Arnold comeback bit falls short in loss to Pensacola

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Trailing 32-14 nearly midway through the third quarter, Arnold looked well on its way to another lopsided District 1-5A defeat at the hands of Pensacola.


The Marlins then proceeded to score 18 of the next 24 points to make it a one-score game with just under four minutes remaining, but a costly penalty cut their comeback attempt short and left them with a 38-32 loss.


Arnold fell to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in district play with the loss, while the Tigers (1-7 overall, 1-2 in district) notched their first victory of the season.


“It was a heck of a game,” Marlins coach Norris Vaughan said. “We had a chance to win it. Our downfall was having three or four fumbles. We fumbled twice at about midfield and fumbled twice inside their 30. It’s a shame because we had them stopped (on the Tigers’ last series) and then we had a big penalty and that let them run the clock out.”


That penalty, a 15-yard personal foul, came with Pensacola facing a third-and-8 following a 65-yard touchdown pass from Banks Byers to Alex Noble that cut the lead to 38-32 with 3:40 remaining in the game.


Vaughan said it was “tough call,” but he expressed pride in his players’ resiliency after facing the early deficit in a game they were playing without injured starting quarterback Liam Byrd and second-leading rusher Rock Holland.


“We really battled,” Vaughan said. “I think we turned a corner and grew a lot from this game.”


The Tigers led 20-14 at halftime and quickly extended the lead to 32-14 by converting two Arnold turnovers directly into touchdowns.


Trailing 38-20 in the fourth, Arnold got a 45-yard touchdown run from Noble with 6:42 left to play to cut the deficit to 38-26.


Arnold will be back in action on Friday at Pine Forest. Pensacola will also play on Friday at West Florida.