charles stiff photo Mabank quarterback Kolton Browning prepares to unleash a pass Friday night against the Rusk Eagles at Panther Stadium. The Panthers opened the season with a convincing 58-21 win over Rusk.

MABANK – Don’t look now, but the Mabank Panther fans just may have themselves a ball club.

The Panthers put 58 on the board against Rusk in Friday night’s 58-21 season opening victory.

That may sound like a lot, but for Panther fans, who seemed stunned by their own team’s offensive firepower, can tell you if Mabank coaches hadn’t decided to show some compassion for the defense in the second half, there’s no telling how many points Rusk might have scored.

At the same time, the Panthers might have scored 100.

It wasn’t like they were ever in trouble.

But after a good start by the defense, after the Panthers jumped to a 21-0 lead by scoring on three of their first four possessions, Mabank coaches finally had something to get disturbed about for their halftime discussion.

From that point on, until halftime, the two teams would split the next 42 points, all before halftime when the Panthers went to the dressing room with a 42-21 lead.

The Panthers were only slightly more conservative in the second half, but they had just enough ball control to rest their defense and throw Rusk out of its second-quarter momentum.

A more rested Panther defense in the second half completely shut down the Rusk offense.

The Panthers did put up another 16 points, including three field goals by sophomore kicker Michael Blackburn.

For those who missed it, junior quarterback Kolton Browning completed 10 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns the first four times Mabank had the football.

He was in on five first half touchdowns, throwing for three of them and running it himself on two more drives.

He was complemented by a bevy of receivers who looked more like bees than Panthers buzzing around and stinging the Eagles secondary with touchdown after touchdown.

The Panthers went 78 yards on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead, and in that drive, Browning completed a passes of 43 and 31 and five yards for the touchdown, all to junior wide receiver Jake Birch.

After failing to move the ball on its second possessions, the Panthers apologized to their fans by roaring 87 yards in five plays to make it 14-0.

Browning hit ChrisMurff for for 33 yards, Dewayne Hammilton for 15 and then ran the final nine yards on two carries himself for the touchdown.

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