Midlothian has begun to build some momentum heading into District 15-4A play that begins Thursday, September 26 with a trip to Arlington to take on the Seguin.
The Panthers followed last week’s shutout win over Hillcrest with a 42-12 romp over Joshua this week.
“Our goal each week is to become a better football team,” Panther head coach Robby Clark said. “ I know I say that all the time, but it is one of our main goals. We took a big step this week - we seem to play better every week.”
The Blue Crew exhibited a balanced offensive attack against Joshua rolling up 215 yards rushing and 247 yards passing.
Caleb McEachern ran 16 times for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Bryce Petty threw touchdown strikes to Dillon Fowler, 24- and 16-yards and a 10-yard scoring toss to Caleb Russell. Petty scored on a quarterback plunge from one yard out as well.
Sophomore Eddie Johnson led the receiving corps with four catches for 82 yards, including a 38-yard reception from McEachern on a halfback pass.
“Offensively we are coming along. Eddie Johnson had a good game at receiver,” Clark stated. “ He is only a sophomore and is going to be phenomenal. He will be tough to handle when he gains confidence.”
Defensively the Panthers flew to the ball all evening, turning back the Owl offense time after time.
“We are getting consistent play from our defense. They had a very good spring with nine guys returning on that side of the ball. There are eight on that unit now, with a lot of carry over in terms of scheme. They put out a lot of effort and have a lot of energy, they fly all over the place. The defense is giving a tremendous effort and we are proud of them,” Clark explained.
Michael Autwell, a defensive team captain, agreed with his coach.
“The defense is playing real good. We are tightening up and playing together. You can tell we are getting a lot stronger. The good thing is that we will only get better. Our morale is high and there is non-stop excitement. It is a whole lot of fun to be playing football this year,” Autwell said.
The game began with Midlothian driving to the Owl 16-yard line before forced to attempt a 33-yard field goal. The attempt failed and the home town Joshua fans had something to cheer about.
The Midlothian defense shut the Owl offense down forcing three plays and a punt.
Momentum, however, took a swing to the Owls as the host team intercepted a Panther pass to set up the Owl offense at the Joshua 35.
Joshua picked up a quick first down when Jon Blair scampered 11 yards. Wiley Jones then slipped through the Panther defense for a 35-yard catch to the Midlothian 20. The Panther defense held to force a field goal attempt.
The ball sailed over the holders head and it appeared that the Panthers had turned back the threat, but a 15-yard penalty gave the Owls a first down at the 8-yard line.
Blair was stopped for a 2-yard loss by Landon Freeman and Justin Horton. Joshua tried to go to the air, but quarterback Austin Neal was pulled down by Kalen Jenkins for a sack. But, another yellow flag lay on the ground and Midlothian was penalized half the distance for a face mask violation.
Neal finally found pay dirt for the Owls on a 4-yard keeper. A bad snap on the extra point made the score 6-0 with 0:09 left in the first quarter.
The Owl defense, sky-high after the touchdown, held the Panther offense to three and out. Vince Frawley dropped back to launch a punt that was muffed by the Owls and recovered by Midlothian at the Joshua 24.
The turnover ignited the Panthers who went on to put up 42 unanswered points in the second and third quarters.
McEachern was the first Panther to score on a run off the right side for a 3-yard score.
The Midlothian defense held and the Panthers mounted a six play 68-yard drive that culminated with Dillon Fowler taking a 24-yard strike from Bryce Petty for the score.
Once again Joshua was forced to punt, this time getting off a bad one that died on the Owl 29.
It took Petty and company just two plays to cover the short field. McEachern scampered left for a 13-yard TD run.
The extra point attempt hit the right upright and bounced back onto the field with MHS up 20-6 with 2:57 to play in the first half.
It was then that Coach Clark decided to go to his bag of tricks with a successful on-side kick that caught everyone by surprise.
“On special teams we decided that if we could get up by 14 in that first half we would try the on-side kick and put up a bigger lead going into the half,” Clark explained. “With our defense playing well we thought we might be able to squeek the on-side kick in there. If not, we had condifence that our defense would hold them - even with good field position. Brad Crabtree kicked the ball for us and everything worked out.”
Facing another short field at the Owl 39, Petty handed off to McEachern for what looked to be a routine run to the right. But, Clark had gone back to the bag of tricks as McEachern stopped and hoisted a perfect spiral into the hands of receiver Eddie Johnson for a 38-yard gain to the Owl 1-yard line. Petty scored on a quarterback plunge with 1:43 still to play before intermission. The extra point brought the score to 28-6.
Midlothian scored on a 72-yard drive in the middle of the third period. Petty hit Fowler with a 16-yard pass to cap off the drive. Frawley added the point after and the rout was on.
With 3:02 left in the third period, the Panther offense took the field at its own 34.
Petty tossed a middle screen pass to Fowler, who jetted 48 yards to the Owl 18. McEachern picked up 9-yards to set up first and goal. Caleb Russell broke free and took a pass over the middle from Petty for the score. Frawley’s kick was true and the Panthers led 42-6.
Joshua was able to cross the Panther goal with 15 seconds remaining in the game for the final score.
Midlothian will face Fort Worth Brewer at MISD Multi-Purpose Stadium this week for homecoming festivities.
“Brewer is 0-3, but they are a much better team than their record indicates. They have made some mistakes - penalties and turnovers - or they would have some wins. We want to have another good night. We will try to have a consistent mode of preparation this week. We have stressed that we want to defend our home turf. We cannot have a letdown in our mental approach this week. Brewer has the personnel to be right in there in the fourth quarter and we want to be ready,” Clark said.