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Mart's still mighty: No. 1 Panthers hold off McGregor, 43-33

Mart's still mighty: No. 1 Panthers hold off McGregor, 43-33

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Mart’s Roddrell Freeman causes McGregor’s quarterback Veandre McDaniel to fumble the ball.

In the second of a four-game stretch against Class 3A opponents, the Mart Panthers went on the road and defeated McGregor, 43-33, Friday night. With the win, the three-time defending Class 2A Division II state champion moved to 2-0 on the year.

Mart went on a milk-the-clock, late-in-the-game 65-yard drive to make the score 43-19 with 5:40 left, but then things suddenly got interesting. McGregor quarterback VeAndre McDaniel connected with Dayton Threadgill for a 39-yard touchdown pass, and then the Bulldogs recovered the ensuing onside kick. About a minute later, McDaniel threw another scoring pass, this time to Ashton Vining.

After the dust settled, it was 43-33, and McGregor was lining up for another onside kick. This time, though, Mart wide receiver DaMarion Medlock smothered the ball, and the Panthers ran out the clock to secure the hard-fought victory. It was the type of win that could pay dividends later in the year and in the playoffs for the battle-tested Panthers.

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McGregor's quarterback Veandre McDaniel scores a touchdown past Mart's DaMarion Medlock.

Late in the game was not the only time Mart displayed a take-your-best-shot, championship mentality. McGregor also found some fight in the third quarter. After Mart running back Klyderion Campbell scored on the Panthers’ opening possession of the second half, it appeared the visitors might run away from the home team, as Mart led 36-7. However, McDaniel threw a strike over the middle to Caleb Carmichael on McGregor’s first possession of the second half, and it was 36-13.

A few minutes later, the Panthers were forced to punt out of their own end zone. Bulldog linebacker Chad Lorenz blocked the punt, and Vining caught the deflected ball in the air and raced to the end zone.

The Bulldogs’ momentum continued on the Panthers’ next possession, as Bulldog defensive lineman Reese Huffman recovered a fumble. McGregor could not cash in, though, and after that the Panthers went on what turned out to be the game-clinching drive.

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McGregor's Deondre Parker tries to hold on to the ball while covered by Mart's Tristan Holt.

The game started about 30 minutes late due to a weather delay, and the first half was played in a steady rain. The floodgates opened in other ways, too, as Mart took advantage of four McGregor fumbles before intermission to build a 29-7 halftime lead.

First, following a Bulldog fumble on their opening series, Mart quarterback Roddrell Freeman found a wide open DaMarion Medlock racing down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown. The Panthers recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Keishawn Clater found paydirt from 27 yards out for Mart’s second score.

Following another Clater scamper, this time from 60 yards out, McGregor took advantage of a blocked punt by Marcus Tippie deep in Panther territory to get on the scoreboard. McDaniel scored on an 11-yard keeper to make it 22-7.

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Keishawn Clater's kickoff return for a touchdown past McGregor's Kaiser Medina staked Mart to a three-touchdown lead at halftime.

The flash of momentum was short-lived, though, as Mart returned the kickoff for a touchdown to stake the Panthers to a three-touchdown lead at halftime.

For Mart, Clater took over for Freeman at quarterback in the second half. Freeman stayed in the game on defense at defensive end.

Photos: High school football Week 2 around Waco, Central Texas

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