KILLEEN — It was all Midway Thursday night at Leo Buckley Stadium. Even when it wasn’t. The Kangaroos won the turnover battle, but the Panthers won the war as Midway toppled Killeen 42-10.
“It just goes to show you that, if you take those turnovers away, the score would have been really ridiculous,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “But that’s high school football. The team on the other side is practicing hard and trying hard, too.”
Hulme was a little concerned toward the beginning of the week. With the rivalry contest against Belton looming on Oct. 20, he wasn’t sure if his players would overlook the Kangaroos or not. After Thursday’s win, there was no doubt their focus had been on Killeen all week.
“I thought we had a great week of preparation,” Hulme said. “They weren’t looking ahead which is always scary when you’re dealing with high school young men. But they focused on Killeen. It showed tonight. I’m pleased with the outcome. I think our guys’ toughness is starting to show a little bit which is always good.”
It took the Panthers only 49 seconds to score their first touchdown. After James Fullbright got things going on the ground, Tanner Mordecai hit C.J. Williams over the top of the defense for a 49-yard score.
Over the next six-and-a-half minutes, the Panthers had the ball for only two plays. Both of which ended with interceptions by Mordecai who had a total of three entering Thursday’s contest. The first bounced off a Midway receiver, then the hands of a Killeen defender, then the head of another Killeen defender before a third Kangaroo dove to retrieve the ball before it hit the ground. The second one went straight into the hands of a defender who cut off the Midway receiver’s route.
Despite those two turnovers, the Panther defense held Killeen scoreless. The Kangaroos came as far as the Midway 18-yard line. The Panthers stuffed Marcellus Johnson’s run attempt for no gain which forced Killeen to kick a field goal which the Kangaroos missed.
After throwing a pair of interceptions, Mordecai answered with a 66-yard touchdown pass to D’Ante Thomas. That scoring drive took all of 22 seconds and was all of three plays.
“I liked our offense,” Hulme said. “They came off the field, and there wasn’t any panic. They weren’t nervous about anything. It was just like, ‘Hey, let’s get the ball back and do what we do.’”
Midway’s next scoring drive was even quicker. The Panthers took over on the 50-yard line with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Mordecai took the snap and found Williams sprinting past his defender for a 50-yard touchdown.
The Panthers kept the momentum rolling in the second quarter with another scoring drive. It was, again, less than two minutes. On 4th and 14, Mordecai completed a pass to Thomas for 22 yards to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Mordecai connected with Dart Smith for the 9-yard touchdown.
Midway didn’t score again the rest of the first half as the next three drives ended in a punt and a fumble before time ran out in the quarter.
The chances for a shutout ended early in the third quarter. Killeen recovered an onside kick to start the second half, marking Midway’s fourth turnover of the night. The Kangaroos made it down to Midway’s 15-yard line and settled for the field goal on 4th and 2. Killeen later scored its lone touchdown of the night with seven seconds left in the game.
“The score is the exact same from last week,” Hulme said. “Everyone got to play. Our defense showed a lot of toughness with those turnovers in the first half and were able to get the ball back to the offense. That part I was really pleased with.”