Panthers overcome slow start, down Arbor View

Since the 2006 season, No. 4 Palo Verde has played only seven games following a loss.

The Panthers have yet to post a losing streak, averaging more than 36 points in those follow-up games.

After a few hangups in the first half Friday night, Palo Verde got things rolling, and Arbor View could do nothing to stop it.

The Panthers broke open a seven-point halftime lead with 41 second-half points on their way to a 55-21 victory.

“I think we still had something left over from the Legacy game in the first half,” said Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost, whose team ran for a mere 43 yards in the opening half. “But we made some changes and our offense really took over the game.”

Rost decided to use Tyrone Blake in Palo Verde’s version of the Wildcat formation after his team failed to score an offensive touchdown against Legacy. The move worked, as Blake scored three times and the Panthers rushed for 302 yards in the second half.

“Tyrone is such a leader,” Rost said. “The philosophy here is to get better each week. That’s the only way to get over a loss is go out and get better. We didn’t play badly last week at Legacy; we just didn’t make the plays when needed. Tonight, we did.”

Palo Verde (7-1, 5-1 Northwest) exploded with three touchdowns in a four-minute span in the second half to take control. Chappell Thomas scored twice with runs of 26 and 46 yards while defensive lineman Doug Stultz returned an interception 21 yards for another score.

The Panthers scored on their first possession of the second half, going 42 yards in five plays that ended with Blake’s nine-yard TD run.

The Aggies (4-4, 3-4 Northwest) answered with their best drive of the night, 80 yards on 14 plays with Christian Rodriguez traveling the final 25. But 16 seconds later, Brandon Wright took the ensuing kickoff and raced 91 yards into the end zone to give the Panthers the edge.

Thomas and Wright, who combined for only 29 rushing yards in the first half, ripped through Arbor View’s defense for 221 in the second.

Thomas finished with 152 on 18 carries while Wright added 99 on 14 rushes. Rodriguez led Arbor View with 85 yards on 14 carries.