High School Football

Paetow falls to No. 5 Foster, playoff play-in game looms

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/7/20

In a matter of a week, Paetow is going from playing to keep its district championship hopes alive to playing for a playoff berth.

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High School Football

Paetow falls to No. 5 Foster, playoff play-in game looms

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In a matter of a week, Paetow is going from playing to keep its district championship hopes alive to playing for a playoff berth.

The Panthers fell to No. 5 state-ranked Richmond Foster, 28-10, on Saturday at Legacy Stadium. That win awarded the Falcons winners of Zone A in District 10-5A, Division I. Foster (6-0) plays Manvel, winner of Zone B, for the district title next week.

Paetow, meanwhile, suffered just its first loss of the season and now stands 5-1. However, because of the loss to Foster, the Panthers will play Angleton next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Angleton in a playoff play-in game. Winner goes to the playoffs. Loser is eliminated from postseason contention.

The hastened fate is product of the district deciding to split its nine teams into zones in order to accommodate flexible scheduling because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

“It’s 2020, man. Every day is a new deal,” Paetow coach B.J. Gotte said. “It’s like the playoffs, which is odd, but it really is. If you win, you move on. If you don’t, you go home.”

Paetow led Foster, 10-7, when junior Anthony Fuentes nailed a 40-yard field goal with 9:30 left in the third quarter.

And then it was all Falcons.

On Foster’s next series, senior running back Xavier Smallwood scurried 24 yards untouched up the middle to put the Falcons ahead to stay. Less than four minutes later, Foster senior quarterback Philip Amy found Ethan Newton for a 62-yard score on third down.

And with 1:26 left in the third, senior receiver and Oklahoma commit Cody Jackson scored the second of his two touchdowns on a 47-yard catch-and-run score to cap the scoring.

Foster outscored Paetow in the third quarter, 21-3, to win the game.

“We were with them in the first half, and in the second half they just outplayed us,” Paetow senior running back Damon Bankston said. “They came out after halftime more ready than we were.”

The Panthers struggled to get anything going offensively. Bankston had 171 of Paetow’s 187 total yards of offense. He was a headache for Foster’s defensive front seven, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring the Panthers’ only touchdown, but had little support.

Junior quarterback C.J. Dumas Jr. completed just 11 of 26 passes for 125 yards. The Panthers fumbled four times, losing all four. A generally stingy Paetow defensive front did not manage to get much pressure on Amy, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Foster totaled 438 yards. Jackson caught only four passes for 67 yards, but set the tone early when a direct snap to him on the game’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a 70-yard burst down the visitors sideline for an early 7-0 Falcons lead 12 seconds into the game.

“It’s my fault, from the get-go,” Gotte said. “I should’ve called timeout. I was about to. The center and quarterback are on the side. It’s obvious. That’s on me. Our kids responded well from that, and we were in the game. But we just learn from it.”

Bankston said the Falcons had more skill, but felt the Panthers had more heart.

“We just died out in the second half,” Bankston said. “We’ll learn from it. We need a harder week of practice; we need everybody focused. We need a practice week of no errors.”

Gotte was proud of the way his kids competed. Yes, Foster was as fast, well-coached and dynamic offensively as advertised, but he felt his team also suffered from self-inflicted mistakes, like poor alignments on defense and poor fundamentals up front.

“I don’t like losing, but I can deal with it if our kids can learn from it,” Gotte said. “We’ve got to bounce back and we’ve got to refocus. Our goals are still in front of us, as far as making the playoffs and making a run.”

Paetow must rebound. Or its season will be over.

“Everybody is disappointed,” Bankston said. “But we’ll get our spirits back. Nobody in that locker room is happy, but we’ll be ready, and we have to. We have to come back ready to take on Angleton.”

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