It didn’t start the way Peyton’s football team expected.

But it was a wake-up call.

Colorado Springs Christian School came out attacking, scoring on its first drive. But the Panthers didn’t back down as they supplied a run-first offense that gradually picked up speed and efficiency en route a 37-19 home victory Thursday night to stay undefeated.

“That was a good early test for us,” Peyton coach Richard Deems said.

The Panthers held just a 15-6 halftime lead.

Peyton (2-0) maintained the lead from there but CSCS always seemed a play or two away from coming back. Take, for example, when the Panthers went up 21-13 on Trevor Walker’s 39-yard touchdown — his second — with 9:47 left in the game.

Lions running back, Peyton Brones, responded with a 65-yard score on the next play to cut the deficit to 21-19.

But the Panthers wrapped up the game with two touchdowns by JD Hart, in addition to a timely interception by Clay Sims, to secure the hard-fought win.

CSCS took its time scoring its first touchdown, eating up nearly 7 minutes on the opening drive for 13 plays and 65 yards. Brones got the first eight touches, and Grant Baker capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 6-0 lead.

The Panthers did not take long to respond.

Josh Gonzales scored on a short TD run, giving Peyton a 7-6 lead with 6:27 left in the first quarter. A key moment in the drive was Hart’s 23-yard run on fourth-and-4 to set up the score.

Then, Walker scored a 5-yard TD to give Peyton a 15-6 lead late in the first half after a 2-point conversion.

It seemed early on that the game could go either way.

“We came out flat,” Walker said. “It took us a while to figure things out.”

But the Panthers quickly took care of things in the second half by relying on their offense and limiting Brones — who finished with two TDs — from becoming a game-changer.

The win over CSCS is just the beginning as the Panthers have aspirations to make a deep postseason run.

“We know we’re a good team,” Walker said, “but we have an opportunity to do something big this year with how many seniors we have. We gotta play together.”

Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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