Fumbles were costly to North Crowley in a 57-45 loss to Arlington Sam Houston on Friday night at Panther Stadium.
The outcome marred a standout performance by Panthers quarterback Caleb Leake, who completed 20 of 24 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. All of his touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter as he tried to rally his team from a 29-point deficit early in the third quarter.
Earlier though, the Panthers (1-6, 0-4 District 4-6A) fumbled the ball away three times in the second quarter, two of which led directly to touchdowns, and the third killed a long drive.
Sam Houston (2-5, 2-2) outscored North Crowley 28-0 in the quarter and led 35-13 at halftime.
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Leading 14-13, the first fumble on the slippery, wet field by Leake retreating under pressure in his backfield was scooped up by Ethan Harris and returned 40 yards for a touchdown. About a minute of playing time or four plays later, Leake again lost the ball as he being tackled in the backfield. It was picked up by Jacoby Hildreath and returned 25 yards for another touchdown and a 28-13 Texans lead.
Finally, North Crowley was driving from its 24 to its 18 in eight plays with less than minute left in the first half before another fumble near the line of scrimmage halted the drive.
Sam Houston has won five of the last six meetings between the schools including four of the last five at Panther Stadium.
Game was over when: Patrick Boulieu rushed 45 yards up the middle for his third touchdown with 3:24 left to make it 57-37 Sam Houston. Boulieu finished with 116 yards on 11 carries. Teammate Exzavier Thomas also ran for a pair of touchdowns.
Defensive player of the game: Not only did Hildreth return a fumble for a touchdown, but he also batted down a pass on fourth-and-5 at his 19-yard-line and his team guarding a 42-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Unsung hero of the game: Jose Ramos was good on all of his seven PATs. Also, teammate Bryce Oliver returned a punt 38 yards to the North Crowley 35 in the second half that led to a touchdown and a 42-13 Sam Houston lead.
What’s next? Arlington Sam Houston hosts Arlington Lamar on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. North Crowley plays Arlington at Maverick Stadium the same day and time.