Panthers clinch a return to playoffs

MHS amasses 425 rushing yards, runs roughshod over Mansfield Legacy

Mirror report
Midlothian quarterback Chad Ragle prepares to pitch the ball to running back De'ago Benson (7) during a recent home game. The Panthers clinched a playoff berth with a 42-20 victory over Mansfield Legacy on Friday night.

The Midlothian Panthers used a strong rushing attack to claim a rightful return to the Class 5A Division I playoffs on Friday night.

De'ago Benson rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown on only 15 carries, and Jordon Richburg added 119 yards and a score to lead the Panthers to a 42-20 victory over Mansfield Legacy at Don Floyd Field at MISD Multipurpose Stadium.

The win clinched a postseason berth for the Panthers (5-3, 4-1), who were denied a playoff appearance in 2020 because of a district executive committee ruling that winning percentage would determine seedings.

Seth Ward returned an interception 75 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to get Legacy within 35-20 with 8:04 left, but Richburg’s 2-yard score put the game away four minutes later.

The rushing attack from coach Doug Wendel's Wing-T offense flexed its muscles down the stretch, controlling the clock and possessing the ball for a large majority of the second half. The Panthers had 430 yards of total offense, all but five of which came on the ground.

Quarterback Chad Ragle finished the night with 42 rushing yards and a pair of scores and Kaden Smith added 35 rushing yards and a TD. On the other side of the ball, Tylor Knighton recorded his second defensive TD of the season on a fumble recovery in the end zone that gave MHS the lead to stay.

It was Smith who opened the scoring on a 12-yard run to cap MHS’ first possession after the Broncos were held three-and-out. Legacy tied the game late in the first quarter on a Connor Parlin 59-yard deep ball to Ky’Irin Heath.

But on Legacy’s next possession, Parlin fumbled as he was hit in the backfield and Knighton pounced on the loose ball to make it 14-7 on the first play of the second quarter. After another Legacy punt, a 54-yard run by Richburg set up Ragle’s 2-yard keeper for a 20-7 lead with 5:46 left in the first half.

There was still time for two more touchdowns before intermission. Parlin connected with Isaiah Williams on a 29-yard pass immediately following an MHS fumble to cut the margin to six points, but the Panthers struck quickly twice in reply. Benson broke a 45-yarder for his TD to make it a 28-14 edge at the break.

The Panthers opened up even more daylight to start the third quarter as they went 52 yards for the score. Ragle closed out the drive with a 9-yard run.

Parlin had 152 yards passing and two touchdown throws for Legacy (1-7, 1-4).

The Panthers have a tough but motivating assignment this Friday night as they travel to Vernon Newsom Stadium to take on Mansfield Summit, the team that got the fourth-place district nod over MHS a year ago — and advanced all the way to the Class 5A Division I state semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Panthers will close out the regular season next week with a Thursday night contest at MISD Multipurpose Stadium against Richland. The team’s seniors will be recognized before the game.