The momentum swung as continuously as a pendulum in Friday nights heart attack at the Dub Farris Athletic Complex. But at the end, it stopped for the O’Connor Panthers.

The Panthers (11-0) won the first round matchup against Clemens 34-24. Clemens, who finished the season 1-3 in its last four, was once down 14 but never gave up and made spectacular plays.

The first of those was after Buffaloes’ defensive back Darius Vandyke returned a punt into Panther territory with just over a minute before half. Down 17-3, the Buffaloes were looking for just about anything to get momentum onto their side. They found that, when quarterback Jordan Burelson hit a fade route to senior receiver Tommy Bush. The officials signaled touchdown, but video shown in the Tweet below proves otherwise.

Regardless, there are no replays in high school football. Panther coach David Malesky said as much after the game, even if he wishes it could have been changed.

“There’s going to be calls that are going to go both ways,” Malesky said. “We would like to have replay, it’s never going to happen in high school so I’m not even going to worry about it. It’s apart of the game and unfortunately, that one didn’t go our way.”

Going into halftime with the lead 17-10, the Panthers were keeping their heads high. Coming out of half, the game began to get insane. After a six-minute drive, Roel Sanchez extended the O’Connor lead 24-10. The pass to Greyson Lee was not as controversial as Bush’s before half, but just as beautiful.

The excitement didn’t last long for O’Connor fans, as it attempted an onside kick after the touchdown. The failed attempt gave Clemens a short field, as the Buffaloes drove down field and scored quickly to bring it back within a touchdown, 24-17.

Shortly after, Lee was found once more in the end zone as Sanchez found him wide open. With a 31-17 lead, it still wasn’t safe. Both sidelines were jumping, fans were screaming and players hearts were racing.

“It’s carzy, it’s crazy. But that’s why we do what we do, to be in moments like this,” Malesky said after the win. “Tonight, we are fortunate to come out with the win and so it’s going to take a while before we can sit back and enjoy this. But we’re going to relish it tonight.”

O’Connor has not lost since November 11, last year against Judson. The undefeated season is great and coach Malesky admits that much. But he says once playoffs began, it was time to shift to being undefeated when it matters. That starts with a first round win.

“If you don’t start this way, we’re getting on that bus with sad faces,” Malesky said. “It’s what you got to do, you’re playing for the right to play one more game.”

Malesky and his Panthers will get another shot at it next week as it plays Reagan (9-2). The Reagan Rattlers won a game in which it didn’t have a lead until the last five minutes.

Gerald Tracy is an assistant editor of Texas football for TexasHSFootball, covering prep football in the San Antonio region. Follow Gerald on Twitter, @GTracySports, and read more of his content here.

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