MESQUITE, Texas - The best team does not always win the game. Ask the Midlothian Panther football team and they can tell you.
Turnovers and penalties proved costly and became the Panther downfall as Midlothian (0-1) took a last second 18-14 loss at the hands of Mesquite Poteet (1-0).
In the season opener for both teams, Midlothian was in control until the final four minutes of the contest.
“I felt our O-line was dominate, but six procedure penalties killed our drives,” head coach Robby Clark said. “But those are little things that are very fixable. These kids are coachable. We will get those mistakes corrected. We need to go out and eliminate those very small things so that we can become a very good football team.”
Poteet scored early when Andrew Maddox, in his first start as the varsity quarterback, broke free for a 79-yard run right up the middle.
The extra point was blocked as the Poteet Pirates took the 6-0 lead with 9:45 left in the opening period.
Except for the long run by Maddox to open the game and a late fourth quarter pass play Midlothian did not surrender the big plays.
Midlothian responded with a very nice 10-play drive of 97 yards to score.
Caleb McEachern ran twice for no gain, but on 3rd-and-10 he shook off a couple of would be tacklers and raced for 43 yards to the Midlothian 46 and a first down.
McEachern then took a pitch around the left side for 14 yards. Working hard, McEachern carried for seven yards up the middle. Petty went to the air and dumped a flair pass to McEachern for a quick gain of three yards. Another run followed by a pass to Vince Frawley set the Panthers up with a first down at the Poteet 18.
Running right on the option, Petty raced into the end zone for the first Panther score of the young season.
Vince Frawley added the point after for a 7-6 Panther lead.
The Panther defense completely shut down the Pirates in the next series of plays.
After the Pirates punted the ball Midlothian began at the Panther 34, but quickly slid backwards as Kensley Sewell broke through the Panther line to sack Petty back at the 22. McEachern was then dropped for a loss at the nine to set up 3rd-and-35.
In pass formation Petty could not find an open receiver and was forced to take another Sewell sack at the Panther three.
The Panthers set up for the punt out of the end zone, but an errant snap ended up in the arms of McEachern who alertly got the ball out of the end zone to the three, where the Pirate offense took control of the ball.
It took only one play for Maddox to cross the goal line to bring the score to 12-7 with 45 seconds to play in the first quarter. The run for two failed when Matt Jacob was stopped by a whole host of Panther defenders at the line for no gain.
The Panthers then drove quickly down the field but were turned away with a missed 31-yard field goal opportunity.
On its next possession, Midlothian literally wasted no time with a four-play 79 yard drive. Caleb Russell ran for nine yards followed by McEachern picking up six. Petty found Dillon Fowler for a huge pass play that netted the Pirate 11-yard line. Bouncing off would be tacklers, McEachern bounded into the end zone for the score. The PAT was true and Midlothian secured a 14-12 lead that would last until the final four seconds of the game.
After a scoreless third period the Panther first drive of the final stanza was aborted with a lost fumble.
The Panther defense shut down the Pirate offense once again to force a punt.
With 7:01 remaining in the game Midlothian began a drive from the Panther 18. Midlothian smartly down the field with runs of 3-, 15-, 12- and 1-yards by McEachern. Petty interspersed an18-yard strike to Eddie Johnson to put the Panthers at the Pirate 35 with 4:40 to play.
Then the wheels fell off. An errant pitch fell to the turf and Sewell claimed the ball for the Pirate offense.
Poteet used the clock wisely to grind out 53 yards, mostly on the ground. The big play of the drive was it appeared that the drive was stopped at the 34 with a fourth-and-5. With 1:53 on the clock Poteet called time out. When the Pirates returned to action Maddox took the snap and sprinted right on the option play. The speedster was able to turn the corner and was finally brought down by Ross Knight, but not before gaining 28 yards and a new set of downs at the six.
Three plays later the Pirates faced fourth-and-goal just inches from the goal line. With four seconds to play Poteet sent Jason Fowler and his field goal unit into the game for the chipshot field goal.
Midlothian responded by calling three consecutive time outs in order to ice the kicker.
After the final time out, Poteet elected to send in the regular offense for the touchdown try.
Maddox ran the quarterback sneak to gain just enough to cross the chalkmark for the win.
Midlothian will regroup this week and prepare for a home game Friday night against Dallas Hillcrest. Game time is 7:30 p.m.