When a team holds an opponent to 157 total yards and more than doubles that output, especially at home, that team should expect to win.
But that wasn’t the case last Friday night. In a seesaw battle right down to the end, Burleson Centennial’s Josh Garcia kicked a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the game, and the Spartans escaped MISD Multipurpose Stadium with a 23-21 win, handing the mistake-prone Midlothian Panthers their first loss of the season.
The loss dropped the Panthers to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in District 5-5A (II) play, but more importantly, it handed Centennial (also 4-1, 2-1) a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. Both teams are tied for fourth place in the district standings with five games to go.
Tilting the game in favor of the Spartans were two costly MHS fumbles that were scooped and scored by Centennial’s defense. First, Centennial’s Chase Phillips returned a fumble 79 yards with just nine seconds to play in the first half, flipping the momentum going into the dressing room. Then midway through the third quarter, with the Panthers pinned deep at their own 10-yard line, Matiroyn Easley returned a fumble to give the Spartans a 20-14 edge.
The extra point try was no good, which appeared to loom large in the fourth quarter. J.T. Cavender, who finished with a pair of touchdown runs and 38 yards, punched in his second score of the game with 5:36 left to put the Panthers on top by a point, 22-21.
The Panthers only committed two penalties for 25 yards, but none was more crucial than a 15-yard infraction in the waning moments that brought Centennial within field goal range.
With a chance to run out the clock by moving the sticks, the Panthers came up a yard short on third down and elected to punt. A 26-yard return gave Centennial the ball at the Panther 39. An eight-yard completion was followed by a 15-yard penalty, placing the ball at the 16. After an incomplete pass, Garcia kicked it through the uprights to atone for his earlier missed PAT and give Centennial the win.
The going was tough all night for the collection of MHS running backs, as Riley Angel led the way with 54 yards. Angel caught a pass for 19 yards and even completed a 38-yard pass to quarterback Tate Corbin.
Cavender’s first scoring run late in the first quarter capped a 71-yard, 10 play drive to put the Panthers on top. Then after a missed field goal ended another promising drive, Corbin called his own number on an 8-yard keeper with 1:11 to go in the first half giving Midlothian a 14-0 lead.
The Panthers immediately got the ball back on a muffed kickoff return. But on a short pass at the Centennial 21, the ball was knocked loose and Centennial’s Phillips ran it back to put the Spartans on the scoreboard.
Next up for Midlothian is a tough assignment as the Panthers travel to Aledo to face the Bearcats, the state’s No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A Division II according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Bearcat Stadium.