HICO - Tyler Russell scored nine rushing touchdowns to lead the Abbott Panthers to a 74-60 win over the Gordon Longhorns Saturday night in a six man Division I state semifinal game at Tiger Stadium.
Abbott advances to the state championship game where they will face Throckmorton.
The game was a seesaw affair in the first quarter, but with 18 seconds left in the opening period Gordon took a 24-18 lead after a 29-yard touchdown pass from Emory Allen to Pedro Lopez.
But a pair of Rusell TD runs surrounding a Gordon turnover gave the Panthers a 30-24 lead, where it remained at the half.
In the third quarter, Lopez caught a two-yard touchdown pass to knot the game at 30.
But Abbott returned the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown and booted the PAT to take a 38-30 lead.
On the Longhorns' ensuing possession, Abbott forced Gordon out on downs and took a 46-30 lead on a 17-yard sprint to pay dirt by Russell.
The 'Horns got the score back on their next possession when Michael Cherry threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Allen to cap a six-play, 49-yard drive. Jeremy Jorgensen booted the PAT to cut the Panthers' lead to 46-38.
But just before the third quarter ended, Russell struck again. On Abbott's first play from scrimmage, Russell scored on a 69-yard run to extend his team's lead to 52-38.
Gordon needed just four plays to get back into the game. Allen threw a strike down the middle to Tristen Garmon, who briefly bobbled the ball but regained control and sprinted down the left sidleine to compete a 35-yard TD pass play with 9:27 left in the fourth period.
Jorgensen's kick cut Abbott's lead to 52-46.
On Abbott's first play from scrimmage on its following series, Russell ran past the 'Horns and reached the end zone on a 37-yard jaunt to increase the Panthers' lead to 60-46.
Gordon came back with a six-play, 56-yard drive that was finished off on a four-yard TD pass from Cherry to Lopez as the 'Horns cut the Panthers' lead to 60-52 with 6:42 remaining.
However, Russell struck again. On the Panthers' first play of the drive, Russell found an opening and sprinted 45 yards across the goal line with 6:33 left to play. The PAT was blocked as Abbott led 66-52.
The 'Horns came back with a five-play drive that ended on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Cherry to Brandon Gonzales with 6:00 left on the clock.
Jorgensen's kick cut Abbott's lead to 66-60.
The Longhorns put themselves in position to take the lead when they stopped Abbott on four downs.
However, a pair of costly penalties and an untimely incompletion on a dropped pass gave the Panthers the ball on downs.
Abbott put the game away on a four-yard TD run by Russell as the Panthers hung on for a 74-60 win.
Editor's note: The Gordon/Abbott game began after the Index's Sunday press deadline. For the complete story see Tuesday's Index.