By BOB WRIGHT
COLLEGE STATION – Speed proved to be the difference Friday night before virtually a full house at Tigerland in A&M Consolidated’s season opener as the Tigers dropped a 17-9 decision to the Klein Oak Panthers.
The Tigers, learning a new wide-open offense under new Coach, David Raffield, are in the process of converting to a pass offense from a run-oriented attack over the past few seasons.
Notre Dame bound quarterback Nicky Baratti, directed the Klein Oak attack, pushing over for a touchdown from the Consol six in the second quarter, then clinched the win with a one-yard run with 3:01 to go in the third quarter to close out scoring. Kwame Koffour kicked both extra points and a 34-yard field goal to get the scoring underway to put the Panthers up 3-0 in the opening period.
Later in the period, a fast-rushing D line downed Bernatti in the end zone for a safety when the ball sailed over his head back in the shotgun. At that juncture, it looked more like a baseball score than football, at 3-2.
Consol took the lead when Durasis Nutall zipped in on a 15-yard reverse, going ahead 8-3. Justin Zimmerman’s kick made it 9-3 late in the second quarter.
The Panthers tied it on Baratti’s six-yard run. Koffour’s kick put the Panthers ahead to say, although they would add another touchdown on Baratti’s one-yard zip into the end zone.
Consol was forced to punt 10 times as a speedy time and again shut down the Tiger offense on third-down situations. Consol registered 10 first downs to 12 for Klein Oak. Consol absorbed some big losses on running plays, which cut heavily into their ground total. Beratti and RB Jaylon Brown led a punishing rushing attack for the visitors, while Baratti triggered a 216-yard attack through the air.
Despite the heavy offensive numbers, the Tiger defense played tough despite having to be on the field a lot on a hot and humid night. Tackle J.J. Bynum, end Jimmie Gilbert and linebacker Marshall Strain spearheaded the battling Tiger defense.
Jacob Bronowski lofted 29 passes and completed 15 for 100 yards. Quinton White threw one pass.
Consol’s next game will be next Friday night at Cypress Woods.