With Princeton coming into its second District 12-3A game with a perfect record for the season and Anna coming off a disappointing loss to Bonham — a team Princeton had already dismantled — few people gave the Coyotes a chance.
The pack proved they should not be overlooked.
Anna (3-6, 2-1) kept up with Princeton (7-1, 1-1) early and was able to pull away in the second half with 21 unanswered points to secure the 42-28 win.
“Obviously this is a big win,” Anna Head Coach Jason Heath said. “We finally put together a game like we thought they could. Our coaches put together a great game plan but our players went out and executed it well.
“These players could have easily been intimidated by a much bigger, much more athletic team but they were not. I’m very proud of their efforts.”
The Panthers started the game on offense and drove it to the Coyote 20 yard line before turning it over on downs. On their next possession they moved the ball with precision, and Trey Jackson found the end zone with a 5-yard run midway through the opening quarter.
Looking to stay in the game, the Coyotes came out on their ensuing drive and got behind their nearly unstoppable sophomore running back, Isaac Armijo. Armijo had a 40-yard run to get Anna into Panther territory and the red zone and then scored from 13 yards out to tie the score.
The shifty sophomore scored five of Anna’s six touchdowns and finished the night with 292 rushing yards in total.
On their ensuing possession, Princeton was in a passing situation on third-and-12 when Chase Pinion sacked Jourdan Blake. The sack forced a punt that was returned by Joseph Lopez for 50 yards.
A few plays later, Armijo broke through the right side of the line and scored from 11 yards out to give Anna the lead. The Panthers found themselves chasing that lead the rest of the night.
Blake scored on a run-away dash from 62 yards out to bring Princeton even in the last few seconds of the first quarter. He finished the game with 158 yards and three scores on the ground and 188 yards through the air.
Anna scored in the second quarter with a Ty Chapman run from 10 yards out. It looked like the Coyotes would go into halftime with the lead, but Princeton was able to convert a fourth-and-5 that was tipped off an Anna defenders hands and kept alive.
Blake was able to score moments later, and at the end of the first half the score was tied at 21-all.
On its first drive of the second half, Anna was able to capitalize on a 55-yard connection from Chapman to John Erwin to set up another Armijo score and the Coyotes regained the lead.
In the fourth quarter, Armijo scored twice more and Anna was able to build a 42-21 advantage. A late touchdown from Princeton was of little consequence as the Coyotes pulled off the upset win.
Anna is now in an interesting position with a chance to compete for a piece of the district title if Melissa takes down Princeton on Friday and the Coyotes can defeat Melissa the final week of the season. If Princeton defeats Melissa, Anna, Melissa and Princeton will all be tied for first in 12-3A.
“This put us in the playoffs and gives us a chance to possibly play for a district championship,” Heath said. “Great to see our seniors get such a big when on a night that was special for them.”
Either way, Anna now has two weeks to enjoy this win and prepare for their biggest game of the season against its biggest local rival, Melissa.