Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: This time, the comeback belongs to Duncanville
DUNCANVILLE - In the first game of the season, Duncanville blew a 14-point lead in the final minute and lost. In the second game, Duncanville lost a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost.
By the time Duncanville fans were biting their nails in the final minute of Friday night's game, their team had lost another two-touchdown lead. But this time, the Panthers didn't fall apart.
Instead, they watched a 28-yard pass fall into the arms of receiver Jeff Thomas, who was well-covered in the end zone as time expired at Panther Stadium. Thomas secured the ball and Duncanville secured its biggest win of the season: a 41-35 victory over previously undefeated Mansfield.
Thomas' catch was the biggest play on a night of big plays. Most of those plays came by the offenses for Duncanville (4-2, 3-0 in District 5-5A) and Mansfield (5-1, 2-1), which combined for nearly 1,000 yards.
The offenses piled up big yards and they also made critical plays when the defenses forced them into third and fourth downs. Duncanville's biggest one came on its winning drive, when Divan Ealy completed an 11-yard pass to Jalen Parker on third-and-10. Parker was hit a few yards short of the first down, but pulled away from one tackler and then reached for the first down as the clock rolled under a minute.
Ealy completed 22 of 34 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, but his most impressive play didn't score any points. On Duncanville's opening drive of the second half, it faced a third-and-24 at its 40. Ealy, as he was getting hit, delivered a 28-yard pass to Parker. Chris Simpson's 8-yard touchdown run five plays later gave Duncanville five straight touchdown drives - and a 35-21 lead midway through the third quarter.
Duncanville would need the cushion as Mansfield rallied to tie the game at 35, helped by the strong second-half running of Damon Bullock, who rushed 25 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jerod Evans also broke off several nice runs, including scrambles of 17 and 19 yards.
By the end of the game, however, Duncanville had all the reason to celebrate.
One big reason was the medical report on defensive end Josh Uland, who was injured late in the first quarter. Uland was taken off on a stretcher, but he raised his arm to acknowledge the crowd's applause as he was taken off the field. Duncanville coach Jeff Dicus said after the game that Uland was taken off by stretcher as a precaution, but he was OK.
The other reason was the final touchdown, which led to Duncanville players pouring from the sidelines to swarm Thomas in the back of the end zone. Duncanville got a penalty for excessive celebration, but you can hardly blame the Panthers for wanting to keep the celebration going.
It was finally their turn.