Week 4: Vista Panthers 42, Morse Tigers 20
The resurrection of this rivalry of old will go down as a poor argument for an immediate return of the Morse Tigers and Vista Panthers to annual regular-season play, as the Panthers trounced the Tigers 42-20 in front of a home crowd in Vista Friday night.
Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, the Tigers and Panthers kept the crowd guessing as to which might be king of the felines in Week 4. Taking advantage of Morse’s second-half mistakes — including a pair of fumbles in the third quarter — the Panthers broke out of their cage when Vista running back David Flores rushed in a pair of touchdowns to first break the teams’ 14-14 tie, then to give Vista a dominating 28-14 lead late in the third quarter.
Running back Brian “Bam” Kelly gave Vista fans a reason to keep calling out his nickname as he rushed in a 37-yarder for a score and an even greater 35-14 Vista lead in the fourth. Meanwhile, Vista quarterback Josh Davies’ 9-yard keeper a short time later for a touchdown was like taking the catnip away from a Tiger that desperately needed some feel-good moments. Morse would go on to add a final whisper of a cat’s hiss with a third touchdown — with just minutes left in the game — but Vista proved its dominance in this one.
The last time these two teams, which had previously met every season from 1980 to 2005, played each other was in 2007. Don’t expect the demand to be too great for these teams to play again for at least a little while.
The 2-1 Vista Panthers will return this week to a more competitive part of the team’s schedule, hosting the 2-1 Morse Tigers after a convincing win over the much-lower-ranked Rancho Buena Vista Longhorns in Week 3. Unlike the Longhorns, the Tigers can boast a winning record, and although Morse is still ranked lower per MaxPreps standards (Vista holds a MaxPreps state ranking of 180 versus Morse’s ranking of 284), the Panthers can expect a more evenly-matched game than was experienced last week.
Given Vista’s near-shutout loss in Week 2 against the high-ranked La Costa Canyon Mavericks, this match-up between two teams performing about as expected at this point in the season will determine if Vista limps or leaps into the start of its Palomar League action in the near future. Morse, meanwhile, is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season last week, suffered against the undefeated Lincoln Hornets in what’s been dubbed the “Diamond District Rivalry Game.” Fans should expect both teams to come hungry for a “W,” but if either of the teams has more to gain, it appears to be Morse, which needs a win against a higher-ranked opponent to bolster its status as a contender.