James Fullbright ran for 216 yards and four touchdowns as the seventh-ranked Midway Panthers took control of the 8-6A district race with a 53-32 win over Belton on homecoming night at Panther Stadium Friday night.
The Panthers moved to 8-0 on the season, handing Belton its first district loss.
Midway ran for 422 yards and piled up well over 600 yards in total offense, building a 20-10 halftime lead before scoring on their first three possessions of the third quarter.
“Well, it wasn’t exciting as last year,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said afterward. “And that’s okay by me,” he added, referring to last year’s 49-42 overtime victory at Belton. “I thought our offensive line did a good job of opening holes all night.”
Midway’s defense sacked Belton quarterback Connor Carothers six times and forced two turnovers, doing enough to keep the Tigers just off the comeback trail after halftime.
Midway led 26-12 on Fullbright’s third TD of the game on the opening drive of the third quarter. But the Panthers' PAT was blocked and returned for a safety to make it 26-12.
Xavier Abalos intercepted Carothers in the end zone to end Belton’s next drive, and Mordecai answered with a 44-yard touchdown run to make it 32-12.
Belton would score three more touchdowns in the game, each matched by a Midway score. The Tigers pulled to within two scores at 32-19 and 39-26, but could never get any closer.
Mordecai added touchdown runs of 35 and 52 yards, and Fullbright capped the scoring with a game-clinching four-yard scoring run at the 5:37 mark of the fourth quarter.
Carothers threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Brown, and Darren Rector had a 15-yard scoring run in the third quarter to keep the Tigers close.
Carothers finished with 311 yards passing and two touchdowns in a gritty performance for Belton. He was sacked three times in the second half — twice by Jaxon Player.
Mordecai finished with 199 yards on 17-of-28 passing. He also threw two interceptions.
Belton took the opening kick and drove 75 yards in 10 plays. Carothers found Anthony Fairbanks on a five-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 7-0.
Midways answered on its first possession. Mordecai hit C.J. Williams on a short pass, and the receiver turned it into a 50-yard gain to the Belton 5-yard line. Two plays later, Fullbright scored his first touchdown of the night, tying the game at 7-7 at the 6:26 mark of the first quarter.
The Tigers took a 10-7 lead on a 44-yard field goal by Nyle Tabat on the second play of the second quarter. Carothers set up the score with a 50-yard catch and run to Anthony Brown.
Midway retook the lead on the ensuing possession. Fullbright scored from 20 yards out to make it 14-10 Midway.
Mordecai threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to D’Ante Thomas at the 8:09 mark of the second quarter to put Midway up 20-10, following a botched PAT.
Fullbright set up the score with a 44-yard burst straight up the middle. He had 160 yards on 16 carries in the first half.