Panthers hold off Brewer in bi-district
MHS advances to area round for only fifth time in school history, will face Lubbock Coronado
WHITE SETTLEMENT — For a team that relies heavily on the triple-option run attack, the Midlothian Panthers unleashed their secret weapon on Friday night — not once, but twice.
Moments after throwing a touchdown pass to Xavionte Jackson for the lead, quarterback Chad Ragle found Bryant Wesco for a 4-yard touchdown with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers held on for a 21-17 victory over Fort Worth Brewer in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs at Brewer Stadium.
The Panthers (7-4) atoned for their 23-20 season-opening loss at Brewer.
“To be down twice in the fourth quarter and to come back to win is another signature ‘Brick’ to lay on the foundation of our program,” MHS head coach Doug Wendel said. “Our defense played fantastic, special teams was by far the best game they have played, and offense did just enough versus a very good defense. But, more than that the Panthers made a conscious choice to fight, display grit, and decide how bad we wanted it.”
The Panthers advance to the area round for only the fifth time in school history, and will face Lubbock Coronado on Friday at 7 p.m. at Abilene Wylie’s Hugh Sandifer Stadium. MHS will be the home team. Coronado (also 7-4) routed El Paso Bel Air last Thursday, 67-7.
Ragle finished with only 62 passing yards. Jordan Richburg rushed for 122 yards for the Panthers, and De’ago Benson added 48 yards and a TD on the ground.
Benson scored from 12 yards out to put MHS on 7-0 early in the first quarter on the way to a halftime score of 7-3. After a scoreless third quarter, the pace picked up considerably in the fourth.
With 10:20 remaining, Bears quarterback Jaylen Spriggs completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Keiran Patrick-Daniels for the first Brewer lead of the night. But less than a minute later, the Panthers took the lead back on Ragle’s 58-yard pass play to Jackson.
Spriggs hit Daniels on a 66-yard pass play at the 8:08 mark to give Brewer the upper hand, 17-14. But Richburg’s 54-yard romp to the Brewer 4-yard line led to Ragle’s toss to Wesco on third-and-goal, and with just over six minutes to go, MHS led again.
There was still lots of time remaining, and the Bears moved across midfield to the Panthers’ 37. But Spriggs threw two incomplete passes, and the Panthers got the ball on downs with 2:40 to go. MHS converted a fourth-and-1 as Ragle kept for 5 yards, and his next play was a kneel-down as the Panthers ran out the clock.
Brewer (8-3) was led by Montrail Cushionberry, who rushed for 108 yards. Spriggs threw for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Patrick-Daniels for 91 yards total.
The first TD of the night came as the Panthers gained field position on a 46-yard Jackson punt to start the game. Taking over at the Brewer 47 after forcing a three-and-out, Benson capped a short 6-play drive to put MHS on top, 7-0.
The Bears mounted an answer and overcame a holding penalty to get as close as the MHS 8, but three false starts backed them up and Brewer had to settle for Alex Andrade’s 35-yard field goal with three seconds left in the opening quarter. The score remained 7-3 into the fourth.