SPRING — Wearing their road jerseys at home for their white-out game, the Klein Oak Panthers locked up second place in the district with a 21-13 win over the Houston Stratford Spartans.
The first score of the game didn’t come till midway through the second quarter as it was a pure defensive slugfest early. The first six possessions all ended in punts as Klein Oak got three sacks early, while Stratford held the Panthers to zero plays over 25 yards in the first half.
Klein Oak broke through first thanks to special teams. After a 71-yard punt by Trenton Hamilton that pinned Stratford deep in its own territory, the Panthers were able to get the ball back and march it down the field and score thanks to a Tyler Hudson touchdown. The Panthers successfully went for two to make it 8-0 going into the break.
“Trenton is a great kid,” said Klein Oak Jason Glenn about his punter Hamilton, “he put a lot of work in, every day after practice him and his dad would work on punting. Every single day after practice, and with that 71 yarder, you can tell, you can’t hit a 71 yarder without that. It was a field position game all day.”
Houston Stratford would start out on a flurry of their own, thanks to a 77-yard kickoff return to the Klein Oak 15-yard line. But as they had done most of the night, the Panther defense stood tall as they kept the Spartans off the scoreboard. The back and forth defensive struggle continued until finally, with three minutes left in the third, Stratford scored on a 70-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Murdock to Grayson Pendergraft, who would finished with six catches for 161 yards and that one touchdown.
Just minutes later, the C.J. Ward-Tyler Hudson connection worked once again, as Klein Oak extended their lead with a seven-yard touchdown pass.The senior receiver finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Stratford bounced right back as Murdock drove the Spartans down and put them within two. The speedy Bennie Smith continually gave the Panthers great field positions off kickoff returns twice running balls back to midfield.
With a minute left to come back, Stratford fumbled the ball in the end zone, Klein Oak recovered to seal the victory 21-13. It was a big night for the Panther defense as they finished with a defensive touchdown, tallied five sacks on the night and held Stratford to just 48 yards on the ground.
Glenn was pleased with the win, but knows that his Klein Oak has to clean things up as they close the regular season and head into the playoffs.
“We still have another game next week and we aren’t going to look past Klein Forest,” Glenn said, “We have to play them hard and tough and keep working on our discipline. We had too many penalties and that’s on us and were going to work on that and do that this week”
Stratford has now lost two in a row and despite clinching a playoff streak now head into their last game of the season and into the playoffs on a sour note.
On the flip side, now 5-1 in the district, Klein Oak has locked up the second seed and clinched a spot in the playoffs. They’ve now won four in a row and look to make it five next week against the 2-5 Klein Forest Golden Eagles.
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