ALVARADO — For all of the well-deserved praise regularly showered on the Midlothian Heritage offense, the defensive unit has quietly become the strength of the still undefeated and state-ranked Jaguar football team.
Heritage netted 441 yards of offense while its defense limited the Alvarado Indians to 181 total yards and 10 first downs in a 38-10 Jaguar win Friday night.
The Indians did not find the end zone until their first play of the fourth quarter after settling for a 23-yard field goal with 7:50 to play in the first half. Noah Parker and Cade Sumbler recorded interceptions to lead the stingy defensive unit that has now held opponents to 21 or fewer points in six of their seven wins on the season.
After the game, Heritage head football coach Lee Wiginton applauded the play of Alvarado, adding that the Indians are a "great football team" that plays the game "incredibly physical.” He also acknowledged the budding rivalry, stating, "In just two short years they’ve turned into a really good rival. Our guys knew coming over here they were going to get their best and we knew we had to give them our best."
“I felt like our defense dominated [Alvarado] for four full quarters," Wiginton added. "Offensively, there were a number of scenarios that where we didn’t do very good, and we put the defense right back out on the field in a not very good situation. But our defense kept fighting them all evening. They played brilliantly all evening and I’m very proud of them.”
The Jaguars, who entered as the No. 7-ranked team in the Associated Press 4A state poll, improved to 7-0 on the season and 2-0 in District 6-4A.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Langston Anderson and quarterback Landon Ledbetter set the tone on the first Jaguar play from scrimmage. Ledbetter found Anderson for a 52-yard touchdown pass with 9:25 on the first quarter clock for a 7-0 lead.
Matt Stanton later added a 46-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the quarter to send the Jaguars into the second quarter up 10-0.
Ledbetter added his second touchdown pass with 11 seconds to play in the first half when he hooked up Kerrion Fields from 12 yards out.
The senior signal-caller finished the game 11-of-23 through the air for 191 yards and one interception. He also ran eight times for 24 yards.
Fields again found the end zone after halftime. His 11-yard touchdown run put the Jaguars up 24-3, and Nathan Gaskamp added the first of his two scores about three minutes later for a 31-3 Heritage lead. Gaskamp scored again, this time from 1-yard out, with 4:24 to play in the game to cap the scoring and seal the Jaguar win, 38-10.
“We had some great spots offensively. There were times when we played really well but left a lot out there. We left a lot of points out there, and we left a lot of drives out there,” Wiginton said. “We didn’t play as clean offensively as we needed to. But it is exciting to come over to Alvarado against a great program on their home field with our offense not playing near their best and still come out with a very convincing victory.”
Gaskamp also led all ball carriers with a game-high 125 yards on 15 carries. Raja Banks added 71 yards on 5 totes and Fields ended with three carries for 38 yards.
Anderson hauled in a team-leading five catches for 92 yards and Fields posted 71 yards on his three grabs.
For the run-first Indians, Andrew Barajas led the way with 19 carries for 100 yards, while Blake Henderson carried the football 15 times for 52 yards. Quarterback Logan Garrison completed 3-of-his-13 pass attempts for 18 yards.
Heritage outgained Alvarado 441 yards to 181 and netted 11 more first downs (21-10).
The Jaguars return home to host Dallas Carter at Midlothian ISD Multipurpose Stadium on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The Cowboys are 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in district play.
“It will be a great game," Wiginton said. "They have been rolling through everybody, so we are excited. It will be a full four-quarter game. We need everyone to come out and cheer the boys on.”
*Additional reporting by Mike Sackett/MIRROR