RUSK — The Spring Hill Panthers rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit, scoring 16 after the break and pitching a shutout the rest of the way en route to a 19-16 win over the Rusk Eagles.
The Panthers, winners of two in a row after an 0-2 start, will visit Malakoff next week to close out the non-district portion of the schedule.
Rusk drops to 0-4 on the year, with the four losses coming by a total of 15 points.
Spring Hill took a 3-0 lead with 7:44 to play in the opening quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Efren Barcenas, but Rusk scored the next 16 points.
Jaylon Hill had a hand in both Rusk touchdowns, scoring on a 3-yard run with 4:47 left in the opening quarter and adding the two-point conversion run for an 8-3 Rusk lead and then tossing a 17-yard touchdown pass to JoJo McGowen.
The Panthers got back in the game in the third quarter when Daryn Beck scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 4-play, 46-yard drive that was set up by a Tyrese Jones punt return of 46 yards. Jones also had a 41-yard reception on the drive.
That score came with 6:11 to play, and then at the 6:06 mark of the fourth quarter Barcenas pulled the Panthers to within four points with a 37-yard field goal to make it a 16-14 contest.
Three minutes later, Kaden Peppers, who earlier blocked a punt, had a strip sack and fumble recovery to set up what proved to be the game-winning score.
Brady Powers scored on a 2-yard run with 3:24 to play after Peppers’ sack, capping a short 4-play, 31-yard march.
Rusk turned the ball over on downs with 2:05 to play, but Spring Hill couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt.
After a botched kick and made scramble for the ball that saw a Rusk player touch the pigskin, Spring Hill recovered and ran out the remaining time.
The Panthers’ Gage White finished the night (unofficially) with 11 completions in 17 attempts for 142 yards. Powers rushed for 35 yards on 14 carries, and Beck finished with 64 yards on 20 attempts.