COPPERAS COVE — The roller coaster ride made them dizzy, but the Midway Panthers are still standing. Undefeated, no less.
After coming out flat and falling behind 10-0, eighth-ranked Midway eventually found its footing. Midway trailed 17-7 late in the first quarter before reeling off four unanswered touchdowns before the first half horn even sounded, and spoiled Copperas Cove’s homecoming, 49-45, on Friday night at Bulldawg Stadium.
However, Cove made things plenty dramatic in the second half, exploding for some big third-quarter plays to push ahead 45-42 late in the third quarter. But Midway assembled a clutch 86-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, culminating with the 8-yard score from James Fullbright. Then on Cove’s ensuing possession, the Panthers seemingly sealed the win on a Parker Nall interception, but a flag wiped out the play.
Nevertheless, the Midway defense still didn’t buckle, and Grant Graves broke through into the backfield to clinch the win with a sack of Cove’s Jaylen Smith.
Cove (2-3 overall, 0-1 in District 8-6A) scored right off the pat to put Midway on its heels. The Bulldawgs needed just a handful of plays to find the end zone, as Smith hit Floyd Connell with a pass, and Connell did the rest, running through several Midway tackle attempts.
Eventually, though, Tanner Mordecai and the Panther offense started humming. The senior quarterback and University of Oklahoma commit passed for 429 yards and two touchdowns while running for 129 yards and three scores. Midway piled up 627 yards of total offense.
By the time Mordecai found D’ante Thomas on a slant pass with 11 seconds left in the first half, the Panthers (5-0 overall, 1-0 in 8-6A) had pushed out to a 35-17 advantage.
But Cove came storming back in the third quarter, led in part by running back Shontez Simmons, who had 167 yards and three touchdowns.
For Midway, the win was a relief as much as anything.
“We’re 5-0, but, dadgum, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said.
Tanner Mordecai is competitive in everything. But if he had to choose, outside of football, …