Dillard was depleted.
But it didn’t let itself be defeated.
The Panthers headed into Saturday’s game against Hallandale with six of its top defensive players injured.
But needing to hold the explosive Chargers in check, Dillard responded and rallied for a 23-16 comeback win at home over Hallandale.
“Everybody has kept fighting and kept believing in themselves on this team and their belief they can be champions this season,” Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said.
One of the Panthers’ best, defensive lineman Jordan Wright, was added to the list that also includes tackle Jonathan Ford when he hobbled off with an injured left leg early in the third quarter. He did not return.
But Dillard (2-0) held Hallandale (1-1) without a first down for more than a quarter in the second half as its offense scored 20 unanswered points to take a 23-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Francois Moise connected twice for touchdowns with receiver Abdul Leiba.
A 10-yard strike late in the second cut Hallandale’s lead to 10-9 after the Chargers blocked the extra point.
Following an interception by John Clayton, Dillard took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by George Golden. The Panthers went for two and converted on a pass from Moise to Bryce Oliver to take a 17-10 lead.
Dillard’s defense yielded only one first down for most of the second half until Hallandale finally answered on a 3-yard touchdown by quarterback Legend Moore with 3:15 left in the fourth.
Moore finished with 86 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 101 yards passing.
Hallandale forced a punt and had one final offensive series with 1:14 left.
Once again Dillard’s defense answered with intense pressure on Moore, sacking him on fourth down to seal the game.
Moise completed 7 of 19 passes for 140 yards, and Dillard ran for 132 yards overall.
“We had some guys that stepped up and made some plays,” Davis said. “We’re kind of young at the quarterback position right now, but they’re getting better every week.”