Panthers denied by Summit on road
MHS big plays forge 14-all halftime tie, but Jaguars pull away for win at Vernon Newsom
MANSFIELD — With a playoff berth safely under their belts, the Midlothian Panthers were trying for something more on Friday night at Vernon Newsom Stadium: Improvement on the seeding ladder as well as a sense of justice for what happened a year ago.
Last season, Mansfield Summit did not face either Colleyville Heritage or Burleson Centennial, the top two finishers in District 4-5A (Division I), because of COVID-19 precautions. Midlothian did play both teams and took losses against each, and also dominated Summit head-to-head at MISD Multipurpose Stadium, 49-30
But Summit took advantage of a district executive committee ruling that no forfeits would be awarded in district games and that winning percentage would decide playoff representatives.
The Panthers sat home and watched as Summit advanced all the way to the Class 5A Region I state semifinals in the postseason spot that they viewed as rightfully theirs.
Fast-forward to Friday, and the host Jaguars were able to justify their playoff worthiness in the near term at least.
Following a 14-all halftime tie, Summit pulled away in the second half for a 42-21 decision, clinching the No. 2 playoff seed and leaving MHS (5-4, 4-2) needing a Thursday night win against Richland at MISD Multipurpose Stadium to lock up No. 3.
Junior running back De’ago Benson led the way for the Panthers with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Classmate Chad Ragle threw for a TD to Xavionte Jackson and added 50 rushing yards.
But the Panthers suffered three turnovers and were outgained in total yardage, 454 to 299. The running game was strong for Summit, which was led by Keon Hobbs with 111 yards and two scores.
A fumbled punt return late in a scoreless first quarter led to a 7-0 Summit lead as quarterback David Hopkins threw a short toss to Kerya Powell. After MHS turned the ball over on downs, a 49-yard pass from Hopkins to Powell led to Corey Jakson Jr.’s 15-yard run and it was 14-0.
The Panthers, though, manned up and rallied to even the score with two huge plays. First, Benson broke a 53-yard run at the 3:23 mark, then Ragle found Jackson for a 58-yard score with just 21 ticks left to give the Panther faithful hope with a halftime deadlock.
Summit, however, took the second-half kickoff and regained the lead for good with a 77-yard drive, capped by a 23-yard Hobbs run. Hobbs added a 10-yard rush early in the fourth quarter for a 14-point lead,
Hopkins’ 28-yard keeper with 9:19 left opened up a three-touchdown margin and essentially put the game on ice. Benson’s second TD run with 4:56 left made it 35-21, but the ensuing onside kick was saved and the Panthers drew a 10-yard penalty in the process. The Jags scored their final TD with 3:07 left.
Thursday night’s home game against the Royals will be broadcast live across the Metroplex on KDAF television. It will also be Senior Night for the Panthers.