For the second straight year, Midlothian took care of business against its cross-county rivals.
The Panthers used the same approach that led them to a 5A playoff game for the first time in its history as they used a heavy ground attack to dominate Waxahachie.
Midlothian had a pair of rushers gain more than 100 yards on the way to the 49-14 win against the Indians.
“Any time you run the ball well, you’ve got to thank your line and I thought our blocking was decent. “Our guys spend a lot more time blocking in practice than they do catching,” Midlothian head football coach Lee Wiginton said. “I’m glad the team experienced success because the team really, really worked hard for this.”
Victor Williams ran 10 times for 147 yards and a touchdown while Najee Mustafaa ran six times for 107 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way.
“They didn’t give us anything. We had to work hard and our receivers did a good job of blocking down field. We’ve got to thank those guys for giving us a chance,” Mustafaa said. “I was just hungry after each touchdown. I just couldn’t wait to get back on the field to try and get another one.”
Waxahachie head coach David Ream gave all the credit for the game to Midlothian.
“We got beat by a better football team tonight. They were more physical than us and stronger than us,” Ream said. We just had to execute a little better. We had a couple big plays, but we couldn’t sustain drives early in the game. We just have to challenge our guys to come back and show some character.”
Waxahachie had a 13-yard drive and a pair of eight-play drives in the first half, but none of them resulted in any points. Just as the Tribe started to get some momentum, Wiginton called a time out and that slowed down the Indians.
And once the drive stalled and the Panthers got their hands on the ball, Mustafaa took it straight to the end zone. He had touchdown runs of 43, 18 and four yards to start the game.
Midlothian led 21-0 at the half and Williams had 88 yards rushing at the break while Waxahachie had just 83 total yards of offense.
The second half started like it was going to be a different story for Waxahachie as it forced a three-and-out on Midlothian’s first possession. But the Indians’ couldn’t convert on a fourth down at the Panther 34-yard line. On the very next play, Midlothian fumbled it and Timothy Crownover recovered to give the Indians the ball back. But a stop on fourth down at the Midlothian 27 ended that drive.
Just three plays later, Mustafaa broke off a 28-yard run then Midlothian quarterback Jimmy Fouse hit Zach Humphreys on a 27-yard pass to make the score 28-0. It was a short pass, but Humphreys took off on the sideline after he was sprung by a big block from Keion Sutton.
“We have a lot of those kids that are athletic like Humphreys, and he’s one of those guy that’s good with the ball in his hands,” Wiginton said. “That’s a challenge of offensive football is finding out who can make plays and be smart with the football.”
The next time Midlothian touched the ball, Williams took it 34 yards for a touchdown after yet another fourth down stop. That made the score 35-0 going into the fourth quarter.
“Everybody was really excited for this game this week. People were really hyped up in practice,” Williams said. “It’s a rivalry that’s been going on for years and we wanted that win at the end of the night and we came out and earned it.”
Waxahachie finally got on the board with a big play of its own on a 43-yard run by Isaiah Parrish.
“There were some bright spots, but all in all, we weren’t good enough to play against the big boys tonight,” Ream said. “We’re going to see some big boys this year so we have to get better and come up with something we can get better at doing.”
While that was a great play for the Tribe, Midlothian’s next rush was a real crowd ignitor. Senior fullback Tristian Oliphant rushed up the middle for a 19-yard gain and got hit. His helmet flew off, but he didn’t stop motoring and picked up about 15 more yards. Unfortunately for him, the play is dead once his helmet flew off and he had to leave the field for a play.
“To be honest, that play was really disappointing because the play is dead there and he has to come off the field,” Wiginton said. “We’ve got to find a way for helmets to stay on and we can’t have that happen. We can’t have cramps, we can’t get tired, we can’t have helmets pop off, we can’t have stuff like that happen that makes us lose guys at key times.”
Oliphant’s great effort led to a two-yard touchdown run for Dylan Clary to make it 42-7.
Waxahachie got its biggest pass play of the night to set up its second touchdown. Avery Jackson rolled out and threw up a bomb that was caught by Elijah Brown for 40 yards on a third-and-10 play.
Jackson got the start at quarterback, and played most of the game due to Max McCulloch’s ankle injury he suffered in a scrimmage.
“He’s still limping around a little bit. These two weeks before our next game will help him,” Ream said about McCulloch. “I thought Avery did a good job. He made a few mistakes, but not more than anybody else in the first ball game.”
Jackson finished with seven completions on 15 passes for 92 yards. McCulloch actually did appear in the Indians’ third possession and completed one of his three pass attempts, a 15-yard connection with Quinn Sargent.
“I wanted him to get his feet wet. We didn’t want to run him any, but he did scramble that one time,” Ream said. “We didn’t want to put him out there to be a target and try to get the ball out of his hands as quick as we could and he did a good job. I just wanted him to get the feel of a big time game before we need him.”
Following that long pass, Trevon Smith found the end zone on an eight-yard run. The sophomore finished the night with 20 carries for 107 yards in his first varsity start.
“We really got physically whipped up front and we didn’t make any holes for him,” Ream said. “He had to break some tackles and did a good job. It wasn’t a good night for us.”
After that score, the Panthers rattled off one more long drive, which was capped off by a eight-yard run by Mason Quinn.
If there was a defensive bright spot for Waxahachie, it was a handful of plays by the defensive line. The unit was anchored by Lee Wheaton, Randon Haynes and Crownover.
“They showed signs that they could do it. We just have to get it on a consistent level and prove we can do it,” Ream said. “Lee did a good job and so did our other defensive line guys, they just have to prove they can be consistent. We didn’t get good linebacker play, it’s tough for them to play against their bigger guys.”
While Waxahachie’s defense had a few bright spots, Midlothian’s defense, anchored by the play of Drew McBeth, Aaron Schroeder and Roman Brown, was strong most of the night.
“I see our guys flying around, swarming to the ball and playing good team defense,” Wiginton said. “Any time you’re doing that, it’s exciting. The guys really care about each other and they go out there and really take pride in playing for the community.”
While it’s great to win the first game, especially against a rival, Wiginton knows it’s just the first step in his journey this year.
“Whoever you have as the first team on the schedule, it’s a big game you want to win,” Wiginton said. “The reality is it’s a non-district game and both teams want to come out and try to get better and make sure they are healthy for when you need them. Both us and Waxahachie are in similar positions, we are just going to be a little happier tonight than they are.”
Midlothian (1-0) takes the field again Friday at home versus Keller Timber Creek (0-1). District play begins for the Panthers on Sept. 20 at Duncanville (1-0).
Despite the loss, Ream still likes his team’s chances this year and he knows they lost to a very strong opponent.
“You can’t take anything away from them. They did a good job. They are a great football team and well-coached,” Ream said. “We’re going to learn some things from this and take our two weeks to solidify this and move on. I still feel good about our football team.”
Waxahachie (0-1) has next week off, but will visit West Mesquite (0-1) Sept. 13. District play begins for the Indians on Sept. 27 at Mansfield Summit.