BORGER — Friday night at Bulldog Stadium was the final exam for Palo Duro and Borger heading into district play, and while the final grades were different, both teams passed their tests.
Palo Duro, off to its best start since 2001, fell behind by three scores in the first half against winless Borger. But in a game in which toughness counted far more than flash, the Dons rallied with 20 straight points, as an early fourth quarter touchdown stood up for Palo Duro in a 20-19 victory. The win wasn’t secured until PD blocked a 50-yard Borger field-goal attempt on the game’s final play.
The Dons will enter District 3-4A play next week with a 4-1 record, which is more momentum than they had last season. And it didn’t matter that Palo Duro, which had put up pretty big offensive numbers in the first four games, beat a Borger team that fell to 0-6, although the Bulldogs are far better than their record indicates.
“There’s no such thing as an ugly win a year after you go 2-8,” Palo Duro coach Steve Parr said. “I have to give Borger a lot of credit.”
The Dons fell behind 19-0 as the Bulldogs used a game plan that would have gotten approval from Darrell Royal or Woody Hayes. Borger had two runners rush for more than 100 yards and only put the ball in the air when it seemed like an emergency.
But the Dons woke up, as their defense stiffened up in the second half and quarterback Malik Sims made enough plays with his arm and legs to rally Palo Duro.
“Our kids really came back and did a great job in the second half,” Parr said. “I think our character really showed through. We didn’t fold our tent after we got down.”
In the first half, Borger took a 19-7 lead by running 38 plays without a single forward pass.
Palo Duro took the second half kickoff and went 61 yards in six plays, ending the drive on a 34-yard Sims scramble for a touchdown to cut the score to 19-14. Early in the fourth quarter, after the Dons got a reprieve on a roughing the punter call, Sims threw a 25-yard score to Xavier Dixon with 10:43 left for a 20-19 lead.
“We just started really slowly, but I knew my team would pick it up,” said Sims, who threw for 113 yards and ran for 61. “We took (Borger) lightly and didn’t play like we usually play. You’ve got to learn to respect all your opponents.”
The Bulldogs took over at their own 23-yard line in the final three minutes. With a fourth-and-8 from their own 40, backup quarterback Zac Guinn notched his only completion of the night, a 15-yard throw to Colton Hunter which put Borger in Palo Duro territory.
The Bulldogs got as far as Palo Duro’s 27, but a false start penalty and a sack of Guinn by Jimaine Westmoreland forced a 50-yard field-goal attempt by Alexis Aguilar on the final play of the game. The Dons blocked it to preserve the win.
Kendrick Freeman had 139 yards on 32 carries, and Dontrae Butler had 121 yards on 26 carries for the Bulldogs. Such a ground-bound attack was expected because starting quarterback Jacob Rendon had ankle surgery earlier in the week after he was knocked out of last week’s loss to Randall.
“Those passes we threw weren’t even in the game plan,” Borger coach James Day said. “Except for a few penalties it was almost perfect. With three starters down on offense, we’ll take it.”
Butler, who transferred from Tascosa, scored on a pair of 2-yard runs which gave the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. Then three plays after the Dons couldn’t handle Borger’s kickoff, Freeman scored on his own 2-yard run which gave the Bulldogs a 19-0 lead.
- 12/7/12 - Wellington wallops Sudan
- 12/7/12 - Follett advances to state title game
- 12/7/12 - Bulldogs take bite out of Elks
- 12/1/12 - Stratford too strong for Panhandle
- 12/1/12 - Skyrockets thump Springlake-Earth
- 12/1/12 - Booker QB Lile breaks 2 passing marks in loss
- 11/30/12 - Follett routs Matadors
- 11/24/12 - Skyrockets zoom past Bovina
- 11/24/12 - Canadian takes out No. 9 Cisco, 27-20
- 11/24/12 - Wheeler falls to Wolverines
Palo Duro 20, Borger 19
Palo Duro 0 7 7 6 — 20
Borger 7 12 0 0 — 19
B—Dontrae Butler 2 run (Alexis Aguilar kick)
B—Butler 2 run (run failed)
B—Kendrick Freeman 2 run (run failed)
PD—Anthony McLain 1 run (Tito Estrada kick)
PD—Malik Sims 34 run (Estrada kick)
PD—Xavier Dixon 25 pass from Sims (pass failed)
Palo Duro Borger
First Downs 13 16
Rushing 101 265
Passing 113 15
Total yards 214 280
C-A-I 10-23-1 1-5-0
Punts 4-26.0 4-32.5
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 9-69 15-104
Rushing—Palo Duro: Joseph Taylor 10-36, Antaun Turner 3-4, Charleston White 1-(-1), McLain 2-1, Sims 4-61. Borger: Butler 26-121, Freeman 32-139, Zac Guinn 5-(-4), Aaron McKee 2-10, Tanner Gowdy 1-(-1).
Passing—Palo Duro: Sims 10-22-1-113, Montrel Meander 0-1-0-0. Borger: Guinn 1-5-0-15.
Receiving—Palo Duro: Meander 3-29, Jimaine Westmoreland 1-3, Dee Taylor 3-36, J. Taylor 1-4, Dixon 1-25, Randolph 1-16. Borger: Colton Hunter 1-15.
Palo Duro 20, Borger 19
n Records: Palo Duro 4-1, Borger 0-6.
n Noteworthy: Palo Duro closes out the game with 20 unanswered points as the Dons survive Borger’s ground onslaught in the final nondistrict game for both schools.