MHS takes down Richland; bi-district playoffs are next

Panthers will travel to Fort Worth Brewer on Friday night in rematch of season-opener

Mirror report
Midlothian senior running back Kaden Smith (23) stiff-arms a would-be Forney tackler during a Week 2 non-district game at MISD Multipurpose Stadium. The Panthers will travel to Fort Worth Brewer on Friday for a first-round playoff game.

Thursday night football at Don Floyd Field at MISD Multipurpose Stadium started about as disastrously for the Midlothian Panthers as it could have.

Fortunately for the Panthers, that was just about the limit of Richland’s damage as they buckled down defensively to claim a 21-10 victory over the Royals in their final District 4-5A (I) game of the season.

The Panthers (6-4, 5-2) will be the No. 3 seed in the Class 5A Division I playoffs and will travel to Fort Worth Brewer on Friday night for a rematch of the season-opener. Richland (6-4, 3-4) ended its season after losing a head-to-head tiebreaker with Burleson Centennial for fourth place.

The ground game was effective for MHS once again as the Panthers played keep-away from the Royals. Kaden Smith finished with 115 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries, and De’ago Benson added 82 yards and a score. Quarterback Chad Ragle passed for a touchdown to Bryant Wesco and added 73 rushing yards.

Defensively, the Panthers held Richland to only nine first downs and 179 total yards. Xavionte Jackson finished with two interceptions, both in the first half.

After Richland’s C.J. Nelson returned the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown, the Panthers answered to tie the game on Smith’s 3-yard run, converting a fourth-and-goal and closing out a 65-yard, 11-play drive, all on the ground.

Jackson’s second interception of the game set up the go-ahead score midway through the second quarter. This time, Ragle passed to Wesco from 10 yards out to put MHS up 14-7 at 5:47 of the second quarter, which held up at halftime.

MHS got the second-half kickoff and went 72 yards, melting more than seven minutes off the clock. Benson capped the drive off with a 2-yard plunge with 4:34 left in the third quarter and it was 21-7.

The Royals were knocking on the door late in the third with the ball on the 1-yard line after a 35-yard pass completion from Nelson to Mark Zamora, but Nelson was sacked on third down for a loss of 13 and Richland had to settle for Russell Skipper’s field goal.

That would be the final scoring of the night. The next two MHS possessions ended in an interception and a fumble, but the Panther defense held tough the rest of the way.

Friday night’s game at Brewer will kick off at 7 p.m. The Panthers lost a close battle with the Bears (8-2) in Week 1, 23-20, after a last-minute drive for the winning score was stopped on downs at the Brewer 6-yard line.

The Bears (8-2) finished in a three-way tie for the District 3-4A championship with Justin Northwest and Azle but earned the No. 2 seed.

The winner will advance to face either El Paso Bel Air or Lubbock Coronado in the area round next week.