Proving they belong: WHS rallies to beat Midway on field goal
The Waxahachie Indians already had a playoff berth in hand and were playing out the regular-season string. But there was just one more thing the Indians were still seeking that they felt they needed: Validation.
Thanks to a gigantic night from the tandem of Brandon Hawkins Jr. and Shawn Cherry and the right foot of Clyde Melick, the Indians convinced any doubters Friday night that they belong in the postseason.
With the clock ticking after Jh’Marques Head made a game-saving interception, the Indians moved almost the length of the field, and Melick’s 40-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired, giving the Tribe a thrilling 31-28 District 11-6A victory over Waco Midway at Lumpkins Stadium.
Hawkins finished with 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, added a passing TD to Joseph Lankford, and improved to 3-0 as a starting quarterback. Cherry had 18 rushes for 191 yards as the Indians (4-4, 3-2) totaled 411 yards on the ground.
The game was like a Waxahachie sandwich with Midway as the meat in the middle. The Indians jumped out to a 13-0 lead, only to see the Panthers score 28 straight points before the Tribe ended the game with 18 unanswered.
After Midway scored with 11:42 left in the fourth quarter to make it 28-13, WHS zipped downfield 78 yards on only four plays, getting a boost from a 15-yard penalty. Hawkins rushed for a 29-yard touchdown, and Melick’s PAT pulled the Tribe to within one possession.
The Panthers picked up one first down but were forced to punt, and WHS got the ball at its own 6-yard line. On the first play, Cherry broke an 88-yard run to the opposite 6, and two plays later Hawkins scored from there. Hawkins kept for the 2-point conversion, and with 5:19 to go, it was a brand-new ballgame at 28-all.
Midway (1-5, 1-4) had a chance to break the tie and drove all the way to the Indians’ 17, but a Garrett Childers third-down pass was intercepted by Head at the 15, giving the Indians one last shot to win it in regulation with 1:45 left.
Hawkins ran for three first downs as the Tribe quickly crossed midfield and got to the Midway 23 with three seconds left, bringing on Melick. Midway called two time outs to try to ice Melick, but his 40-yarder cleared the uprights with plenty of room to spare, touching off a celebration.
Had District 11-6A played a full schedule to determine playoff teams, this was the game that would have likely determined the fourth and final berth with state-ranked Duncanville, Cedar Hill and DeSoto holding down the top three.
After a scoreless first quarter, a fumble on a punt return set the Indians up at the Midway 35, and five plays later Hawkins’ 9-yard pass to Lankford put WHS on the board, but a 2-point conversion try failed.
Moments later, Preston Hodge’s interception at the goal line set up the next scoring drive, which covered 84 yards. Cherry reeled off a 30-yard run but was hauled down at the 1, and Hawkins took it in from there to bump the lead to 13-0 at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter.
The Panthers, though, broke two big plays — an 83-yard keeper by Childers, and an 82-yard pass from Childers to Zach Stewart — to take a 14-13 edge into halftime.
Midway scored on the opening possession of the second half and then used a 51-yard interception return by Samuel Odedeji to set up a 9-yard run by Dominique Hill, making it 28-13 and setting up the Tribe’s frantic — and successful —comeback.
Rolondo Sierra added an interception and Jaden Basham and Jace Robinson recovered fumbles for WHS.
The Indians will host Waco High on Friday at Lumpkins Stadium, then will close out the regular season on Friday, Dec. 4 at Lumpkins against Class 6A No. 2-ranked Duncanville.
The Indians will travel to the No. 1 District 12-6A seed the weekend of Dec. 11 for the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.