the TD with his interception of Bowman at the 3:29 mark.
Heritage received a punt at its own 6 with 32 seconds left, but the Panthers weren’t content to settle.
Brown took a pass from Laroe for 7 yards to the 13.
After a timeout to stop the clock, Laroe dropped back and heaved a pass down the middle and to Grapevine’s side of the field. His target, Ahmad, leaped high and came down with the ball, evading a tackle attempt and then outrunning pursuing Mustangs for an 87-yard TD that put the Panthers up two scores, 28-14, at the half.
“That was huge. We were pumped,” said Brown, who had eight catches for 145 yards. “We try not to be too confident. The scoreboard goes back to 0-0” at halftime.
“Don’t get a happy feeling. You’ve got to act like you’re down and keep playing.”