The Dierks Outlaws staged a second-half comeback Friday night but came up short, 45-41, against the Fouke Panthers.
The loss drops the Outlaws to 1-2. Dierks will open conference play this week in a road game to Mountain Pine Friday. Kick-off is set for 7:00. The Red Devils, new to the 2A-7 conference, are 0-3 on the season.
The Panthers (3A-6) put up three unanswered touchdowns in the first half before Dierks’ offense, led by backup quarterback Lane Woodruff, found its stride in the second quarter to keep the game in reach at the half, 27-14.
The Outlaws opened the third-quarter scoring when Jed Morrow carried a Panther fumble into the end zone and Guillermo Sanz’ kick cut the lead to 27-21. Fouke’s next points came quickly with a 75-yard TD run good for a 33-21 lead.
Dierks’ next points came even quicker when Woodruff took the ensuing kick-off 84 yards for a touchdown and Sanz cut into the Panther lead, 33-28. Fouke set the third-quarter score at 39-28 when junior Charley Baker broke a 72-yard TD.
Jarret Easley’s one-yard TD capped the Fouke scoring with more than 11 minutes left in the game. Dierks’ attempt at a comeback started when Woodruff hooked up with receiver Jarret Fox for fourth-quarter TD receptions of seven and 42 yards and Sanz added a kick, but the Panthers were able to run the clock out on the 45-41 win.
Fouke had 454 yards of offense with 341 coming on the ground. QB Landon Gonzalez hit three of 10 passes for 113 yards and one TD. Baker led the Panther rushers with 157 and two touchdowns.
Dierks had 278 total yards of offense. Woodruff hit six of 12 passes for 75 yards with one interception and two TDs and led the Outlaw ground game with 14 carries for 116 yards. Cale Adams had two carries for 57 yards and Peyton Frachiseur carried four times for 28 yards and two TDs. Fox led the Outlaw receivers with four catches for 67 yards and two TDs. Jacob Sharp also had two catches for eight yards.
Adams led the Outlaw tackle chart with 19 stops followed by Morrow with nine and Frachiseur with eight, Fox with six and Sharp with five.