Fossil Ridge was late to class, one might say, for its game with the Timber Creek Falcons on Friday, spotting its Keller school district rival a 15-point lead.
Arnold Saidov, though, was a key performer in putting the Panthers in gear for a 28-25 victory in a District 3-6A opener for both at Keller ISD Athletics Complex.
The Panthers defensive end had five sacks, including a most crucial drop for loss in the fourth quarter. It turned what would have been a very makeable 40-yard field-goal attempt for Timber Creek into a 47-yard attempt that was a yard — if that — short.
“I’m not going to lie, we started out slow,” Saidov said. “Some problems on miscommunication kills us a lot. But the team we are, we’re going to bounce back. We never put our heads down. We adjust to the game plan, listen to the coaches, and get it right.”
With the victory, Fossil Ridge went to 5-0 and 1-0 in district. Hardly all is lost for Timber Creek, which moved to 4-1 and 0-1.
Offensively, the Panthers were led by quarterback Cobe Craft, who accounted for three touchdowns, including two during Fossil Ridge’s run of 21 straight points in the second quarter that got them back in the game.
Cobe was 10 for 24 for 170 yards and a touchdown passing, a 45-yard strike to Stefan Cobbs that gave the Panthers their first lead, in the second quarter.
Cobe also had 79 yards rushing and two TDs on 13 carries.
Timber Creek stormed out to a 15-0 lead on the strength of Blake Irving’s 56-yard run and Nick Nelson’s 7-yard TD reception, plus Hunter Meacham’s 2-point reception, both from Adrian Ranete, who was subbing for Dylan McCrary. McCrary left the game early with an apparent injury.
In addition to his touchdown, Irving had 155 yards rushing on 21 carries. Ranete was good in relief, going 12 for 18 for 147 yards and two TDs.
However, he couldn’t avoid the hard-charging Saidov, who successfully invaded the Falcons’ backfield time and again.
Timber Creek appeared poised to tie the game with eight minutes left, getting in field-goal position by driving to Fossil Ridge’s 24-yard line.
On third-and-11, though, Saidov made the game’s key play. Charging from the outside, he found his target, Ranete, and sacked him for a 6-yard loss.
“Timber Creek is a good football team,” Saidov said. “They run a lot of trick plays. I studied film, went play by play. I got my teammates next to me, and played as hard as I could and it went in my favor.