While the football season is a few weeks old for some high school teams, Palo Verde had its season opener Thursday night at Legacy and the rust showed.
For the first four minutes.
But after falling behind 10-0, the second-ranked Panthers used a balanced first-half assault on offense with 192 yards passing and 135 yards rushing to score 28 straight points en route to a 47-32 victory over No. 5 Legacy.
“There’s a lot to be said, them having a game last week and (us) having a couple of scrimmages,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “But a scrimmage is not a game, and they had a game underneath their belt, and it showed that first quarter. I thought our kids did a great job of settling down and playing.”
It was Legacy that got off to a quick start when Palo Verde’s Hykeem Massey was hit hard and dropped the opening kickoff at the Panthers’ 8-yard line. Legacy place-kicker Julian Castro booted a 26-yard field goal to put the Longhorns ahead 3-0. They then held Palo Verde on five plays, and though the Panthers pinned Legacy on its 1-yard line off a 64-yard punt, senior Casey Hughes took the second play from scrimmage 95 yards for a touchdown.
Palo Verde quarterback Parker Rost took control and completed 11 of 15 passes for 308 yards passing and four touchdowns. Tight end Jake Ortale caught six passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. The two were nearly unstoppable, as five of Ortale’s receptions were for 21 yards or longer.
“I’ve known him since I’ve been born. We’ve gone to school together, played together since youth ball,” Parker Rost said. “I can trust him enough to always catch the ball.”
Palo Verde running back Jaren Campbell led the rushing game with 118 yards on 18 carries, as the Panthers finished with 602 yards on offense — 308 passing and 294 rushing.
And while the Panthers won the game, Hughes was the game’s biggest offensive star, as the 190-pound back rolled to 237 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Longhorns. The senior standout kept the Longhorns within striking distance twice in the second half with 1-yard and 58-yard scores. The second cut Palo Verde’s lead to 34-24 with 5:42 left in the third quarter.
Palo Verde extended its lead to 40-24 early in the fourth quarter when Massey scored from seven yards. Longhorns quarterback Devin Williams then hit Nieamiah Lane for a 5-yard touchdown reception at the 6:13 mark. A two-point conversion cut Palo’s lead to 40-32.
The Panthers then put the game out of reach when Rost and Ortale hooked up for their final touchdown.