MIDLOTHIAN — For the first time this season, the Midlothian Heritage Jaguars trailed in a football game. But, as a mum-and-garter-clad homecoming crowd cheered, the Jaguars did not trail for long against the Crandall Pirates on Friday night at Midlothian ISD Multipurpose Stadium.
The (4-0) Heritage offense responded and its defense toughened for the 40-21 win. The Pirates fell to 2-2 on the season with the loss. Friday marked the first homecoming game with Midlothian Heritage High School alumni in attendance, as MHHS celebrated its first graduating class in May. Heritage entered the game as the eighth-ranked team in the Associated Press Class 4A state poll.
“It was a great homecoming win. They are a great football team. We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Heritage head football coach Lee Wiginton on the field after the game. “We expected a battle for four full quarters. They run the ball extremely well. They are a very physical football team. They are very well coached. The played the game at a high level.”
Crandall opened the scoring with a seven-minute drive that ended in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Pruitt to Josh Redding. Heritage responded about three-and-a-half minutes later when Nathan Gaskamp capped a Jaguar drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
But, because the point-after attempt failed, Heritage found itself on the wrong end of a 7-6 score at the end of the first quarter.
“We didn’t expect to shut a team like that out and expected to go four full quarters,” Wiginton said. “I’m very proud of the guys the way they responded after that first touchdown.”
“[...] After that first drive, we got them in some situations where we had them in third-and-long, and we had the on fourth down at times. We just couldn’t get off the field,” he added. “That is going to happen against good teams. We will continue to improve and continue to get better. But, it’s one of those situations where against good teams, they are going to score.”
Including the touchdown run by Gaskamp, the Heritage offense went on to score 40 consecutive points to build a 40-7 lead with 5:26 to play in the third quarter. Three of those scores came on offensive drives of three plays or fewer, which included a 75-yard Dre Washington touchdown run off of a direct snap to the running back. Quarterback Landon Ledbetter (11-15, 173 yards) connected with Langston Anderson and Kerrion Fields (5-68) for 45 and 54 yards for the other two quick scores.
Ledbetter also tossed a four-yard touchdown pass to Fields to cap the 40-point run in the third quarter. Fields ended the game with a team-high five grabs for 68 yards and two touchdowns, while Ledbetter added a rushing touchdown on one of his six carries for 56 yards.
“We didn’t think we played that well on offense against Decatur last week. But we are much cleaner than that. So, I was proud of the way the guys responded to this week’s practice,” Wiginton said. “We felt we had a good week of practice. We felt we were going to play cleaner. It was exciting to come off and see them do that.”
Heritage will now turn its focus on (2-2) Sanger after the Indians lost their district opener to Bridgeport 37-35. Wiginton said Sanger plays a physical brand of football a lot like Crandall and expects another good test for the Jaguars.
“They are incredibly physical. It’s one of those teams that to get ready to play teams in our district, you have to be ready to play well against them. So it will be a great text and we have seven days to get ready for them.”