ODESSA — With a new quarterback at the helm and a pair of seasoned receivers, Vandegrift’s offense showed flashes of promise in Friday night’s opener. The Vipers just weren’t able to recover from a slow start in front of a hostile crowd at Odessa’s Ratliff Stadium, falling 28-24 on Friday night.
First-year starter Justin Moore proved to be a bit of a gunslinger, going 11-for-22 passing with two touchdowns. Moore connected on a number of big pass plays and had the ball in place for what was almost another pair of scores.
Vipers wide receiver Justin Moore tossed a 59-yard touchdown pass to Reese Watson on a double-pass play, lifting Vandegrift to its first lead of the night after falling behind 14-0 in the first half.
“We played a really good football team, and we were that close,” Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders told his team after the game.
Permian’s run-heavy offense relied on motion and option-pitches, but racked up 320 yards rushing on 57 carries. Panthers quarterback Steve Steen only attempted nine passes, competing five, but it was the final pass that pushed Permian back ahead on the clock and set the final score with just 1:22 left in the game.
“It’s just a first game, and unfortunately when you play good (teams), you just can’t overcome mistakes as we made tonight,” Sanders said after the game. “Justin (Moore) played admirably, we had a few guys on the offensive line who were playing their first game… so we had a few breakdowns, but we’ll be just fine.”
A true bright spot for the Vipers was in the kicking game, where punter/kicker Alex Stadhaus flipped the field with long punts and kicked a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Vandegrift returns home to host Cedar Park next Friday at 7:30 p.m.