By BILLY WESSELS
MIDLOTHIAN – For one team, Friday night was an amazing dream. For the other, it was a nightmare.
The Waxahachie Indians and Midlothian Panthers renewed their rivalry Friday night and this time, the Panthers came out on top in a big way.
After a slow first half, the flood gates opened up and Midlothian went on to roll to a 42-7 victory against the Indians.
“The defense didn’t do bad in the first half, but they were playing with a short field the whole time,” Waxahachie football coach David Ream said. “In the second half the dam burst. It was just poor effort by everybody tonight.”
The coach took a lot of the responsibility for the loss, but he knows everybody in green and white played an equal part in the season-opening defeat.
“We thought if we didn’t play good it was going to be a long night and it was,” Ream said. “I told the kids this was a total team effort. I did a poor job of coaching and they did a poor job of playing.”
For the Panthers, the offense started between the 45-yard lines three times in the first half, but struggled before the intermission.
“Our defense played really, really well. Our offense struggled some in the first half,” Midlothian coach Lee Wiginton said. “We had some opportunities, but we didn’t play well in the first half. We put ourselves in some bad situations and the defense came up big for us in the first half.
Midlothian finally broke through on consecutive screen passes from senior quarterback Bryce Faussett to senior running back Justin Seeton. Those two plays combined for 48 yards and the second went for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Despite not breaking through for the first 22 minutes of the game, despite great field position, Wiginton said he was never worried.
“We were frustrated we couldn’t execute the way we thought we could, but we weren’t worried or scared,” Wiginton said. “There were some things that didn’t work well in the first half, but it’s a tribute to the guys and their effort the way they kept battling and their effort in coming back. Ultimately they had a chance to make the plays and they did.”
Those plays finally started to come in the second half when the Panthers started with the ball and a new look on offense. For the first time in the game, Midlothian ran the pistol formation, which gave them more flexibility to get creative with he ball.
“By design, we wanted to come out in the second in that formation and I think it jumpstarted us,” Wiginton said. “We didn’t score the first possession in the second half, but we started moving the ball with it and that first, first down was big. I think it gave us some confidence.”
Midlothian didn’t score on the first possession, but after a few zone reads, quarterback Bryce Faussett connected with junior wide receiver Brendan Cornell for a 35-yard strike after he burned a sophomore linebacker.
From that point on, Faussett took over on the ground. He called his own number 14 times from under center and ended with 85 yards rushing and two scores, from six and 11 yards out in the fourth quarter.
“For us to beat anybody on our schedule, we are going to have to play right and do what they are supposed to do and he did just that,” Wiginton said of his quarterback. “He did a brilliant job of taking what was given to him in big situations.”
With Midlothian up 28-0, senior cornerback JJ Johnson put the game away with a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown. Another turnover gave the ball right back to Midlothian and allowed AJ Tulley to score from a yard out.
“The second half was about turnovers. We turned it over, but they turned it over a few more times,” Wiginton said. “That’s going to happen at the beginning of the year. But this was just our night and we were a little more fortunate than they were.”
Ream gave all of the credit for the win to the Panthers.
“Midlothian had a great effort and played really well so we can’t take anything away from them,” Ream said. “We have to get back and get our nose to the grindstone.”
When the team got back to work at practice Saturday, they had to focus on the penalties. The Indians committed eight infractions for 57 yard and those mistakes put them in a hole early and often.
“We gained 17 yards on that first possession, but because of that chopping penalty, we had to get 20,” Ream said. “If that doesn’t stop the momentum, maybe we can get things going and things turn out differently. We’re just not good enough to overcome mistakes like that right now.”
Treyvon Hughes was the brightest spot for the Indian offense as he gained 104 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively, Lorenzo Jordan Lacey and Andre Green pulled down interceptions.
Opening the year with a loss is something that the Indians have grown accustomed to in recent years. As they haven’t won an opener since 2009. Each of the last three seasons, that first loss was to a 5A team.
“The last several years we hadn’t won an opener. Last year we lost to Marcus and came back and won eight in a row,” Ream said. “There’s no reason they can’t do that again this year. They’ve just got to pick their heads up and get after it.”
Waxahachie (0-1) has a week off this week and will get back on the field for a game at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at home versus West Mesquite.
Midlothian (1-0) will visit Keller Timber Creek at 7:30 p.m. Friday.