Magnolia scored the first touchdown and stopped Little Rock Christian’s first two drives, but the Panthers could not effectively answer the three successive Warriors scores on the way to their third straight loss, 42-27.
Magnolia showed some early promise of pulling off an upset similar to the Panthers’ 52-49 victory against the Warriors in Little Rock last year.
Little Rock Christian drove the opening kickoff to the Magnolia 41 before turning the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass.
Magnolia went 59 yards in eight plays, mainly due to the work of fullback Deraylen Williams. His 16-yard run to the Little Rock Christian 4 set up a touchdown run by quarterback Dalen Blanchard, who ground his way through the Warriors defense. J. Todd Baker kicked the extra point from Blanchard’s hold for a 7-0 Magnolia lead with 5:18 to play in the first quarter.
B.J. Curry made a good return after Little Rock’s next punt, but a penalty brough Magnolia back to its 38. Magnolia had to punt.
Little Rock scored on its next play with an 80-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Walker White to Eli Cooper. Wyatt Thomas kicked the first of his six extra points to tie the game with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
The teams traded punts through the next four series until Little Rock got possession at midfield. Jayean Dyer-Jones scored on a 23-yard run with 3:32 left in the half.
Josiah Johnson recovered a Magnolia fumble at the Panthers 39. Tate Collins scored on a 6-yard pass from White with 57 seconds left in the half.
Little Rock recovered another fumble and Cooper received a 38-yard touchdown pass from White with 48 seconds left.
The Warriors led 28-7 at the half.
Magnolia punter J. Todd Baker had to boot the Panthers next possession from his end zone, which was downed by Little Rock at its own 41. However, the Warriors ground out a time-eating seven play drive to the Panthers 10, where White ran to his right and scored with 7:15 left in the third quarter.
Magnolia drove 65 yards to the Little Rock 15. The big play on the drive was a 35-yard run by Curry to the Little Rock 35. The drive stumbled when Ben Ridings recovered a Panthers fumble at the Little Rock 15.
Magnolia got its own big defensive play when Colby Garland soon stepped up with Magnolia’s biggest offensive play of the night when he intercepted a pass at the Panthers 46 and returned the football to the Warriors 15.
Williams ran to the Little Rock 2, and scored on the next play with 1:14 left in the third quarter. Baker’s PAT was good but trailed 35-14.
Little Rock answered, helped by runs of 14 and 30 yards by Dyer-Jones. Jones scored on a 15-yard run around left end with 11:44 left to play and a 42-14 lead.
Magnolia scored on its next play from scrimmage Curry took a pitch from Blanchard to the left and cut against the grain to right, racing 65 yards for a touchdown. Baker’s PAT with 11:16 left made the score 42-21.
Little Rock drove 79 yards to the Magnolia 1 before giving the ball up on downs. Magnolia made one final 99-yard scoring drive. The major play was a 39-yard pass from Blanchard to Curry. Blanchard scored on a 1-yard run with 2:04 to play. The conversion failed.
The Panthers (0-3) have one remaining non-conference game as they travel to El Dorado for a 7 p.m. Friday contest. The Wildcats are 1-1 after a 41-35 loss to Cabot. After that, Magnolia travels to Texarkana for the start of Class 5A-South play.