That first win continues to elude the Paradise Panthers.
For the second straight week, Panther mistakes cost them down the stretch as they fell to the Leonard Tigers 35-29 Thursday at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton.Down 29-22 early in the fourth quarter, Paradise was looking to tie the game. But a Tanner Valentine pass was intercepted by Leonard’s Tyler Turner and returned 96 yards for a touchdown. Paradise never recovered.
“Missed opportunities have been the cause for a couple of weeks,” Paradise coach Danny Neighbors said. “I can’t fault our effort tonight. I thought the kids played really hard. We are just making some mistakes that we shouldn’t be making. I think we’re getting better every week, but we have to get better in a hurry.”
When the Panthers weren’t shooting themselves in the foot, they were having a tough time slowing down the Tiger offense. Leonard’s Solomon Titus exploded for 175 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown.
“It wasn’t anything that we didn’t expect,” Neighbors said about the versatile Leonard attack. “They’re fast, and we aren’t as quick as them. We battled all night long. They just made more plays then we did.”
Paradise tied things up early in the third quarter when Jarrett Roper ran it in from 20-yards out, but the Panthers would never regain the lead.
Leonard scored on their next drive, with a Titus 40-yard touchdown scamper taking a 29-22 lead.
“At some point we have got to turn it around where we win some of these close ones,” Neighbors said.
Leonard scored on their second possession of the night, with Blake Hicks hitting Turner on a 26-yard pass to take a 7-0 lead.
Paradise answered back with Chris Lowery scoring on a 9-yard scamper. The Panthers converted a two-point conversion to lead 8-7.
Paradise kept the momentum going, recovering a Titus fumble at their own 20-yard line.
One play later Valentine’s short pass to Jarrett Roper turned into an 80-yard touchdown, giving the Panthers a 14-7 lead after the missed PAT.
Leonard came back in three plays, when Hicks found Laine Albert for an 8-yard touchdown strike, tying the game 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Albert would strike again in the second quarter, when Justin Bennett found him for a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Tigers a 22-14 halftime lead.
LEONARD … 14 … 8 … 7 … 6 ….. 35
PARADISE … 14 … 0 … 8 … 7 … 29
Leonard – Tyler Turner 26 pass from Blake Hicks; Gio Soto kick
Paradise – Chris Lowery 9 run; Mcdowell run
Paradise – Jarrett Roper 80 pass from Tanner Valentine; kick failed
Leonard – Laine Albert 18 pass from Hicks; Soto kick
Leonard – Albert 15 pass from Justin Bennett; pass good
Paradise – Roper 20 run; Valentine pass to Lowery
Leonard – Solomon Titus 40 run; Soto kick
Leonard – Tyler Turner 96 INT return; kick failed
Paradise – Jarrett Holt 13 pass from Valentine; Roper kick
PARADISE … LEONARD
First Downs … 23 … 32
Rushes-yards … 153 … 375
Passing-yards … 161 … 136
Total yards … 314 … 511
Comp-Att-Int … 11-18-2 … 8-14-2
Punts … 5-36 … 1-22
Rushing – Leonard, Titus 18-175; Paradise, Roper 12-78
Receiving – Leonard, Titus 2-50; Paradise, Roper 3-101
Passing – Leonard, Hicks 7-10-1-121; Paradise, Valentine 11-18-2-161