MANSFIELD — Down two scores at the half, the Midlothian Panthers pulled seven points from a second District 10-5A upset late in the third quarter.
But the Mansfield Summit Jaguars had other plans. The Panthers ultimately fell 55-35 after three-consecutive Jaguar touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters of Friday’s district football game at R.L. Anderson Stadium in Mansfield.
When the Panthers entered the locker room at halftime, they did so having held their own, at least offensively, against the Jaguars. Summit had outgained the Midlothian offense 324 yards to 254.
The Panthers nearly matched the Jaguar rushing attack step-for-step, though, and ended the first half with 202 rushing yards to Summit’s 203. Thanks to two Austen Thomas touchdown runs and a third by Landy Songer, Midlothian trailed 34-21 at the break. Thomas also added 95 rushing yards, while Landry Songer ran 11 times for 70 yards. Thomas completed his lone passing attempt for 52 yards to Nolan Samek.
Midlothian also did not commit a turnover in the first half.
Richard Chark led all ball carriers with 118 yards and two scores on 10 carries in the opening stanza. Jaguar quarterback Brysen McKinney completed 4-of-6 passes for 121 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. All four passes went to different receivers with Oswald Moobe hauling in the longest (70 yards).
The Panthers struck first in the second half on a 10-yard pass from Songer to Samek to pull within a single score with 4:07 to play in the third quarter, 34-27.
Unfortunately, it was all Jaguars from there.
Though the Panther defense limited Summit to just 181 total yards of offense in the second half, the Jaguar defensive unit made the needed halftime adjustments. Midlothian gained 53 yards in the second half with 25 coming on the ground.
Both teams finished with a pair of turnovers — all four coming via interceptions — and Summit finished with 12 penalties for 130 yards. Midlothian drew five yellow hankies for 52 yards.
The two Panther turnovers proved extremely costly. The first was returned 73 yards by Corey Washington to set up a 20-yard Chark touchdown with 9:46 to play in the fourth quarter. The scamper put Summit ahead 55-27. Chark finished as the game’s leading rushing with 11 carries for 197 yards and four touchdowns.
The second Midlothian interception came after Summit backup quarterback William Fox was intercepted deep in Jaguar territory.
Barring several upsets resulting in a catastrophic shakeup of the district standings, the loss all but eliminates the Panthers from playoff contention, as they drop to 1-4 in the standings and 2-6 on the season.
The win moved Summit to 3-2 in District 10-5A to remain tied with (5-3, 3-2) Waxahachie and one-game clear of (4-4, 2-3) Lancaster and (3-5, 2-3) Mansfield Timberview. Mansfield Lake Ridge defeated No. 8 Mansfield Legacy on Friday to take a firm hold on the top spot in the district.
The Eagles are now 7-1 on the season and a perfect 5-0 in district play, while Legacy dropped to 6-2 on the year and 4-1 in the district.
Thomas finished as the Panthers leading rusher with 99 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Songer carried the football 15 times for 82 yards and Samek added 41 yards on eight rushes.
Midlothian will host two-win Red Oak at Midlothian ISD Multipurpose Stadium on Friday, Nov. 3. The Hawks are winless in District 10-5A. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.