DALLAS — A little trickery and a lot of Landon Ledbetter moved still-undefeated Midlothian Heritage into round three of the Texas high school football playoffs.
Ledbetter completed 27-of-his-38 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns in the 51-20 win over Crandall at Kincade Stadium on the Jesse Owens Athletic Complex in Dallas on Friday afternoon. The junior signal caller also added an 18-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter of the 4A Division I Area Championship.
“It was a great game," said Heritage head football coach Lee Wiginton. " It was a great time to be playing on Thanksgiving and to play this well and beat a great team. This win makes it all that much better. It was a great to spend time with family and friends playing this great game.”
The victory marked the second win for No. 6 (12-0) Midlothian Heritage over (7-5) Crandall this season. The Jaguars won 40-21 at home in week four, outscoring the Pirates 34-14 over the final three quarters. Ledbetter tossed three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in that win.
“They were a really good team earlier in the year. We knew that," said Wiginton of the first meeting. "The guys that played them before knew they were a great team and knew it was going to be just as tough a game again.”
As a team, the Jaguars outgained the Pirates 520 yards to 295 on the day after Thanksgiving. Three-hundred-twenty of those yards came through the air. A Ledbetter interception proved to be the lone turnover for either team in the ballgame.
“Offensively, we are playing great football," Wiginton said. "It is fun to see how hard these guys work every day and to see them step out on the field and see good things happen for them. What’s fun for me is knowing the people get to come out here and see the same product these guys put out on the field that we get to see every day. I’m very proud of these kids and the product the put out on the field this week.”
The Jaguar defense forced a three-and-out on the Pirates' opening drive.
Kerrion Fields quickly capped the first Heritage offensive series with a three-yard touchdown catch from Ledbetter. The score came on the fifth play from scrimmage with 9:07 to play in the first quarter.
Field then got in on the air raid when he took a jet sweep and fired a strike to a streaking Jay Wilkerson (7-122) for a 31-yard touchdown pass. The score capped a 9-play, 78-yard drive with under two minutes to go in the first quarter.
After the Jaguar defense forced the Pirate offense into a turnover on downs by stuffing a run on 4th-and-1, Ledbetter scampered into the end zone three plays later. His 18-yard touchdown run put Heritage up 20-0 with 10:35 to play in the first half.
Crandall managed its only score of the first half on the ensuing drive when Josh Redding (11-20, 168 yards) completed a 78-yard touchdown pass to Billy Myers (3-95).
Heritage answered right back when Christian Elliot (13-51) scored from one-yard out to put an exclamation point on a 7-play, 59-yard drive. The touchdown run proved to be all the scoring the Jaguars needed, as it pushed Heritage ahead 27-7 with 7:52 on the second-quarter clock.
But the Heritage offense was not quite finished.
Dre Washington — who finished the game with 121 total yards on nine touches — then caught a 22-yard Ledbetter pass with under 10 seconds to play in the first half for a 34-7 Jaguar lead.
In the second half, Crandall found the end zone twice in the third quarter on a 30-yard Tyson Gatewood (18-110) run and a 33-yard pass from Redding to Hayden Pruitt (3-51).
The Jaguar offense continued to roll, though.
Ledbetter connected with Wilkerson and Fields for passing touchdowns of 11 and 5 yards, respectively. Matt Stanton also added a 32-yard field goal to cap the scoring with 5:30 to play and Heritage leading 51-20.
Wilkerson finished as the game's leading receiver with 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven receptions. Langston Anderson added eight grabs for 76 yards. Ledbetter also completed passes to Fields (7-57, 2 TD), Washington (3-52), Noah Waxler (2-15), and Raja Banks (1-0).
Washington led all Jaguar ball carriers with six carries for 69 yards, while Ledbetter added 58 yards on 12 carries and Elliot ran 13 times for 51 yards. Anderson rushed twice for 28 yards and Fields added 15 yards on three carries.
Heritage will face (11-1) No. 7 Kennedale in the 4A Region I regional quarterfinal next Friday, Dec. 1 at The Star in Frisco. Kennedale defeated Van 42-28 at The Star on Friday afternoon. The lone loss for the Wildcats this season came in week five to No. 2 West Orange-Stark 23-20.
Wiginton said "it's going to be tough" but noted the Jaguars are excited and humbled to still be playing this far into the postseason.
"For us right now, we want to enjoy this one. This was a great Thanksgiving victory today that we are very excited about. We want to enjoy it and then get focused on next week.”
*Additional reporting by Mike Sackett/Mirror
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith